Some heraldic and onomastic books found for free online

by Wenyeva atte grene

As a book herald in the SCA and a history and onomastics geek in the mundane world, I have spent the last few years gathering a lot of books that are helpful in my research of names (and occasionally armory). Some books that are quite useful are hard to find, and used copies can be expensive, or just scarce.

Recently Google Books started digitizing books and placing them online; sometimes the full book is in the public domain and available for online reading or download as a PDF, other times it is small snippets or previews. Either way, it's quite useful -- especially because they have made a lot of onomastic and other references available to us at the click of a mouse button. has digitized books as well, and all books there are fully downloadable, and usually allow you to read them online too.

Here's a quick list of a few of the ones I've found and bookmarked so far. There are many others you can easily find, including lots of Victorian "Introduction to Heraldry"-type books. Additionally, there are books that should be available to us eventually that aren't yet. Some of Eilert Ekwall's works, for example, were published before 1923, and are therefore in the public domain in the US, but they aren't fully available on Google Books -- only as snippets, or worse, no preview or search at all.

Google Books links only work if you are in the US. If you are elsewhere, however, you may be able to access the books. Instead of going to, go to where __ is filled in with the top level domain used by Google in your country. For example, if you are in Germany, you need to go to And if you are in the UK, go to You'll just need to replace the existing "" in the links I've posted here with your local equivalent. This will not work in every country, but it will work in some. links should work from any location.

Books marked with this open book icon are available in full view somewhere; i.e., you can download them or view an entire book online, either on Google or on Other books are only partially viewable.

Books marked with this 14th-century A icon are available on; if Google Books does not work for you, look for this icon.

Books marked with this 14th-century H icon are on the "No Photocopy List", Appendix H of the Administrative Handbook.


Books on the "No Photocopy List" or on the Annotated Name Book List:

Other onomastics books

Use these books with caution. Some may have various pitfalls, such as not using dates, having outdated research, including names that have been modernized, etc. Others may be good. I put them here because they are interesting in some way or I haven't had a chance to look at them yet, or they're good but not in one of the above lists. :-)

This is just a small sample of what you can find online. Looking for tons more books? Google has started adding so many potentially useful books to their system that it is impossible to add them all to this page. My own Google Books Library currently contains several hundred books, most of which contain onomastic information. You can search my library and find more books and useful name citations.

Additionally, though I won't link to all of them here, a search in Google Books for "lay subsidy" or "feet of fines" or "close rolls" in "full view books" will bring up quite a few books containing medieval records and names that can be very useful. Other useful and interesting books can be found with this search for "place names", this search for "surnames", this for "heraldry", etc.


Be warned, many of these are very Victorian indeed!

Other interesting stuff

Wenyeva atte grene, 26 February 2007, last updated (but only partially) January 2011

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© 2007-2011 Wendi Dunlap