giuseppe tomasi de lampedusa

“Bastard” Naming Conventions

Anonymous said:

How would I go about giving last names to bastards (as in illegitimate children) of noble houses? For example, in Game of Thrones, it depends on where you live, and I don’t want to copy that (for obvious reasons) and leaving them without one seems incomplete. Any advice?Love your blog! You’re always super helpful!

There are lots of possibilities…

1) Father’s Surname - if the child is acknowledged by the father, it’s pretty common for the child just to take the father’s surname, even if they were born out of wedlock.

2) Mother’s Surname - if the child isn’t acknowledged by the father, or if the father doesn’t want the child to have his surname, children born out of wedlock take their mother’s surname.

3) Created Surname - another possibility would be for the parent/s to create an all new surname for the child. This could be a combination of the parents’ first names, like David Maryjohn, or perhaps something related to one of the parents’ occupations, like David Bakerson or David Knight.

4) Institutional Surname - if the child doesn’t have a surname, they could be given the name of the hospital where they are born, the orphanage where they are raised, or a church-related name if the orphanage has a religious affiliation. Perhaps, in your world, children born out of wedlock go to a special school where they are given a surname relating to their skill set or dormitory hall.

5) Religious Surname - especially because of orphanages having religious affiliations, in some places, it was common for children born out of wedlock to be given surnames relating to religion. Names like Church, Saint, de Jesus, Trinity, etc. 

6) Special Prefix or Suffix - In England, children born to kings out of wedlock, who were acknowledged by their fathers, were sometimes given surnames with the prefix “Fitz,” like “Fitzroy.” In a fantasy, you could have prefixes or suffixes related to kingdoms, regions, particular kings or houses, etc.

7) No Surname at All - having no surname at all could certainly brand someone as being born out of wedlock in a particular region or kingdom.

8) Slurname - you could come up with a slur that refers to children born out of wedlock in your story’s kingdom/world, and use that as a surname. Like William the Bastard, William Bastard, or William Bastardborn. You could also use bastard, mongrel***, or baseborn.

9) Bastardy Particle - In western cultures, a “nobiliary particle” was used with a surname to denote noble origin. This would be things like “of” (William of Orange), “von” (Preben von Ahnen), “de” (Henri de Créquy), “di” (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa), etc. You could come up with something similar to precede the surname of a child born out of wedlock–and this could be either the mother’s or father’s surname. So, either “Ramsay od Bolton” or perhaps a better example: “Jon od Targaryen” or “Jon od Stark.”

10) Castle/Manor Name - if these out-of-wedlock children were fathered by men from noble houses, perhaps the name of the manor house or castle would be an interesting surname. Like, Dessen Casterly, Rena Winterfell, or Geren Redkeep. (Michael Buckingham, Mary Balmoral, David Blenheim, etc.) You could even combine that with the “bastardy particle” and do something like “Dessen od Casterly.”

I hope something here will work for you!


feministpandamama said: Fitz actually means son. So that part isn’t exclusive to royal bastards or even basterds in general. In Pride and Prejudice, for example, Fitzwilliam is the surname of Darcy’s mother and  cousin. Roy means king. So Fitzroy means son of a king. The whole name was commonly used to denote royal bastards, but neither element means that on its own.

WQA responded: Hmm… I didn’t say it was exclusive to royal bastards, nor did I define “Fitz.” I just said that kings sometimes gave their acknowledged “bastards” surnames beginning with “Fitz,” which is true. 

WQA said: evidently, “mongrel” is a popular slur in the U.K., so keep that in mind with this word. 

Have a writing question? I’d love to hear from you! Please be sure to read my ask rules and master list first or your question will not be answered. :)