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All the hedge knights that I can think of introduced in the series so far - Ser Illifer the Penniless, Ser Duncan the Tall, Ser Pate of the Blue Fork, Ser Shadrich of the Shady Glen, etc. - don't have last names, at least that we know of. The one exception I recall is Ser Creighton Longbough, but there is no mention of a House Longbough on AWOIAF, so this may be a name Ser Creighton has invented, not a House name.

I can't find any information that specifically precludes hedge knights from having House names. But (minor spoilers AFFC)

"Knights they are," said Petyr. "Their gallantry has yet to be demonstrated, but we may hope. Allow me to present Ser Byron, Ser Morgarth, and Ser Shadrich. Sers, the Lady Alayne, my natural and very clever daughter ... with whom I must needs confer, if you will be so good as to excuse us." The three knights bowed and withdrew, though the tall one with the blond hair kissed her hand before taking his leave. "Hedge knights?" said Alayne, when the door had closed.

Which seems to suggest that hedge knights as a rule don't have House names.

So my question is twofold:

  • Is there a reason that none of the hedge knights we've met appear to have House names (Ser Creighton possibly notwithstanding)?

  • Could someone from a noble House become a hedge knight and retain their House name?

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Richard, I don't see the point of a GOT tag: though I might be misremembering, I don't think hedge knights are referenced or named in the series. –  Leo King Aug 6 at 20:37
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Keep in mind that Sansa is extremely well-versed in House coats/crests (both from her time in King's Landing and education in Winterfell) and would have immediately recognized that none of the Knight's markings belonged to a House. –  ssell Aug 6 at 20:50
    
Good point, although I feel the need to point out that houseless knights and hedge knights aren't the same thing, e.g. Ser Bronn. –  Leo King Aug 6 at 20:51
    
Although on second thought, he becomes the Lord of Stokeworth. I seem to recall there being other houseless knights though. –  Leo King Aug 6 at 20:53
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In addition, Petyr's line about how "their gallantry has yet to be demonstrated, but we may hope," is telling. It implies the knights will soon enter his service, that they aren't famous, but also that they could be unsavory characters. That pretty much screams "hedge knights." –  TenthJustice Aug 6 at 20:59

4 Answers 4

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The only people in Westeros who have last names are the nobles.

The rest of the populace go by a single name: Pate, Wat, Will ... etc. Sometimes with a qualifier to differentiate people who have the same name and live in the same place, like the villagers recruited in Sworn Sword (Wet Wat and Barleycorn Wat). It is only a nobleman, that belongs to a noble house, who can have a proper last name denoting his lineage. So Robb of house Stark is Robb Stark.

Now knights are in an interesting place. They have an honorific placed in front of their names, are a step above the commoners, but that honorific doesn't come with anything else. No lands, thus no noble house, thus no last name. So unless a knight is already of noble birth, he won't get a last name just by being knighted.

Hedge knights, by definition, are poor knights who are not sworn to any single lord on a permanent basis. The vast majority of them are of common stock, since nobly born knights tend to find employment easier with other nobles, which gives us a lot of knights living in the hedges with no last name. To give themselves proper airs most of those titleless knights adopt a qualifier of some sort to distinguish them. A home village (Ser Arlan of Pennytree), or a physical trait (Ser Duncan the Tall), and so on.

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Okay. I wonder where Ser Creighton and Ser Clayton's surnames came from. –  Leo King Aug 6 at 23:44
    
By "since nobly born knights tend to find employment easier with other nobles" I believe you mean "since nobly born knights tend to find employment easier with other knights" –  user20310 Aug 7 at 10:12
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@LeoKing - You bring up a very interesting case! A bit of research shows that the earliest mention of a Heddle is Ser Tommard "Black Tom" Heddle in Sworn Sword. He was married to the daughter of Lord Ambrose Butterwell, lord of Whitewalls. Not only was he head of his house, he was a former Hand and the grandson of a Hand. No small house were they. So it stands to reason that Heddle was highborn too. The Butterwells were stripped of their holdings after being implicated in the attempted second Blackfyre rebellion. –  System Down Aug 7 at 12:40
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Black Tom Heddle had an active role in the conspiracy, so he probably had his holdings stripped as well. So perhaps the Heddles became so impoverished that they became lowly inn keeps. –  System Down Aug 7 at 12:44
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It is somewhat unclear, I think, this naming tradition. If it were the case that anyone with two names was a noble, one would think that they would make a bigger deal of it, such as with the Slynts. The best example of the change from common to noble, I think, is Davos, who went from Davos to Ser Davos Seaworth, and Lord Davos Seaworth. –  TLP Aug 7 at 13:14

Hedge knights are poor, unsworn to any lord or master, and go from one place to another looking for any sort of employment. It's not exactly the life for a noble. Most nobles who become knights have either trained their entire lives in castles, and can therefore find gainful employment, or can always go serve a family member. Even most bastard knights we see aren't hedge knights.

So Sansa probably made a fair assumption in assuming that when Littlefinger names the three knights, none of whom have last names, they're probably hedge knights. But she could have just as easily made that assumption if their clothes, given names, or behavior marked them as common.

There is one more example of a hedge knight with a last name: Ser Hyle Hunt, who journeys with Brienne in A Feast for Crows. So it's not a set rule by any means.

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I don't think we know why most of the hedge knights we have seen don't have any last names, but a few do:

Hyle is from a noble house (the Hunt) from the Reach.

That kind of answers your second question. A person from a noble family can be a hedge knight.

The other two are simple/normal people that have become hedge knights.

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Huh, I hadn't considered Hyle as a hedge knight... I guess that makes sense, after he was kicked out of Lord Tarly's service. –  Leo King Aug 6 at 20:48

We know why Ser Duncan the Tall doesn't have a last name because his background is described in the short story The Hedge Knight (I'm assuming it's the same person). Actually, having just searched for a link to the story I see there are two sequels that I haven't read - maybe there is more in them.

Anyhow, Ser Duncan was found as a small boy living wild and sort of adopted by another hedge knight (I don't think we ever learn his mentor's name). He made up his name when asked what it was on the grounds his mentor had called him Duncan and he was tall - nothing if not logical.

The implication is that anyone can be a hedge knight just by behaving as one. Given what a miserable life it is (the story states hedge knights have been known to become robbers during lean times) the role isn't likely to appeal to anyone with enough status to have a last name.

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Dunk's mentor was Ser Arlan of Pennytree. –  System Down Aug 7 at 12:56
    
"The implication is that anyone can be a hedge knight just by behaving as one" is incorrect, you must be Knighted. A Hedge Knight is just a knight who is not in direct sworn service to a lord. But for all intents and purposes they are the same. –  Mooz Aug 19 at 22:14

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