VCH Style Guidelines

Anglo-Saxon personal names

See: forenames

ap (Welsh - son of)

Welsh personal names

Welsh personal names should be modernised, using standard Welsh spellings and restoring ‘ap’ (son of) where it has become merged with the name following. Owing to soft mutation (a feature of the written language designed to make it more closely resemble the language as it is spoken), ‘ap’ becomes ‘ab’ where the next name begins with a vowel, for example, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, but Llywelyn ab Iorwerth.

  •      Thus ‘Yevan Fluellin’ becomes Ieuan Llewelyn, ‘Evan Abowen’ becomes Evan ab Owen, and ‘Davye Aphowell’ becomes Dafydd ap Hywel.
  •      ‘ap’ should not be restored where it has been fully assimilated into the second name, which in England may have become an hereditary surname: ‘Evan Bowen’ remains Evan Bowen, ‘David Powell’ remains David Powell.
  •      Female names were also patronymic ‘ferch’ (daughter of) being used instead of ‘ap’, for example, Lleucu ferch Gruffudd.
  • One difficulty of Welsh names is where they are given to the third (or sometimes fourth or fifth) generation or by a cognomen. The same man might be known as Henry Griffith; Henry ap Gruffudd; Harri Ddu; Harri Ddu ap Gruffudd or Harri ap Gruffudd ap Henry. Where this is clearly the case, only one form should be used in the text, though the others should be noted when citing the sources in which the variations appear.
  •      Cognomen, indicating habits or matters of personal appearance, should be standardised according to modern Welsh where these can be easily ascertained. For example, Harri Ddu (Black Harry), Gruffudd Goch (Red haired Gruffudd), Gruffudd Hagr (Gruffudd the Ugly), Hywel Sais (Hywel the English speaker), Philip Ffwlbart (Philip the Polecat). Unless especially unusual or informative, these cognomen should not be glossed in English.
  • The most problematic cognomen is 'fychan' (small). This can mean that the son bore the same name as the father or that the person concerned was small in stature. This is often glossed as 'Vaughan' relecting attempts to render the name phonetically. Fychan is to be preferred even if the surname Vaughan (pronounced 'varne' to rhyme with warn) derived from it.

For indexing purposes, Welsh names are always entered by first name

Royal Family

Kings and queens of England, Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom are enumerated using caps without a full point. Their title takes a capital initial when affixed to a name but not otherwise, except in references to the reigning sovereign.

  • King Edward I
  • Queen Eleanor
  • Mary queen of Scots
  • King George V and Queen Mary opened the hospital.
  • Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited in 1965.
  • The Queen conferred the title of city in 1980.
  • Princess Alice, countess of Athlone

References to princes of Wales need not include a forename if the context makes clear which prince is referred to.

  • The bridge was opened by the prince of Wales in 1880.
  • The estate passed first to Henry prince of Wales (d. 1612) and then to his younger brother Prince Charles.

‘His (or Her) Majesty’ or ‘His (or Her) Royal Highness’ should not be used except in acknowledgements, where the abbreviated form HM, HRH is used without full points.

Princesses and royal dukes and duchesses should be identified by the name by which they are best known, either today or during their lifetime.

  • the Black Prince
  • Prince Arthur of Connaught
  • the duke of York (King George VI before his accession)
  • Princess Marina, duchess of Kent
  • the Princess Royal (the Queen’s daughter)

Members of the Royal Family are indexed under the forename by which they are best known, with cross-references in the case of those with territorial titles. Consorts (like other married women) are indexed under their maiden names.

  • Anne, Princess Royal, wife of Mark Phillips, afterwards of Timothy Laurence 126
  • Bowes-Lyon, Lady Elizabeth, queen of King George VI, afterwards Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother 123
  • Charles, prince of Wales 127
  • Edward, prince of Wales, later King Edward VII 128
  • Edward, prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII 129
  • Elizabeth, Queen: see Bowes-Lyon, Lady Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth II, Queen Mother125
  • George VI, 123
  • Gloucester, duke of: see Henry, Prince, duke of Gloucester
  • Henry, Prince, duke of Gloucester 124
  • Kent, duchess of: see Marina, Princess
  • Marina, Princess, duchess of Kent 126
  • Wales, princes of: see Charles; Edward
  • York, duke of: see George VI, king

Reverend (use of title)

Use 'The Reverend' only in official title of address, not in running text.

  • The style the Revd should not be used of ministers in office before the later 17th century, and thereafter should be used only of living persons or where the context does not indicate the status of the person named. Special care is needed in Protestant Nonconformist history because some congregations used (and use) lay people widely to preach and conduct services.
  • Do not use the Revd with a surname alone: a forename, initial or (if neither can be found) Mr or a similar title must come between. If a name is repeated at short intervals, the title Mr alone will suffice.

The same principles apply mutatis mutandis to the Most Revd, the Right Revd, the Very Revd and the Ven. prefixed to the names of archbishops, bishops, deans and provosts, and archdeacons, and to members of the rabbinate.

See also: Reverend (abbreviation of)


personal titles

In the text use Mr, with initials or forename, only of living men.

Do not use ‘esq.’ of living men in either text or footnotes (use Mr in acknowledgements), or in references to men after c.1550. The title may be useful to indicate the status of late medieval men, in which case use esq.. Where more than one person is referred to, use esq. after each name, not ‘esqs’ after the last.

Mrs, Miss or Ms should be used with initials or forename of living women in text or acknowledgements; Mrs and Miss may be used with surname alone of dead women to avoid redundancy.


  1. In 1412 the manor was sold to John Smith of London esq. 
  2. In his will of 1812 [a later] John Smith devised it to his only daughter Jane, subject to his widow’s life interest.
  3. After Mrs Smith died in 1840, the estate passed to Jane and her husband John Doe.
  4.  Their only daughter Mary inherited after her mother died in 1880.
  5. Miss Doe never married and when she died in 1920 the estate was sold. The manor house and park were bought by John Jones, whose grandson, Mr James Jones, was the owner in 2013.

Information from Mrs Mary Jones and her daughter Ms Jane Smith.

If it necessary to use numbers to distinguish members of a family with the same forename use roman capital figures in round brackets.

  • John (I) and Eleanor Bluet. John (II) died in 1393.
  • His son John Bluet (III) sold in 1400

See also: Baronets; Peers; Knights; Reverend (use of title); Royal Family.


All references to peers in the text or footnotes should be checked against the Complete Peerage to ensure that forenames, family names and titles are spelt correctly; that in the case of marquesses (and dukes whose eldest son uses a courtesy title of that rank) the spelling of the title (‘marquess’ or ‘marquis’) accords with the family’s own practice; that the attribution of courtesy titles to sons of peers is correct for the date of the reference to the person concerned; and that the enumeration of successive holders of a title is given correctly.

The most exact way to distinguish one peer from another of the same title is by giving the date of death, and is normally to be preferred, Where it is desirable, for stylistic or other reasons, to use instead the enumeration of the title, use the form

  • William, the 5th baron
  • Philip Yorke, 2nd earl of Hardwicke

Where more than one creation exists the enumeration of the title should be that of the creation concerned. The creation should be given only in exceptional circumstances.

Peerage titles have capital initials when immediately affixed to a personal name, but not otherwise.

  • Earl FitzWilliam
  • the 7th duke of Grafton

The same applies to holders of courtesy titles and to consorts

  • Lord John Russell
  • the marquis of Hartington
  • Lady Jane Grey
  • Georgiana duchess of Devonshire

The introductory pages of Debrett’s Peerage explain the correct use of titles, courtesy titles, forenames and family names by peers and their families; Debrett is also useful for establishing the titles by which dowager peeresses, or divorced former wives of peers, wish to be known. Note particularly:

  • Lord Smith (never ‘Baron Smith’)
  • the Hon. John Smith (one capital, full point)
  • the Hon. Mrs Smith (his wife or widow; not ‘Mrs Jane Smith’)
  • Lady Smith (the wife of a peer; not ‘Lady Jane Smith’)
  • Lady Jane Smith (the daughter of an earl, marquess or duke)
  • Capt. the Lord Andrew Cavendish (‘the’ takes lower case)
  • Lady Charles FitzRoy (the wife of a younger son of a duke; not ‘Lady Diana FitzRoy’)
  • Lady Reading (Lord Reading’s wife’s informal title)
  • Stella marchioness of Reading (his widow’s formal title)
  • the dowager duchess of Devonshire (all lower case)

A peer (other than a royal duke) is indexed under his family name, with cross-references from all the titles or courtesy titles by which he was known throughout his life; the same applies to eldest sons who died in their fathers’ lifetime and were thus only ever known by a courtesy title.

  • Cavendish, Spencer Compton, 8th duke of Devonshire 123, 152, 154
  • Devonshire, 8th duke of: see Cavendish, S.C. 
  • Hartington, marquess of: see Cavendish, S.C.

A royal duke is indexed under the forename by which he was commonly known.

See also: Enumeration of sovereigns, family members and peers; Royal Family


  • Use the form Sir John Smith, not ‘Sir John Smith kt’.
  • Abbreviate as kt.

Where two knights in the same family share the same forename, they may be distinguished either by date of death or by ordinal numbers

  • Sir John Smith Bt (d. 1849)
  • Sir John Smith (IV)

Women married to knights (not medieval)

  • His wife is Lady Smith, not ‘Lady Jane Smith’, who would be the daughter of an earl, marquess or duke. His widow is either Jane, Lady Smith or the dowager Lady Smith, according to the wishes of the person concerned; check Debrett etc. for the form preferred by the divorced former wives of knights.
  • The title ‘Dame’ for the wife or widow of a knight, common in 17th- and 18th-century documents and the correct legal term today, should be reserved for women with the rank of Knight Commander or holder of the Grand Cross in the Orders of Chivalry. 

The names of wives of medieval knights should be given accordig to the form in the source referred to.

See: baronets; damesComplete Baronetage; Debrett's Peerage; Burke's PeerageEnumeration of sovereigns, family members and peers.


The title ‘Dame’ for the wife or widow of a baronet or knight, common in 17th- and 18th-century documents and the correct legal term today, should be reserved for women with the rank of Knight Commander or holder of the Grand Cross in the Orders of Chivalry. 

See also Baronets; Knights