Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 101

Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 101

This report is available at

This is one of the Academy's earliest reports. We are not confident that these early reports are accurate. Please use it with caution.


Here's the information we found on the name "Alysandir Sym MacDonald."

It's somewhat tricky to determine the exact form of Scottish Gaelic names because they were almost always recorded in Scots, a language similar to English which is not closely related to Scottish Gaelic. Spelling of Gaelic names in Scots varied greatly and didn't carry any particular significance. The name which we know as "Macdonald" was recorded in Scots in many different forms, including:

Makdonenalde 1251

The first use we found of "Macdonald" (spelled "Makdonald") is not until 1571. However, there is so much variation in the spelling of this name that any of these forms, and even some that aren't listed (such as "McConnill") would be reasonable period names. For example, in medieval Scots "M'," "Mc," "Mak," and "Mac" were interchangable; you could use any of those beginnings with any form of the name.

All these names are Scots records of the Gaelic name "mac Domnaill," meaning "son of Domnull." It's important to note that this name does not mean "member of Clan Domnaill." The system of "clan names" used in Scotland today has no relation to the actual usage of clan names in medieval Scotland. Medieval Scots did not use hereditary surnames or clan names--they were generally known as "<name> mac <father's name>." Since clans occupied the same geographic area, everyone in a given area would have the same clan name. If you were living away from members of your clan, you might be known as "Alysandir Domnallach," which does mean "Alysandir of Clan Domnaill."

We also found evidence for the given names you were interested in. We were able to document both "Alysandir" and "Sym" from a list of Scots names from the 14th century, found at

"Alysandir" is a form of "Alexander," the 6th most common name listed. "Sym" is a diminuitive of "Simon," the 11th most common name. Both of these names were also used in Gaelic, so they would be reasonable for your persona. However, Scots and Gaelic speakers in period used only one given name. Thus, either "Alysandir Macdonald" or "Sym Macdonald" would be reasonable Scots forms of a Gaelic name," but "Alysandir Sym Macdonald" would not be. You could use the name "Alysandir mac Kym vc Connall," which would mean "Alexander, son of Sym, son of Donald."

We hope this has been helpful. If there's anything else we can do for you, please let us know. You will find an explanation of Scottish naming practices on the Web page

This is a more detailed description of the issues involved in picking a Scottish name.

Effric neyn Kenyeoch and Arval D'Espas Nord researched your name.

We hope this has been helpful; please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

In service,
Alan Fairfax
Academy of S. Gabriel