Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth’

On our holiday last week we stayed at historic Gurney Manor — sometimes called Gurney Street Manor — in Cannington, Somerset.

It is a very special place.

Rescued by the Landmark Trust in the 1980s, much of the fabric dates to before 1400, with substantial additions in the mid-to-late fifteenth century.

Because it largely came down in the world after the seventeenth century, many of its ancient features, including the fifteenth century covered passage across the inner courtyard linking the old kitchen to the hall, have survived.

Unsurprisingly, it proved quite a good hunting ground for names, which are almost text-book examples of the typical names through the centuries, demonstrating fluctuations in fashion both generally, and across the social spectrum.

The original owners — and the family who gave their name to the manor — were a branch of the baronial family of Gurney, the founder of which came to England with William the Conqueror. Only a few names are known from this earliest period, emerging from the fog of remote history; a RICHARD de Gurney, flourished in 1243, when he put in a claim on the mill, then in possession of his “kinsman” WILLIAM, son of PHILIP.

Richard had a son called ROBERT.

By the end of the thirteenth century, the property appears to have been owned by JOHN de Gurney, who was alive in 1327.

The last of the line at Gurney Manor, and probably the one responsible for much of the parts of the hall dating to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, was HUGH, who succeeded to the estate in 1358. Either he, or a son of the same name, was there in 1401, with a wife called BEATRICE.

He had no son, and so the manor passed to his daughter JANE — an unusual name at the time, when the usually feminine form of John was Joan. She married ROGER Dodesham.

Responsible for most of the fifteenth century additions was their son, another WILLIAM, who was a lawyer as well as a landowner.

William had sisters called JOAN and ELEANOR, and on his death in 1480, the Gurney Street Manor passed in trust to Joan’s daughter, AGNES, wife of WALTER Michell, who died in 1487. Agnes and Walter had three sons, who each succeeded in turn, WILLIAM, JOHN, and THOMAS.

Thomas, whose wife was called MARGARET, died in 1503, when the manor passed to his son, another THOMAS. He also had a daughter called ISABEL.

Thomas made a number of improvements and refinements to the house, adding fine windows and new chimneys — but it all came to an abrupt end on December 13, 1539, when he murdered his wife JOAN and sister-in-law ELEANOR, seemingly at Gurney Manor, before killing himself.

He had two known children, another JANE, and another RICHARD.

Richard, who married an ELIZABETH, died in 1563, leaving the manor to his son, TRISTRAM.

Tristram, meanwhile, died in 1574, when the manor passed to his brother, Sir BARTHOLOMEW.

On Bartholomew’s death in 1616, his lands were split between his daughters, JANE and FRANCES. Gurney passed to Jane, wife of WILLIAM Hockmore.

William had considerable property elsewhere, and Gurney’s owners no longer lived there; the house and its acres was let to tenants, so that by the late nineteenth century, it was regarded as just a (large) farmhouse.

The names of most of these tenants is lost, but we still know the names of the house’s owners, and their families.

Jane and William Hockmore, for instance, had six children, SUSANNAH, GREGORY, CHARLES, WILLIAM, FRANCES and RICHARD, not all of whom lived to adulthood.

Gregory, married to MARY, inherited in 1626, dying in 1653, when the estate passed to his son, also called GREGORY (he also had a daughter called JANE).

Gregory II, married to HONOR, also had two children, a son WILLIAM, and, quelle surprise, yet another JANE.

William, who inherted sometime between 1676 and 1680, married another MARY, and had three daughters, MARY, JANE and HONORA; only Honora survived to adulthood, becoming William’s heiress on his death in 1707-08.

She married DAVIDGE Gould (his mother’s maiden name was Davidge) around 1713, and had five children who survived to adulthood: Sir HENRY (d.1794), RICHARD (d.1793), HONORA (d.1802), WILLIAM (d.1799) and THOMAS (d.1808).

Henry, married ELIZABETH, and had two daughters, another ELIZABETH, and HONORA MARGARETTA. Elizabeth married TEMPLE Luttrell; Honora Margaretta, who died in 1813, married General RICHARD Lambart, 7th Earl of Cavan.

And Gurney passed through her to the Earls of Cavan.

(Temple Luttrell was an interesting character; an MP, he was reputedly also a smuggler, and built a folly, called Luttrell’s Tower, at Eaglehurst near Southampton. On his death in Paris in 1803, Luttrell’s Tower passed to the Earl of Cavan too. By pure coincidence, Luttrell’s Tower is also now owned by the Landmark Trust.)

Richard and Honora Margaretta had five children:

  • RICHARD HENRY ROBERT GILBERT (1783-85)
  • HONORA ELIZABETH HESTER (1784-1856)
  • ALICIA MARGARETTA HOCKMORE (1785-1818)
  • SOPHIA AUGUSTA (1787-98)
  • RICHARD HENRY (b. and d. 1788)
  • GEORGE FREDERICK AUGUSTUS (1789-1828)
  • EDWARD HENRY WENTWORTH VILLIERS (1791-1812)

George, who died before his father, married the simply named SARAH, and had five children:

  • HENRIETTA AUGUSTA (d. 1874)
  • ALICIA (d.1913)
  • JULIA (d.1897)
  • FREDERICK JOHN WILLIAM (1815-87)
  • OLIVER GEORGE (1822-98)

Frederick John William’s wife was CAROLINE AUGUSTA, and they also had five children:

  • MARY HYACINTHE (d.1933)
  • SARAH SOPHIA (d.1914)
  • FREDERICK EDWARD GOULD (1839-1900)
  • OCTAVIUS HENRY (1855-1919)
  • ARTHUR (1858-1937)

Frederick Edward Gould’s wife was MARY SNEADE (Sneade was her middle name — her surname was Olive), and their children:

  • FREDERICK RUDOLPH (1865-1946)
  • ELLEN OLIVE (1867-1945)
  • MAUD EDITH GUNDREDA (1869-1940)
  • LIONEL JOHN OLIVE (1873-1940)
  • HORACE EDWARD SAMUEL SNEADE (1878-1950).

Frederick Rudolph had no children by his first wife CAROLINE INEZ; by his second wife, HESTER JOAN, he had two daughters; the first, ELIZABETH MARY was born in 1924.

The following year, Gurney was sold to its tenants of more than thirty years, the Bucknells, and with it an unbroken line of descent, if not of inhabitation, of at least eight hundred years, was finally severed.

The Bucknells were a thoroughly English Victorian middle class family; the father, a classic “gentleman farmer” was a solid and respectable JAMES, his wife an equally establishment MARY ANN. One daughter was ELIZA HARRIS, the other, OLIVE MARY (possibly named in honor of the Countess of Cavan), and they also had a son, BENJAMIN JOHN.

In 1901, there were also three servants living with them at the manor: FRANK, EMILY and MABEL.

Gurney’s time once more owned by its inhabitants was short-lived; the Bucknells sold in 1934, and by the 1940s it had been subdivided into flats. By the 1980s, it was in a sorry, neglected state, with most of the flats empty, but then the Landmark Trust bought it, and the rest is (more!) history…

No-one lives there for more than three weeks at a time anymore, but it has been fully restored to its medieval glory and I think the place rather likes the variety of ever changing faces coming and going, and basks in their rapt admiration.

Read Full Post »

To end the year, I thought I’d feature some of the most interesting names gathered Out There this year:

Unsurprisingly, given our shared outlook on things, Isadora Vega at Bewitching Baby Names has featured some absolute gems. But my favorites have to be:

  • Icie — sweet and simple, but very seasonal — and it has that a la mode “-ie”
  • Madrigal — I’m amazed this had passed me by until now, particularly as I sang in a madrigal group at school, and Abbey at Appellation Mountain featured it in 2008. Ah well. That’s the joy and pain of names! The word “madrigal” first entered the English language in the late sixteenth century as the name of a type of secular part-song for several voices, usually sung without accompaniment — and this remains its principal meaning today. The song had originated in Italy, where it was called a madrigale, and it derived ultimately from the post-classical Latin matricalis meaning “maternal,” “simple,” and “primitive,” deriving ultimately from mater “mother.” What a fabulous Pagan name, if there ever was one!
  • Ulalume — the title of an evocative poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Very otherworldy.
  • Virelai — a type of song or lyric poem originating in fourteenth century France. The usual British English form is Virelay, which is just as nameworthy. There’s also the Middle English Verelai and Verilay — although that is getting a bit close to Verily… not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…

Elea at British Baby Names and I also seem to share similar tastes. The wonderful names I’ve encountered there this year have been overflowing, but I warm to these most of all:

  • Argantel – Breton girl’s name meaning “generous silver.”
  • Argantlowen – Breton girl’s name meaning “joyful silver.”
  • Elestren – Cornish for “iris.”
  • Elowen – Cornish for “elm.”
  • Finlo – Manx name meaning “white/blessed Lugh,” or the Manx form of Finley “white/blessed champion.”
  • Gwenlowen – Breton name meaning “joyful white.”
  • Izambro – a wonderful Victorian rarity, which Elea found in the 1847 BMDs. It would seem to be a variant of Isambard.
  • Morgelyn – Cornish for “sea-holly”
  • Orixa – the name of a plant, Orixa japonica, native to China and Japan. It also happens to be an alternative spelling of the Yoruba Orisha, described by Wikipedia as “is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system.”
  • Zereth – another of Elea’s finds of 1847, Zereth is biblical and means “span.”

Abbey at Appellation Mountain‘s provided plenty food for thought as always, but these are the ones I think have the most Pagan hearts:

  • Katniss — a name from the Science Fiction teenage novel The Hunger Games; makes a fresh change from the usual sci-fi girls’ names.
  • Merrilees – a surname, borne by a British celebrity female chef called Merrilees Parker. Although it got a mixed reception at Appellation Mountain, I think it’s a great name, an interesting alternative to Anneliese.
  • Sequioia – the only Sequoias we get in the UK are in arboretums, but they are widespread and beloved in America, and best known as “redwoods.” They take their name from a Cherokee called Sequoyah, who invented a syllabary for writing Cherokee.

From Lou at Mer de Noms, I particularly warmed to:

  • Fortuné – the French form of Fortunatus.
  • Swansea – well, if Chelsea can be used as a name, why not Swansea?
  • Tellou — Lou’s French friend; in her case, it’s a pet-form of Estelle.

Zeffy at Baby Names from Yesteryear has also has many a gem. My favorites were:

  • Ardalion – a saint, particularly now revered, it seems in the Russian Orthodox Church; it is from the Greek ardalion “water-pot,” and “water-trough.”
  • Ozro – the marvelously named Bladen Ozro Capell (1897-1959) brought Ozro to my attention. Its a curious name, of uncertain derivation, and one I intend to investigate more thoroughly in the new year. Is it a form of the biblical Ozer, or Russian Ozero? Or does the fact it says Ozra on his gravestone offer a clue? We shall see!
  • Tiece — a medieval French woman’s name.

Dorcas at Names from the Dustbin likewise has many a gem; these are the ones which sparkled most for me:

  • Betzabel — I agree with Dorcas that this is probably a variant of Bathsheba, possibly Occitan or Provençal (since that’s where Elizabeth — the biblical Elisheba, which shares the same second element as Bathsheba turned into Isabel).
  • Creedence — apparently there’s a band of the name; and while I shy away from this spelling, I do think Puritan Credence has distinct possibilities.
  • Fenway – to what extenct Fenway is associated in America with the Red Sox outside Boston I honestly can’t say; but in the UK I doubt there are many that would make the connection.
  • Freelove – this Puritan museum piece didn’t have quite the same sentiments behind it as the 1960s take on it!

Kristen’s Marginamia is aways a visual feast as well as a treasure trove of distinctive, off-beat names. Narrowing down to just a few is difficult!

  • Boheme — I didn’t know Girl’s Gone Child until the names of her twins were announced, and it was at Marginamia I read about it first!
  • Luumu –Finnish for “plum”
  • Rosegold — we have Marigold, why not Rosegold? Especially for those with Welsh connections, as rose gold is particularly associated with the land of song (and Russia).
  • Spindle — immediately conjures images of fairy tales and spindle trees. I hadn’t considered it before, but when I saw it at Marginimaia, I thought, yup, that could work.
  • Valo — the beautiful name of one of Kristen’s daughters, meaning “light” in Finnish (and “eight” in Malagasy).
  • Verabel — seems to be just a combination of Vera and -bel; Verabel is best known as an American artisan jeweler.
  • Vrai — “true” in French. Gorgeous.

Rowan at Eponymia has also provided me with lots of name inspiration — it’s been a particular joy browsing all those Olympic lists! Again, there’s been so many interesting discoveries, but these are my picks:

  • Badou — a Gambian name; I think I like names ending in “oo” even more than those in “o”!
  • Cadeau — French “gift”; very much a “why not?” kind of name…
  • Crake  — best-known as the corn-crake today, the word was once used — and can still be found — as a dialect word in parts of the North of England meaning “raven.”
  • Draško — a Slavic name, arising as a pet-form of names with the element dorgu meaning “precious.”
  • Siarhei — the Belorusian form of Sergei.

Sarah’s For Real Baby Names is always a source of inspiration and delight, where I get many a thrill from seeing unusual names actually being used out there — for real — as well as joy in adding new names to my collection! These are just some the gems I’ve added this year from For Real:

  • Geo — presumably inspired by the use of the prefix geo- forming words like geography and geophysics, it defiitely falls into the “why not?” category, especially for Nature lovers and Gaiaists. The prefix derives from the Greek “Earth.” Geo also works as a short-form of George…
  • Monet — the surname of the great French impressionist; soft, cultural and still quite unisex. Nice.
  • Renegade — I do like a good “word name,” and I love this one. Makes a great alternative to Maverick.
  • Tutu — whether its the ballet skirt or the South African bishop commemmorated here (or even the class of a degree), I warm to Tutu; it’s got that same chirpiness as names like Lilou and Lulu, and particularly makes a great, quirky middle name.

And last, but by no means least, Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda introduced me to some of Australia’s quirky innovations:

  • Alira, Alirah — almost certainly an Australian take on Aleera, a name which featured in the 2005 film Van Helsing, which, for some reason, has recently captured the Australian imagination.
  • Colebee — I love the “-bee” ending! A suburb of Sydney, named after a nineteenth century Aboriginal guide.
  • Kirrily — an Ozzie innovation, probably in essence a variant on Kerry-Lee, but there are some nice Maori and Aboriginal options which may have inspired the spelling.
  • Taiga — actually Japanese, I love this name’s meaning and sound — pronounced both the Japanese and English ways.

What delights will 2012 bring? I can hardly wait! Happy New Year!

Read Full Post »

Speculation is mounting in Britain that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting.

And a recent change to the rules of royal succession means that their first child will be first in line to the throne, regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy.

Which means the choice of name takes on extra special importance.

It’s not  true to say that since Queen Victoria, all heirs presumptive to the throne have borne the names of former kings or queens – but it’s almost true.

The exceptions are King Edward VII, whose full name was Albert Edward, his oldest son Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence, and King George VI, whose actual name was Albert Frederick Arthur George,

And Victoria herself, of course, who was Alexandrina Victoria.

And so, it is probably safe to say that, even if the child has a first name which has not been borne by a ruling monarch, its second name will be, and that will be its eventual throne name.

However, Kate is clearly a traditionalist through and through, so even if the throne name is a middle name instead of a first, it is very unlikely indeed any and all names the child will bear won’t feature somewhere in the royal family tree.

Which will be?

Well, it’s certainly noticeable that none of the Queen’s granddaughters have been called Victoria, which, given the fact a baby girl would one day be queen, has to be top of the list of names for Kate and Wills’ baby if it’s a girl.

Another likely contender is Mary. There has been a royal princess of the name virtually continually since the time of the fourteenth-century Mary of Woodstock, daughter of King Edward I – until the death of Queen Mary in 1953. It is another name notable for being ‘reserved’ since, prevented from use by more minor royals. It’s not remotely fashionable at present (nor is Victoria in Britain) – but that’s never bothered the royals before, and is unlikely to trouble them now. It might even be considered in the name’s favour.

Elizabeth must also a pretty major contender. That it might to be on the ‘reserved’ list was in evidence in 2003, when Prince Edward picked Louise for his daughter. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother had died not long before and if Elizabeth wasn’t on the list of names ‘put aside’ for royals higher up the pecking order, it would have, perhaps, been a rather more likely choice.

Then there are the names of the three ‘almost queens’, which might, possibly, be judged acceptable for a future Queen of the Realm, namely Jane, Charlotte and Matilda. Lady Jane Grey was ‘Queen for Nine Days’ in 1553; she was never crowned, and ended up with her head on the block, but, nevertheless, she was declared Queen of England after the death of her cousin, King Edward VI.

Meanwhile, we would have had a Queen Charlotte, had Princess Charlotte of Wales not died in childbirth in 1817. Her death sparked a national crisis, as King George III had prevented all his other children from marrying. That all changed; the princes all set about marrying and reproducing – and Queen Victoria was one of the results.

Lastly, Matilda, daughter of King Henry I and mother of King Henry II was de facto queen in 1141; and she and her cousin Stephen, the man formally considered king during the period, were embroiled for many years in a messy civil war. Peace finally came when Stephen promised to make Matilda’s son his heir.

And while it would be unlikely as a first name, I’ll eat my crane bag if Diana doesn’t feature amongst her likely four given names.

As for boys, there is one name which is screaming out as top contender for Wills and Kate’s first son – George. Like Victoria and Mary, it has had a distinctly ‘reserved’ sign on it for the last fifty years. George is also one of the most popular names amongst the British Upper Class – half of Wills’ Old Etonian friends will be Georges.

Are there others? Well, most of the names of other kings are currently ‘occupied’, which is likely to rule them out: Charles, by Will’s dad, Henry by his brother, Edward by his uncle, James by his cousin, Richard by a second cousin, William by Wills himself. Those which are not are limited to John and Stephen.

John is a no-no; it is regarded as the royal family’s unlucky name, and is unlikely to see use again for centuries.

Stephen is an interesting one; since King Stephen’s time, it has never been used again. The fact that it is ‘unfashionable’ at the moment, however, is perhaps more likely to count in its favour; the royals have never particularly concerned themselves about such things. I would be surprised, though; after all, look what happened when John got resurrected from the medieval scrolls…

There are also the names of the ‘almost-rans’, which widen the choice a bit. Probably the most likely of this bunch for Kate and Wills is Arthur. King Henry VII’s eldest son was called Arthur, and would have been king had he not died before his father, while, a few centuries earlier, Arthur, Duke of Brittany had been the intended heir of King Richard I. It is also one of both Prince Charles’ given names and Wills’. It’s also another name which has seen most use in the last thirty years in the British upper class.

Other sometime heirs presumptive of British Kings, who never made the throne because they died before their fathers were Eustace, Count of Bologne (son of King Stephen), Alphonso, Earl of Chester (son of King Edward I), Frederick, Prince of Wales (son of King George II), and the already mentioned Albert, Duke of Clarence (son of King Edward VII). Frederick might have been a distinct possibility – but it is already borne by another of Will’s second cousins, Lord Frederick Windsor.

Really, of the others, only Albert is a serious contender, although it is telling that neither King Edward VII, nor King George VI ruled as King Albert I. And it is also worth bearing in mind that when King George was born, he was not expected to inherit the throne – he had an older brother, Edward (later King Edward VIII).

But Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence, would have been King Albert I.

Still, it would be seen as a break in convention for a baby born to be king or queen to bear a name other than one of the names of its predecessors on the throne – and I think Kate (if not Wills) is rather too conventional for that…

Read Full Post »

For the last month, I have been in France — for much of that time, in Provence.

It is a region with a much deserved reputation for spectacular scenery and picturesque villages. In the region where we stayed, these clung as though by magic to impossibly steep hillsides gazing idly down dramatic gorges, draped in pines, evergreen oaks, olives and vines.

It is also an exceedingly historic region, always set a bit apart from the rest of France. Once, the people didn’t even spoke French, but Provençal, a dialect of Occitan — a language closer to Catalan than to French — although Provençal is sometimes used to refer to Occitan in general, and the langue d’Oc of medieval troubadours.

Unsurprisingly, it has a whole collection of names and variants of names unique to the region.

And it was in Provence that names like Isabella and Eleanor first arose.

During our stay, I kept my ears open, but was disappointed that, by and large, the names I encountered — particularly among the children — were little different to the rest of France. The fashion in France at present is for names of foreign origin, and the favored region for more unusual native monikers is Brittany.

But we did encounter some, especially among my own generation.

I love the fact so many Provençal girls names end in -o; it makes a refreshing change, and is very contemporary.

Here is a selection of my personal favorites. Some, like Zouè, are relatively recent — others, like Azalaïs, are medieval.

GIRLS:

  • AgatoAgatha
  • Aïs — diminutive of ANAÏS and/or ALAÏS
  • AlaïsAlice (features in Kate Mosse’s 2005 novel Labyrinth); ultimately from Adelaide
  • AlienorEleanor
  • Anaïs — in Provence, used as a form of Anne or Agnes — not actually found prior to the nineteenth century
  • Anetoun — a double diminutive form of Ano (Anne)
  • AzalaïsAdelaide (Alice)
  • Babeleto — diminutive of Eisabèu/Isabèu (Elizabeth/Isabella)
  • BergidoBirgitte
  • Bielo — diminutive of Gabrielo (Gabrielle)
  • BregidoBridget
  • CelinoCeline
  • Chantaloun — diminutive of French Chantal
  • Clareto, Claroun — diminutives of Claro
  • ClaroClare/Claire
  • CloutildouClotilda
  • Delaïdo — diminutive of Adelaïdo (Adelaide)
  • Eliso — diminutive of French Élisabeth (Elizabeth)
  • EstefanoStephanie
  • Fanfan — probably a diminutive of ESTEFANO. Made fairly well-known (at least in France) by the 1952 film Fanfan la tulipe (remade in 2003) — in which Fanfan is a man — and Alexandre Jardin’s 1985 novel Fanfan, filmed in 1993.
  • Fino — diminutive of Delfino (Delphine) and/or JÒUSEFINO
  • FlourFlora/Fleur
  • GlaudioClaudia
  • IoulandoYolande
  • Janetoun — double diminutive of Jano (Jane/Jeanne)
  • JòusefinoJosephine (the name of our villa’s housekeeper!)
  • Jóuselet — variant/diminutive of JÒUSEFINO
  • Laïdo — diminutive of DELAÏDO
  • Lali, Lalìo — diminutives of Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie)
  • Laloun — diminutive of LALI
  • Lìo — diminutive of names ending in -lìo, such as Eulalìo (Eulalia/Eulalie), Natalìo (Natalie), Rosalìo (Rosalie)
  • Lisoun — diminutive of ELISO
  • Lodi, Loudi — diminutive of Eloudìo (Elodie)
  • Madaloun — diminutive of Madaleno (Madeline)
  • Magali, Magari — probably Magaret, but possibly a variant of Madaleno (Madeline — from the original Magdalene)
  • Maïoun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • Marioun — diminutive of Marìo (Mary/Marie)
  • MelioEmilia
  • Mirèio — coined by the poet Frederic Mistral for his poem Mirèio (1859). From the Occitan mirar “to admire.”
  • Naïs — diminutive of ANAÏS
  • Ninoun — pet-form of Catarino (Katherine)
  • Rieto — pet-form of Enrieto (Henrietta)
  • RosoRose
  • SoufioSophia/Sophie
  • SoulanjoSolange
  • Talìo — diminutive of Natalìo (Natalie)
  • Teldou, Tildeto — diminutives of names containing –tild– or –teld-, like CLOUTILDOU
  • VitòriVictoria
  • ValorìValeria/Valerie
  • Zeto, Zetou — diminutives of JÒUSEFINO
  • Zouè Zoe

BOYS:

  • Amiel – said to be the Provençal form of French Emile
  • AudouardEdward
  • BartoumiéuBartholomew
  • BerenguiéBerenger
  • Calendau — from the Latin kalends, used of the first day of a month and, in Provence, for Christmas Day.  The hero of Mistral’s poem Calendau (1867)
  • CharleCharles
  • Charloun — diminutive of CHARLE
  • Ciprianet — diminutive of Ciprian (Cyprian)
  • DàviDavid
  • Deri — diminutive of Frederi/Federi (Frederick)
  • Dovi — dimunituve of Ludovi (Ludovick/Louis)
  • Estève, EstièneStephen
  • GabrieùGabriel
  • Glaude, GlàudiClaude, Claudius
  • JaufretGeoffrey
  • Jaume James
  • JòrgiGeorge
  • LuLuke
  • Luquet — pet-form of LU
  • Maïus — curious name of uncertain origin. In use in Provence since at least the late nineteenth century. Possibly conceived as a masculine form of MAÏOUN.
  • MasMax
  • MiquèuMichael
  • OuliviéOliver
  • PascauPascal
  • PèirePeter/Pierre
  • Pierroun — diminutive of French Pierre
  • RafèuRaphael
  • RoubinRobin (yes, the English Robin — one of the foreign names embraced by the French in the twentieth century)
  • Savié — probably Xavier, but possibly Savior (best known as a name in the Spanish form Salvador)
  • SilvanSilvanus
  • SimounSimon
  • TeoudorTheodore
  • Titoù – Either Titus or a diminutive of Batit (Baptist)
  • Titoun — diminutive of TITOÙ
  • ToumasThomas
  • Ugue, UguesHugh
  • VincènVincent
  • VitourVictor
  • Zavié — variant of SAVIÉ
  • — diminutive of Joùseù (Joseph)

Read Full Post »

This morning, I read a post over on Waltzing More than Matilda about a baby called Jasper, and it got me musing about names which, on the surface, appear to be straightforward adoptions of English words, but are, in fact — in origin at least — entirely unrelated. The most popular name of this kind currently in use is Lily, and after yesterday’s Harry Potter Premier! post, it seems the perfect name to put a spotlight on today.

Lily — now almost exclusively associated with the flower (so much so that the Wikipedia entry entirely fails to mention its original roots) — actually arose in the Middle Ages as a short-form of Elizabeth — Lylie.  This quickly developed its own pet-form — Lillian/Lilian, which has been treated as a name in its own right since at least the 16th Century. It didn’t see much use, though, until the latter 19th Century, when it rapidly became one of the most popular girls’ names across the English-speaking world. And, inevitably, it was usually shortened to Lily. Lily was also very popular in its own right in the early 1900s in the UK; in the US, however — where short and pet-forms often seem to be shunned in favour of the full form — Lily remained relatively rare.

Like all names that enjoy great popularity, a time came when it started to be considered ‘over-used’, and, as people began to neglect it in favour of new darlings, it became associated with a particular generation. Thus, it came to pass that, by the 1960s, Lily and Lillian had ended up firmly in the ‘old Biddy’ category. I had an aunt of the name, and I’m afraid that even now, I struggle to associate Lily with anything other than alarming encounters with yellow dentures in a plastic mug, rows of granny pants and surgical stockings strung over a bath to dry, and a very particular kind of smell — one which didn’t bring lilies to mind..

Lily’s turning point in the US was in 1963, with an episode of Western TV series Wagon, called ‘the Lily Legend’. It boosted Lily from 983rd place in the Social Security Administration‘s ranks of that year to a dizzying 951st. The following year, Lily’s real saviour came along — Lily Munster in the TV sit-com The Munsters, which enjoyed its first run between 1964-66. Re-runs of this classic comedy over the following decade and a half are almost certainly responsible for keeping Lily hovering around the 1000th mark, rather than sinking still further. Further Munster spin-offs of various kinds, flower-power in the 70s, and the love of all things Victorian — which began in the 70s and flourished in the 80s — triggered the start of Lily’s complete rehabilitation, and it has been on the up in the US since ever since. In the late 90s and early 00s, it received a further massive boost — and gained what is now probably its most famous association  — from Harry Potter, as the name of Harry’s devoted mother, Lily Potter. It can be no coincidence that it was in 2002 — following the release of the first Harry Potter film at the end of 2001 — that the name first leapt into the top 100 in the US.

There is a little irony to all of this. For, in 1960 — the year that the fictional Lily Evans Potter was born — Lily had sunk about as far as it could go in Britain; only 34 little girls in England and Wales were really given the name Lily (and no, none of them was an Evans!). In 1965, it had sunk to just 10. Then, in 1966 — the year the film Munster, Go Home!  was released — it shot up to 59. It wasn’t all plain sailing after that — it dithered a bit until the early 80s, when, like in the US, it really began to take off. But Harry Potter has unquestionably influenced Lily’s astronomical rise in the UK in the last ten years, as much as elsewhere. In 1996, the year before the first Harry Potter was published in the UK, Lily was 83rd — it actually fallen two places from the previous year. In 1998, the year after publication, it had leapt to 62nd and by 2001, it was 36th. In 2002, it went up to 29th (and this is all without taking into account the different spellings, which would place the name considerably higher still).

I don’t usually go in for such in depth tracking of a name’s popularity — but Lily’s history is interesting because its reversal in fortune can be traced so clearly to two distinct products of popular culture. Yet Lily is one of those names held up as ‘traditional’ and ‘normal’, etc by those who like to knock more unusual or innovative names brought to a wider audience by some media source or other. They are entirely unaware — or conveniently forget — that Lily, like most of the names currently in vogue, is just as much a product of media influence and fashion as any other.

Lily is still a great name — not everyone has a smelly Auntie Lily to tarnish it for them — and I for one find it a bit sad that it is only a matter of time — and probably not very long from now either — that the arbiters of fashion will brand it ‘over-used’ and ‘out-dated’, and it will be promptly popped back into the reject bin for another sixty or seventy years. Ah well. Such are the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Lily Munster and Lily Potter will still remain, keeping it ever young in fantasy, until the next generation of baby Lilys come along.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers

- shop7 - shop7 - price5 - shop7 - shop7 - price5 - shop7 - price5 - price5