PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]


Author: CPL
Editorial Status: unknown

Discussion of the name

Alfketil is a masculine Old Danish name formed from the elements alfr ‘elf’ and ketill ‘helmet, helmeted chieftain’ (von Feilitzen 1937: 144; Fellows Jensen 1968: 8, 349). Like other names with ketill as the second element, it developed a variant in –kell (Fellows Jensen 1968: pp. lxxii–lxxxiii § 16). The original name is preferred here for the standardized form, and there is a hint that the DB spellings in –chel and –chil (both for –kell) may have functioned as familiar forms of the name Alfketil, since DB’s Alchel was called Alfcetel in an independent source (Alfketil 3).

The name is not well evidenced in England, and no other examples are currently listed in PASE, though two persons currently listed under other head-forms should probably be considered. First, an early eleventh-century moneyer at Derby whose name was rendered alfcytel and ælfcetel (PASE: Ælfcetel 1) may have been an Alfketil, with the pronunciation and spelling of his name influenced by the Old English element ælf and cytel. Secondly, the Elfkitel mentioned in his mother Wulfgyth 5’s will of c. 1046 (PASE: Ælfcytel 1) was almost certainly an Alfketil, since he had brothers called Ketil and Ulfketil, though all their names are distorted by ‘modernized’ spellings in the thirteenth-century manuscripts which preserve the text of the will (S 1535).

Fellows Jensen (1968: 8) found no examples of the name Alfketil in Lincolnshire and only a handful in Yorkshire, including the only three occurrences in DB. The name was unknown among the peasants of Bury St Edmunds in west Suffolk (Feudal Book of Abbot Baldwin, in Douglas 1932).


S: P. H. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters: An Annotated List and Bibliography, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks 8 (London, 1968), revised by S. Kelly, R. Rushforth et al., The Electronic Sawyer: Online Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Charters, published online through Kemble: The Anglo-Saxon Charters Website, currently at

Douglas 1932: Feudal Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, ed. D. C. Douglas, Records of the Social and Economic History of England and Wales. vol. 8.  (London: Oxford University Press, 1932)

Forms of the name

Spellings in Domesday Book: Alchetel, Alchel, Alchil

Forms in modern scholarship:

von Feilitzen head forms: Alfkil

Phillimore edition: Alfketill

Alecto edition: Alfkil

Note: von Feilitzen also assigned the spelling Euchil to this name, but there are grounds for regarding it as distinct

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

Holder 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Holder 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Holder 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Yorkshire 6N26 Little Langton Alchetel Alfketil 'of Little Langton' Gamel son of Carl Alan, count - 1.50 0.20 0.00 A Map
Yorkshire 9W25 Hambleton Alchel Alfketil of Hambleton - Ilbert de Lacy Earnwig 'of Garforth' 3.00 1.50 1.00 A Map
Yorkshire 14E26 Barmston Alchil Alfketil 'of Barmston' - Drew de la Beuvrière - 2.00 0.75 0.00 A Map
Total               6.50 2.45 1.00  

People of this name

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