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In the medieval world, names were not controlled by the heralds. In the SCA, name registration started simply as a way to file the devices as they were registered.
Twentieth first century Americans and Canadians don't need someone to tell them how to make 21st century American and Canadian names, because they are embedded in the 21st century culture of the US and Canada. However, people in the SCA don't automatically have an understanding of medieval naming practices of particular times and places. Often what people think is medieval is actually heavily and unconsciously influenced by modern fantasy novels, or novels set in medieval times whose authors have no greater understanding of medieval naming practices than most of their audience. So, as time went on, the heralds found themselves judging "THIS name is medieval" and "THAT name is not medieval" and refusing to register names that fell into the latter category.
Once heralds started to judge names for "medievalness", they started to educate themselves so they would have a better idea of how to judge the "medievalness" of submitted names. That educational process has been going on for over 30 years, and will continue to go on. Over that time, our understanding of what a good medieval name looks like has evolved and changed, just like our understanding of what constitutes good garb has evolved and changed, and our understanding of what good medieval armor is has evolved and changed. Like them, our understanding will continue to evolved and change with time and further study.
However, people change their garb much more often than they do their names, so you will meet people whose names were once believed to medieval enough in style to register whose names might not be registerable now. But people don't necessaarily update their names, or put them in the closet like they do old garb. They wear them as part of their identity for the rest of their time in the SCA, unless they chose to change their name.
When someone submits their SCA name for registration, to some degree they naturally feel that they are submitting part of their identity, so if an SCA name is rejected, many submitters feel personally rejected. Less than 10 percent of names submitted for registration to the SCA College of Arms are returned for more work. Since people tend to take those returns personally, however, you might get the impression that more names are returned than are registered. This isn't so.
There are two major resources for SCA names on line.
- The SCA College of Arms names articles http://heraldry.sca.org/laurel/names.html
- The Academy of St. Gabriel names articles http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/
It is helpful to know what the Rules for Submission say: http://heraldry.sca.org/laurel/rfs.html