There are many female characters in ASOIAF who are married but are known by their maiden name, not their husband's. Genna Lannister married a Frey, Delena Florent married a Norcross, Melessa Florent married a Tarly, and yet all of them are known by their maiden name. But then Olenna Tyrell (née Redwyne,) Lysa Arryn (née Tully) and Catelyn Stark (née Tully) all go by their marriage name. Why the inconsistency?

This question addresses the issue for Cersei specifically, and the explanation that Cersei is proud, so would refuse to take the name of a husband she despised, makes sense; but that doesn't explain why so many married women are known by their maiden names. As System Down points out on the linked thread, there is no mention of Selyse Baratheon, Margaery Baratheon, Jeyne Stark or Elia Targaryen. Why are some women known by their husband's name, and others not?

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    Not read A Song of Ice and Fire but I'm willing to raise a possibility: those who keep their maiden names, are they part of more powerful noble houses? That is, do the women merely use the name of the more powerful family?
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:03
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    Yes, all of the women I've listed are part of a noble house, but I haven't picked them out based on the size of the house. ASOIAF is set in a feudal-esque society resembling medieval England, and I was under the impression that, in such a society, women took the name of their noble husbands no matter the size of strength of either House. But perhaps you're right. It's difficult to know because ASOIAF is set in an alternate universe, so of course we can't exactly model their rules on our rules.
    – Lou
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:05
  • in medieval Europe certainly, as far as I know; but Westeros isn't as you said - Martin can make innovations; but that's just my 2 cents to think about, I can offer nothing else from here :)
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:07
  • Names, naming conventions, and spelling were all much more fluid before the 20th century. I'm just glad GRRM didn't model Westoros on Imperial Russia!
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 13:27
  • @LeoKing: what Joe L. said. In medieval England, women did not necessarily take the name of their noble husbands - "medieval England" covers a very large swath of time, during which many things changed drastically, including naming conventions.
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


Actually, in most of the cases you point out (as I explained in the linked question) the issue is that those women married someone who was either on, or in-line-for, the throne. The rules for how and when noble women take their husbands name (in the real world) get very complex when you add in royalty, but the essential point is that a woman marrying a king or prince doesn't get "added to" the line of inheritance, though her children do. So queens, princesses, etc. rarely take their husbands name. This covers Cersei (married a Baratheon king), Margaery (married three Baratheon kings), Selyse (married a Baratheon "prince"), Jeyne (married a Stark king), and Elia (married a Targaryen Prince).

In the other cases you mentioned, it's not nearly as clear why the woman didn't take her husbands name when she married, but note that taking the name of her husband is supposed to be a privilege the woman gets to have as part of her marriage. Marriage is the primary means for a lesser house to raise its social and political status. Thus, it makes sense for a Tully marrying a Stark or Arryn to take the Stark/Arryn name (all three are Great Houses, but the Starks and Arryns are also the Wardens of the North/East).

On the other hand, it's hard to find a noble house that has higher status than the Lannisters. Genna, and more importantly, the men in her family, may actually prefer to keep using her maiden name, rather than call her a Frey, because they may see it as a step down in status.

Ultimately, as I also mentioned in the linked question, Martin simply hasn't told us how the names are picked, and as best as I recall, none of the "exception cases" have ever explicitly been called out. Thus, the best we can do is guess that it's personal preference on part of the women (or, more likely in Westerosi society, her father) which name she goes by after marriage.

  • Okay. Do you have any ideas about the Freys themselves? Kyra Frey, for example, marries Ser Garse Goodbrook; Lythene Frey marries Lord Lucias Vypren; her daughter Elyana Vypren marries Ser Jon Wylde; but all of them are listed by maiden names in AWOIAF.
    – Lou
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:25
  • As you point out, they're a house of low status, referred to as "upstarts" by Catelyn; if they could, I imagine the Frey girls would have wanted to take the names of presumably older and nobler houses.
    – Lou
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:26
  • What do you mean? Edmure survives. I'm not really sure if the Freys consider the marriage pact intact though. A little like murdering your best friend's family and beating the crap out of them and saying "...But we're still friends, right?"
    – Lou
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:37
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    yeah, oops, I thought he was killed, but he was taken prisoner. Probably same effect, though, as you pointed out. Also, as far as the wiki is concerned, it always refers to women by their maiden names; e.g. it always refers to Cat as "Catelyn Tully" even on the same page that it quotes someone calling her "Catelyn Stark". I'd need to look up their mentions in the novels to see more.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:42
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    I will point out, though, that the Freys don't consider themselves a low-status house. Though they were technically Tully bannermen, Walder Frey considers his position as "Lord of the Crossing" to be legitimate (or else, Edumure could have just ordered him to let the Starks cross). He may sincerely consider the Goodbrooks and Vyprens beneath him, I'm not really clear.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:46

Norcross, Florent and Tarly are all Noble houses in the Reach and those women are known by their maiden names out of habit.

Genna Lannister may be known by her maiden name due to the large number of Freys.

The Tullys married men from different kingdoms to their own so wouldn't have been known in the area.

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