The Tudor Society

Names – How do you pronounce them?

History books and primary sources are full of names that can catch you out - Wriothesley, Beauchamp, Blount, Lisle, St John... to name just a few - so how do you pronounce them?

In this week's video, Claire gives the pronunciations of over 100 names and has some fun with the English language.

Note: Do keep watching after Claire says goodbye as Tim points out a name that Claire missed, and it's an important one!

P.S. On this day in history, 17th February 1547, Edward Seymour became Duke of Somerset - click here to read more.

There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. S

    That was wonderfully entertaining and informative! Thank you so much! The name Beauchamp comes up frequently in my reading and I’ve wondered about the pronunciation. Now I know!

  2. C

    Thanks Claire. Really enjoyed that. It was very useful. A few there that I have never been sure of and I never know how to find out about them. I must try and remember them all!
    I can add some information on some Welsh names, though.
    Regarding the name Vaughan – you correctly gave the modern pronunciation of the name, but did you know it was once pronounced with a “ch” sound (like in “enough”) in the middle?
    It’s an Anglicisation of the Welsh name “Fychan”, meaning small or lesser. In Welsh a single F is pronounced as a V in English, so the English wrote down the name as Vaughan. Over time, as English pronunciation changed, the “ch” sound was lost and the name took on its current pronunciation.
    Powell is another Welsh name (from ap Hywel, son of Hywel) and the first version you gave for it is the more authentic. “Pool” is a very English corruption.
    I think the changes in pronunciation in England would probably date from the 15th century but I wonder which versions were in use in the 16th century with so many Welsh at court. Maybe both side by side?
    You didn’t include Cecil. This was originally another Welsh name – Seisyllt – pronounced something like “size-ithlt” but the English definitely couldn’t get their tongues around that. I think “see- sill” was probably the best attempt!

    1. C - Post Author

      Thank you, Ceri! That’s interesting about Vaughan and, yes, I forgot Cecil! It would be interesting to know about the Welsh members of the Tudor court and how their names were pronounced.

  3. D

    In Virginia, where I live, near Williamsburg, one of the wealthy families there in colonial times were the Taliaferros, pronounced Toliver

    1. C - Post Author

      Wow! That’s quite a name and so very different from how it is written. Thank you!

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Names – How do you pronounce them?