Feminine bynames from Livonia ending in -naine (ca. 1524 – 1532).

by ffride wlffsdotter (Rebecca Lucas)

© 2015; all rights reserved
Updated nd January 2020 after re-reading sources and making important corrections.
An earlier version of this article appeared in the November 2015 issue of the magazine Cockatrice under my other pen-name Muste Pehe Peep.

Pre-1600 records relating to peasant men in Livonia, that include bynames such as a profession or a patronymic, are reasonably common. It is therefore quite striking how rare mentions of women are in comparison. Due to the nature of these records such as Wackenbücher and what information they were designed to preserve, when women are mentioned their names are worth close examination.

In the three of the four examples discussed below, women are apparently identified by their husbands. One example identified a mother by her son's name. The three examples come from the ca. 1524 - 1532 Wackenbuch von Goldenbeck, relating to the parish of Kullamaa (German: Goldenbeck), formerly part of the Bishopric of Ösel–Wiek and today in the county of Läänemaa, Estonia (Saareste 1923a).

What is a Wackenbuch?

It is important to know why these records were created, as is explains why these specific bynames would have been used. The origins of the contract book called Wackenbuch lies in the administration of the manorial economy of Livonia. The local manor, in some ways, functioned much like a small, independent local government in terms of caring for their peasant workforce, but was primarily a means of running an agricultural business by the nobility (Praust, 2013). Wackenbücher are, therefore, inventories of the manorial economy, the farmsteads on manorial lands and their obligations. This could include the name of the head of the household, the number of people living in a particular farmstead, the household’s status, and their livestock. As the expected head of the farmstead would be male, it is therefore only in rare circumstances that a woman would be mentioned. Põltsam-Jürjo (2011) believes that these women were widows who were managing a farmstead until their children came of age. As probable widows, they are therefore described as a man's 'woman' or wife (Standard Estonian: naine, roughly pronounced like “nigh-ne” in English).
Despite all three examples using naine, the three names illustrate three types of names that was presumably borne by their husbands: an occupational byname, a nickname, and a personal name.

The Three Widows of Kullamaa

The occupational byname: Barbar[a] Szuͤndya nayne
Note: If it does not appear in your browser, the character between z_n is u with a superscript e.

Blokland (2005; 376) and Saareste (1923b; 148) state that this byname is derived from an occupational byname for a judge (Standard Estonian: sundija).
Saareste (1923b; 138) also notes that the Wackenbuch mentions a further two men with similar names. One, called Barth Szundia, uses the unmodified byname while the other, Nhaen Sundiapoyck, incorporates the name into a patronymic (ie. with Standard Estonian poeg ‘son’).

This byname has clear parallels with other occupational names, including when a son is identified by their father's occupation. For example, the individuals identified solely by their bynames Rowtseph and Rowtzeppypoyck (Standard Estonian: raudsepp 'blacksmith') (Saareste 1923b; 138). Records from 1534 in Tallinn similarly mention a Jacob Pusep (Standard Estonian: puusepp 'carpenter'), and Jan Puseppepoyck (Otsmaa 1963; 49).

The descriptive nickname: Lutzw nayne
This woman, without a given name, may have been the wife of a man nicknamed 'burbot' (Standard Estonian: luts) (Põltsam-Jürjo 2011; 34).
Saareste (1923b; 138) notes that a man named Andres lutzw poyck is also mentioned.

Lutzw nayne is similar to other bynames that refer to animals, recorded in 16th century Livonia. For example, Mick Kauripoick, recorded in Lihul in 1522, may have had a byname derived from 'loon' (Standard Estonian: kaur) (Stackelberg 1929; 134). In 1541 Tallinn were Simon Kurck and his son Simon Kurke poyke, with a byname meaning 'crane' or 'stork' (Standard Estonian: kurk) (Essen and Johansen 1939; 98).

The personal name: Manthu nayne
This is a relationship byname, indicating the name of her husband.

Põltsam-Jürjo (2011; 24, 26, 27, footnote 56) notes two people in the Kullamaa Wackenbuch called Manthe, or Manthw. They were Manthw Rutlypoyck ('knight's son'), and Manthe Moyßnyck ('landlord, estate owner'). While Põltsam-Jürjo considers Mant to be a diminutive from any of the German-language names ending in –mund (from Low German munt 'protection'), Saareste (1923a; 104) instead suggests the name is from the Finnic personal names Imand or Mandes.

Other examples bynames based around a relative's given name, can be seen in patronymics from Lihul in Ösel–Wiek, ca. 1518-1544:
Melno Mattisßonn and Mick Melnenpoick (Mägiste 1929; 38)
Hanto Hintopoick and Hans Hantopoick
Andres Hikemelenpoick, and Jurgen Andrespoick (Stackelberg 1928; 135, 167, 173, 181, 200).

In short, it appears that bynames ending in naine were being used in a similar way to the more common bynames ending in poeg: they were bynames used to indicate a person's relationship to a man.

A Second Possible Type of Byname: Ema

Põltsam-Jürjo (2011; 32) also mentions a further, single example of a woman identified as a mother (Standard Estonian: ema). In another Wackenbuch from Ösel–Wiek, centred upon Lihul (now in Pärnumaa county), a land record was recorded in 1539 as:

Koltze ema Jacob

At some point after the record was created, the word ‘mother’ (ema) was scratched out, and the name Jacob added (Stackelberg 1928; 130). Põltsam-Jürjo suggests this was done when the farm was passed down to her son, implying that Jacob bore the nickname Koltze, possibly from a word meaning ‘melting ice’ (Standard Estonian: kolts) (Kallasmaa 1996; 117).

However due to only finding a single example of this type of name, so far, it is not possible to draw many conclusions.