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The CIRCLE index and advanced search are based on two database sub-forms, one each for personal and place-names. This section describes the conventions for entering the data into those sub-forms.

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Personal Names

The personal names index contains the following fields:

  • Surname
  • Surname (standardized)
  • Forename
  • Patronymic / marital status
  • Title / status
  • Office
  • Associated place


These are entered as they appear in the text. Where appropriate, a modernized form of a particular surname may be entered in the ‘Standardized’ field.

French-form surnames are entered under ‘de’ and ‘le’, i.e. ‘de la Freigne’, ‘le Poer’, ‘l’Enfant’. They are not standardized as lower or upper case, but rather indexed to match the form of the original.

Irish names are entered as they appear in the text and, where a positive identification can be made, the Anglicized form of the name is entered in the Surname (standardized) field. The final printed index will included cross references from the standardized Irish spelling of the name that will refer the reader to the Anglicized form of the name. Irish chiefs who are referred to by surname alone ‘e.g. Obreen of Tothemond’ are entered under surname: in this case ‘Thomond’ would appear in related ‘place’ field of the personal names database.

Surname (standardized)

This field is used where there is a standard form of a name (English or Irish) that is not being regularized in the text as a matter of course within the text of the document.

This field is also used in the following instances:

  • Lineages: entered in the form ‘Bermingham, family’; ‘O’Toole, family’.
  • Geraldines: entered in the form ‘Geraldines of Kildare’; ‘Geraldines of Desmond’.


All forenames are indexed as they appear in the text of CIRCLE.

Patronymic / marital status

Patronymics are entered into this field irrespective of whether the text reads ‘fitz William or ‘s. of William’. Where appropriate a standardized form of a ‘fitz’ surname is also entered in the ‘Surname (standardized)’ field in order to facilitate searches. Thus a patronymic in the form ‘David fitz William’ will normally be standardized as follows:

Surname (in text)

Surname (standardized)


Patronynic / Marital status




fitz William

It is important to understand that, in a case such as this, David’s father was not necessarily called William; but in the case of ‘David s. of William fitz William’, it is clear from the text that David’s father was indeed named ‘William’. This example is indexed as follows:

Surname (in text)

Surname (standardized)


Patronynic / Marital status




s. of William fitz William

Women are normally indexed under their maiden names. Where we only have a married name, this is recorded in the surname field placed within round brackets, as follows:

Surname (in text)

Surname (standardized)


Patronynic / Marital status




w. of Robert Preston




w. of Robert




wid. of Robert Presto

Title / Status

The ‘title/status’ field is used for noble and religious titles, affiliation to a religious order, as well as social status and (sometimes) occupation (clk, chaplain, citizen, esq., kt, merchant). In cases where the name of a place or institution appears as part of the tile, this is given first. The field is also used for an Irish chief who are described as ‘captain of his nation’. 'Deceased' is never recorded. Where possible, the titles of nobles should include an ordinal number (e.g. Ormond, 2nd e.). The following table includes some examples from this field:



Noble title  

Kildare, 4th e.

Gormanston, viscount

Religious title

Dublin, abp

Kildare, bp

Tintern, abbot

All Saints (Dublin), prior

St Patrick’s (Dublin), dean






Dublin, citizen

Drogheda, burgess







This field is reserved primarily for officers of the royal administration, whether in central or local government. The office is normally only included when mentioned in the text of the letter. When an individual is described as a former officer (e.g. ‘John Wogan, former Jcr’) this is entered simply as ‘Jcr’.

In the case of officers of local government who are associated with a particular place (e.g., county, liberty, city, town, bailiwick), the place-name appears first, followed by the office and finally the administrative unit in question (e.g. ‘Dublin, sheriff of co.’ or ‘Meath, seneschal of lib.’).



Royal minister






chief baron, Ex.

chief remembrancer., Ex.

clerk of hanaper, chanc.

Local or municipal officer

Dublin, sh. of co.

Ulster, sen. of lib.

Wicklow, const. of castle

Athlone, kpr of castle

Cork, mayor

Kilkenny, sovereign

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The place-names index contains the following fields:

  • place-name in text
  • standardized spelling
  • cantred / barony
  • county / liberty / diocese
  • province
  • country

The spelling of place-names in the index matches that given in the text. Where possible, the modern form of the place-name is entered in the ‘modern place-name’ field (although full identification of place-names is not part of this phase of the project).

Where the text refers to the larger territorial unit within which a particular place-name is located (e.g. Crumlin, co. Dublin), all larger place is entered. In cases of doubt, no attempt is made to disambiguate between (for instance) counties, dioceses, towns etc.  Instead the place-name is simply entered in the first field (place-name in text).

Cities, towns, manors, castles, cathedrals, churches and monastic houses are entered in the first place-name field. Where possible, the following qualifiers are used (preliminary list):

  • abbey
  • cathedral
  • castle
  • city
  • gaol
  • great council
  • house
  • letters patent dated at
  • manor
  • march(es)
  • mountains
  • murage
  • parl.
  • prebend
  • priory
  • port
  • royal service
  • staple
  • town

Specific locations are incorporated as follows:

  • ‘St Patrick’s (Cashel), cath.’

Dates and other details are sometimes as follows:

  • Dublin, parl. (Feb. 1372)
  • Westminster, letters patent dated at (1318)
  • Kilmallock, royal service (1394)