This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence.. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.
Today’s name is Corwin or Corwyn.
Although popularly believed to be medieval, we have yet to find any evidence of a person with the given name of Corwin or Corwyn. As a given name, it appears to be a purely 20th century invention.
In the medieval and Renaissance eras, Corwin and its variant spellings were surnames, based on either a place name in Wales or an occupational term for “shoemaker.”
So why do some people have the SCA name of Corwin or Corwyn registered? There is a bit of a “rules hack” that allows for the registration of Corwin as a given name in certain limited circumstances.
There is a pattern of using late 16th century English surnames as given names. The most well-known example of this is Guildford Dudley, the husband of Lady Jane Grey, whose first name was based on a family surname. Because this pattern actually existed in period, evidence of Corwin (or any variant spelling) as a 16th century English surname allows it to be registered as if it were a 16th century English given name.
(Note that the surname-as-given name pattern is limited only to 16th century English surnames right now).
 September 2012 Cover Letter (http://heraldry.sca.org/loar/2012/09/12-09cl.html)