You may have noticed that multiple names are often used for the saint of Ely — Æthelthryth, Etheldreda, and Audrey, and that I tend to favor the last.
I can see calling her Æthelthryth as that was the Old English name she was actually known by. The problem with this name for a saint that is still actively known at Ely and elsewhere is that few know who to pronounce it and most can’t spell it. It would be helpful if an Anglo-Saxonist would comment here on the how it should be pronounced.
Etheldreda is derived from the Latin version of the name Æthelthryth. The Life of Wilfrid spells her name Aethiltrythae* and Bede spells it Aedilthrydam*! The Liber Eliensis gives her name as Æđeldređe*. We seem to have a process of the đs being converted to ‘d’s and converting the ‘try’ of the Life of Wilfrid to ‘dry’. This is probably wrong but perhaps some nice Latinist will correct me (please do!). Anyway, Etheldreda evolved from these Latin forms. As Latin was the language of the church for nearly a thousand years, this is the form of her name used in liturgy. Unfortunately, even though the Anglican liturgies are all now in English (or the vernacular language of the area), Ely Cathedral still uses Etheldreda as the form of her name. When it comes to modern pronunciation and spelling, Etheldreda isn’t much better than Æthelthryth. It also forms a distinct disconnect between St. Æthelthryth and the modern form of her name, Audrey.
The name Audrey first appears, as far as I know, in Marie’s Vie Seinte Audree. It is unclear though if this is necessarily a French adaption. The South English Legendary (14th century) spells her name Aeldri*! The hardest part for me to see naturally occurring is the Æ/Ethel to Aud but such things did seem to happen, perhaps from Edri? Anyway, Audrey is the form of the name that evolved from Æthelthryth. I prefer it because it is pronounceable, easy to spell and the version given to girls today. Not many Americans know that a St. Audrey exists, much less that she is the source of the name.
* Spellings come from quotes in Blanton’s Signs of Devotion previously reviewed.