What is in a name?

The other day there was a Daily Post Writing Challenge about names, mainly thinking about your name and the meaning behind it – why did your parents give you the name they did?

I don’t really understand exactly why my parents chose Alexandra, initially my mother was planning to call me Ross if I was a boy and Rosalind if I was a girl, but when I came along my Mum decided on something totally different. My Dad’s boss at the time was called Alex, so no idea if that played a part! My siblings and I do not have middle names, something which I used to dislike when I was a child, most of my friends had them and I felt a bit left out. Initially I made up the middle name Mary when I was about 5 but then discarded it when I discovered that it was also my Mum’s middle name so I went with Amy for a while but soon stopped bothering. In some ways it was good not to have one when actually most of my friends with middle names were so embarrassed by the ones they had been lumbered with.

While I was thinking about that I thought about the people who over recent years have been given some pretty odd names to go along with particular trends, like calling their child Gandalf or Harry Potter. It often amazes me how many parents don’t seem to have a concept of how difficult it might be for a child to grow up with an odd name like that. Kids can be cruel, no matter how much we try to bring them up to be nice to others, it’s hard sometimes to not laugh at a weird name. But naming children after trending things is nothing new, as are weird sounding names.

In the course of my time as a genealogist I have come across some great names and I do often note down odd ones that make me laugh or just sound pretty fanciful or unique.

My ex had a Lettice Bowle in his tree which always amused me. And my husband has a Prizany Millington and some Bransome Bangle’s in his tree.

Usually when I am looking in parish records I come across some gems like these:

Epigony Pike

Golden Death

Makepeace Panting

Mary Thing

Rhoda Freak

Dick Styffes

Tibboll Whoper

Nebuchanezar Winch

Parmenas Cron

Righteous Reeve

Allaindine Green

Also on one page of a burial register from Chatham, Kent I found a couple of interesting entries:

A rather normal sounding John Bacon along with a Margaret Chicken and Christopher Crocodile!


What interesting names do you have in your tree or have come across while researching? I’d love to hear about them!

18 thoughts on “What is in a name?

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ it is nice to be able to attempt to make a living at something you enjoy and are good at!

      I often think that about some of the names I come across, like something out of a Dicken’s novel!

  1. Ha! Brilliant – great article. My Grandad hated his middle name so didn’t give his children a middle name – kinda tough if they hated the single one they had! A few years back there was a whole tribe of baby Pochahontases in Scotland, but I think that would have to be a brave choice… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you! I always find it interesting when you see families where some of the children have middle names and others don’t, not to mention the families where they name their kids the usual common names like John, Mary, Anne, George and then suddenly come out with a Cornelius or a Drusilla and then go back to the James, Jane…

      I do love odd names though, I have got a great book about rude names – it’s called Busty Slag and Nob End. My parents used to be friends with a church pastor called Randy Vickers. Always makes me laugh.

  2. Good thoughts – great post. I’ve often wondered where my name came from, but alas, didn’t start thinking about it til after my parents died. You’ve certainly run into some interesting names. I hope you’re keeping track of all of them (and their sources). Maybe someday you could publish an e-book and sell it on Amazon.

  3. Great post Alex; I love your list of names from the parish registers. I’d love to introduce myself as Epigony Pike! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sometimes it can get a little tedious and frustrating when families don’t branch out and pick something a bit different! You just start wishing for something a bit more uncommon after a while!

  4. I love this post. My favorite family name is Jane Zina Petrina Folkman. I think Jane Zina is so adorable. I have some other unusual ones but then way too many ‘James Young’s. Those get tricky to track down.

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