Period or Not…Names
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 Hamish.
The male name Hamish is one of those names that is generally believed
to be period, but for which we have no evidence. All of the research
to date shows that Hamish did not evolve until the 19th century, when
it began to be used either as an Anglicized form of the Gaelic male
name Seumas or as a variant of the name James.
While it is possible that new information could support Hamish as a
medieval or Renaissance given name at some point in the future, right
now it is not registerable.
So what should a person who wants to be “Hamish” in the SCA do? Well,
names do not need to be registered. In the East Kingdom, a person can
obtain awards and receive scrolls even without a registered name.
Alternatively, one could register a different formal name, such as
James, and use “Hamish” as a nickname.
Finally, there are some period and documentable given names that are
close in sound and appearance to Hamish. For example, the Family
Search Historical Records show “Hammash Munkastle” as the name of a
boy christened in 1609 in Lincoln, England. “Heymish” is an early
17th cen. English surname, which can be used as a given name based on
the documented pattern of using very late period English surnames in
this manner. “Hemish” likewise is an early 17th cen. English
surname that can be used as a given name. Any of these options
give the look and feel of the name “Hamish” while also being
documentable and registerable. All of them can be combined with an
English, Scots or Anglicized Irish surname.
 James MacDoual, 7/2000 LoAR, A-Meridies.
 Hammash Munkastle; Male; 27 Jul 1609; St Peter-at-Arches’,
Lincoln, Lincoln, England; Batch: C02569-3
 Eleoner Heymish; Female; Marriage; 05 Nov 1604; West Hendred,
Berkshire, England; Batch: M13001-1
 Magaret Hemish; Female; Marriage; 04 Dec 1626; East Tisted,
Hampshire, England; Batch: M14663-1
In modern Scots Gaelic, Hamish is the personal form of Seamus. If I’m speaking about the man, I say “Seamus”; but if I am addressing him personally, I would say “a Hamish”. This is done with all names: the first consonant is softened or ellided, and typically a vowel is added, so for example”Sean” becomes “a Hoin”.
For me, the name Hamish is a source of unintentional amusement. I was raised in a home where,occasionally, Yiddish words were interspersed into conversations. In Yiddish “Hamish” (pronounced the same) means cozy, or homelike – in a very approving way. Something is hamish if it is comfortable, feels familiar, is designed to make you feel at home.
So, for me, the name has very inappropriate connotations.