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Last names


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36 replies to this topic

#1 Bing

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 09:36 PM

I've always been a bit interested in how last names come to being in the world of ASoIaF. At first I assumed that a last name is something you make up or is given to you when you become a knight or acquire lands, for the purposes of ownership and inheritance, so that you can pass on your property to your heirs.

Yet this is not completely consistent. Bronn for instance became a knight, but I assume his last name would not have been "Blackwater" (or would it?)

On the other hand, re-reading Feast, I noticed that while Brienne is in Duskendale staying at an inn, a woman says: "Can't throw a stone in Duskendale without you hit some Darke or Darkwood or Dargood," which leads me to assume that actually, anyone can have a last name, if they so choose.

Then there's Davos, whose name is Seaworth and if I'm not mistaken, was related to his exploits in rescuing Stannis during Robert's rebellion. Then there's the question of the bastard names: Snow, Waters, Stone etc.

So does anyone know, if there's some consistent rule to how last names are made? Can smallfolk just assume whatever name they like? I'm guessing people had no form of identification other than their face and arms anyway, so it wouldn't be difficult.

#2 Bastard of Varys

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 08:37 AM

So does anyone know, if there's some consistent rule to how last names are made? Can smallfolk just assume whatever name they like? I'm guessing people had no form of identification other than their face and arms anyway, so it wouldn't be difficult.

I get the impression that family names only matter to an established house; even a minor house like Tollett. To a smallfolk, you can pretty much call yourself anything and it would mean very little to anybody else. Like Ser Duncan the Tall, who grew up in Flea Bottom and didn't know his last name. Bronn can call himself "Bronn of Blackwater" and it would carry some meaning, whereas "Dunk of Flea Bottom" would just invite insults. So I'm thinking the smallfolk didn't care to saddle themselves with any family names, at all, save for the more ambitious types.

As for the bastard names, they only serve to indicate that the bastard is a progeny of some known house, but isn't necessarily welcomed as a member of such house. I don't think bastardy or bastard standing matters much to the smallfolk, since the family name isn't that important to them to begin with.

#3 _Oberyn_

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 01:32 PM

One would assume the smallfolk same as in RL medieval would have been known to their community by their profesion e.g. Ben the smith (Ben Smith).

#4 LordBloodravenI

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 02:18 PM

Just something similar to this that I've been wondering about is what last name do the children of bastards have? For example, if Jon Snow were to have a legitimate child it wouldn't have the bastard name of Snow, so would it have the name of Stark, or the name of the mother, or what?

#5 Elenya Westerling

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 06:17 PM

Just something similar to this that I've been wondering about is what last name do the children of bastards have? For example, if Jon Snow were to have a legitimate child it wouldn't have the bastard name of Snow, so would it have the name of Stark, or the name of the mother, or what?


With a bastard father it's not incredibly likely that a highborn child would be fathered, so I imagine the same "poor so nobody cares" ruling would apply. If the child were to have a last name though, I imagine that it would be something like Snowson, etc. I can't remember who, but I'm sure somebody did this?

#6 Zar Lannister

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:41 AM

I remember reading somewhere in the books that Lannisters descend from Lann The Trickster (the one who earned them Casterly Rock from the Casterlys) through the female line. I can only assume their House name somehow is derived from Lann.

Edited by Zar Lannister, 14 August 2011 - 10:41 AM.


#7 Lola by the Bay

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:08 AM

Trueborn sons of bastards could adopt altered surnames. A trueborn son of a notable Waters adopted the name Longwaters to distinguish himself from all those bastard Waters(es) running around.

Edit: And the wiki comes to the rescue! I was thinking of Rennifer Longwaters, descended from Jon Waters, a Velaryon bastard by one of the Maidenvault Targaryen princesses. Jon's son made the change. (I would, too. I hear "Jon Waters" and all I can think of is a raunchy film director with a pencil-thin mustache. /wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' /> )

Edited by Lola by the Bay, 16 August 2011 - 02:11 AM.


#8 Queen Beyond the Wall

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 01:29 PM

Trueborn sons of bastards could adopt altered surnames. A trueborn son of a notable Waters adopted the name Longwaters to distinguish himself from all those bastard Waters(es) running around.

Edit: And the wiki comes to the rescue! I was thinking of Rennifer Longwaters, descended from Jon Waters, a Velaryon bastard by one of the Maidenvault Targaryen princesses. Jon's son made the change. (I would, too. I hear "Jon Waters" and all I can think of is a raunchy film director with a pencil-thin mustache. /wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' /> )



Some of us Waters(es) don't mind our bastard name!/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

#9 dragginstoned

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 01:53 PM

Name spread out over generations. For instance there are Lannisters of Casterly Rock as well as Lannisters of Lannisport, and a host of people with Lann in their name from there. There is also the evolution of Karl Stark, to the KArhold Starks to the Karstarks over some (long)period of time.

GRRM stated that most short names are family names of first men families. He mentioned Stark, Reed, Flint and Tallhart.

Note that the Manderlys are from the reach and migrated to the north, and probably named after the river Mander.

My interesting historical tangent is wondering if there was a realtionship between the Casterlys who orginally owned Casterly Rock and the Reigns of Castamere (or the people who owned Castamere before them, if any). Perhaps a realation also the Caster north of the wall who is also of the first men?

Andal derived surnames would be few and far between as I see the "Andal Invasion" much like the "Saxon Invasion" which slowly replaced local elites over a long period of time, with even the southron smallfolk being predominantly of the first men. See the seerer who begs a kiss from Thoros of Myr in ASOS.

#10 Timur Khal

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 10:29 PM

and the world may never know what the system is in Mereen /huh.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':huh:' />

#11 CrypticWeirwood

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 07:22 AM

and the world may never know what the system is in Mereen [img]http://asoiaf.wester...default/huh.gif[/img]

Actually, we may learn the Ghiscari naming system. We already know that the last element in the same is the family surname, because there is a comment about the king's Loraq family hostages being returned unharmed. The question is what the short particle in the middle represents, and why there are several of them:
  • Grazdan mo Eraz
  • Kraznys mo Nakloz
  • Skahaz mo Kandaq
  • Hizdahr zo Loraq
  • Marghaz zo Loraq
  • Prendahl na Ghezn
  • Wendello qar Deeth
Since the Loraq family is named, it's pretty clear that the intervening particle is some sort of denotation of family membership. Why there are several of them we don't know. It could be male vs female, it could be married into, it could be different Ghiscari cities, it could be a different status such as merchants vs nobility, it could be rank within family, etc etc etc.

#12 Greenblood

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:18 AM

Actually, we may learn the Ghiscari naming system. We already know that the last element in the same is the family surname, because there is a comment about the king's Loraq family hostages being returned unharmed. The question is what the short particle in the middle represents, and why there are several of them:

  • Grazdan mo Eraz
  • Kraznys mo Nakloz
  • Skahaz mo Kandaq
  • Hizdahr zo Loraq
  • Marghaz zo Loraq
  • Prendahl na Ghezn
  • Wendello qar Deeth
Since the Loraq family is named, it's pretty clear that the intervening particle is some sort of denotation of family membership. Why there are several of them we don't know. It could be male vs female, it could be married into, it could be different Ghiscari cities, it could be a different status such as merchants vs nobility, it could be rank within family, etc etc etc.


rather than the family name I think it may be the fathers name. ie Grazdan son of Eraz?

#13 Zar Lannister

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:34 AM


rather than the family name I think it may be the fathers name. ie Grazdan son of Eraz?


But then there's Galazza Galare (the Green Grace).

Galare must be her last name as there is at least one noble mentioned related to her: Grazdam zo Galare.

Edited by Zar Lannister, 04 September 2011 - 09:35 AM.


#14 voodooqueen126

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:17 AM

Also, in real life it is common for people to have names that mean son of
McEwan (son of Ewan)
Ap Rhys (son of Rhys)
O'Connor (grandson of Connor)
Johnson (son of John)

in Westeros there is Tom O'Sevens and Shagga Son of Dolf....
So why don't we see more patronymics?

#15 Free Northman

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:40 AM

Just on the Manderlys, I believe it was stated that the river was in fact named after them, rather than the other way around.

#16 voodooqueen126

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:48 AM

I think as a person gains economic progress in Westeros they feel the need for a surname. A guy who is just a peasant doesn't need a surname, but if his son somehow becomes a smith or a wool merchant then they might be called Smith, Fuller, Tommenson, Mercer.

#17 Fumpy

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:03 PM

My interesting historical tangent is wondering if there was a realtionship between the Casterlys who orginally owned Casterly Rock and the Reigns of Castamere (or the people who owned Castamere before them, if any). Perhaps a realation also the Caster north of the wall who is also of the first men?


The Reynes held Castamere until Tywin Lannister (before the books) came and totally destroyed their seat of Castamere and all traces of their existence for rebelling against Lannister rule as their liege lord.

This is what the song the "rains" of Castamere refers to.

#18 Feather Crystal

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:49 PM

I thought last names were started to differentiate between people with the same first name. Using example from the Wiki: http://awoiaf.wester...of_Characters#AI think a lot of the commoners got their names from their professions, like "Cook", "Brooks" or "Smith".

#19 fluffywarthog

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:10 PM

I thought last names were started to differentiate between people with the same first name. Using example from the Wiki: http://awoiaf.wester...of_Characters#A


I've got about a hundred different exceptions to that rule:
Lord Walder Frey, Ser Stevron Frey, Edwyn Frey, Walder Frey, Aegon Frey, Aemon Frey, Walda Frey, Walton Frey, Walda Frey, Walder Vance, Ser Cleos Frey, Tywin Frey, "Red" Walder Frey, Ser Emmon Frey, Ser Walder Frey, "Black" Walder Frey, Wilem Frey, Aegon Frey, Rhaegar Frey, Walda Frey, Walder Frey, Tytos Frey, Walder Frey Goodbrook, Hosteen Frey, Walder Frey, Walda Frey, Walder Frey, Tywin Frey, Walder Frey, Waltyr Frey, Walder Rivers, Ser Aemon Rivers, Walda Rivers "Fat" Walda Frey, "Big" Walder Frey, "Little" Walder Frey, Wanda Frey, Ser Stevron Frey, Frey Frey Frey HODOR Frey Frey Frey with eggs and a side of Frey....

No repititions. Most a unique instance of the same name, albeit some with different spellings. There has got to be a better way of identifying them. Lord Frey is not human: he is a 5-ft-tall shaved rabbit without ears.

Edited by fluffywarthog, 17 January 2012 - 05:13 PM.


#20 Gingerly Grumkin

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:31 PM

Why is Dany Stormborn? Its a cool last name, but Targaryen is much more badass. Also if a commoner in the north has a bastard would they be givin the name snow, or are bastard names reserved for noble bastards?

Edited by Ndrew of Typhgarian, 17 January 2012 - 05:31 PM.