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Nyd, like it’s antecedant Hægl, Nyd represents a shift in the Runes to darker waters.

Its forms are as follows:

In all, it means “need,” and the runic poems emphasize the dire effects of being in need, coupled with the necessity of hard work — and hope — to overcome it.

In modern interpretation, it can stand as a warning of impending both of hardship and challenges, both physical and psychological needs, and obstacles that must be overcome.

But it also highlights the dichotomy between our desires and expectations and our actual situation. It forces us to assess what we really need, rather than simply desire.

Thus it warns us to focus on what really needs doing, and stop wasting time on the trivialities.

And, above all, it tells us that perseverance is always the key. With perseverance, we can overcome and achieve anything.

What names can reflect all this?

Nyd itself, when you think about it, isn’t a million miles away from Ned, while Naudiz and Nauthr have a certain exotic allure. Not — well, why not?

It’s not as though, as a runic name, it actually means “not,” now, is it?

There’s also the unrelated but very similar-looking Nydia, invented by Edward Bulwar-Lytton for his 1834 novel, Last Days of Pompeii.

As the concept of need and poverty isn’t one which many would feel inclined to choose to dedicate in a name, there aren’t many names which carry that meaning. But names which carry overtones of perseverence, hard work, and dedication, are worth consideration.

Here are some great options:

  • Almeric — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Amal — Old German: “work.”
  • Amalia –Old German girl’s name derived from AMAL.
  • Amalric — Old German boy’s name. AMAL + ricja “rule,” “ruler.”
  • Amalaswintha — Old German girl’s name. AMAL + swinde “strong.”
  • Amelia — usual modern form of AMALIA.
  • Amélie — French form of Amelia.
  • Amery — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Amory — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Angen — Welsh: “need,” “necessity.”
  • Athelstan — Old English name meaning “noble stone.”
  • Behar — Basque: “work.”
  • Beharra — Basque: “need,” “necessity”
  • Bill — well-known nickname of WILLIAM.
  • Billie, Billy — well-known nicknames of WILLIAM and WILHELMINA.
  • Constance — traditional girl’s name derived from CONSTANTIA.
  • Constancy
  • Constant
  • Constantia — feminine form of the Roman cognoman Constantius, from consto “to stand firm”
  • Diligence
  • Drive
  • Driver — English surname meaning “a driver”; used first of someone who drove cattle, but no reason in a name context not to interpret with the sense of “one who has drive.”
  • Dunstan — Old English name meaning “hill-stone.”
  • Emmeline — medieval name arising as a pet-form of AMALIA.
  • Emerick — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Emerson — “son of EMERY.”
  • Emery — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Emory — medieval form of AMALRIC.
  • Endeavor
  • Eysteinn — Norse name: “forever stone.”
  • Focus
  • Garnet — the stone promotes perseverance.
  • George — Greek: “famer”; perhaps the ultimate job  across the millennia requiring dediction and discipline to bring plans to fruition.
  • Gerek — Turkish: “need,” “necessity.”
  • Grit
  • Gwaith — Welsh: “work”
  • Ida — medieval name from Old Norse “work,” or Old German id “work.”
  • Idhunna — Norse Goddess. Old Norse: “work” + unna “love.”
  • Idonea — medieval name, probably derived from IDHUNNA.
  • Idony — medieval form of IDONY.
  • Lan — Basque: “work.”
  • Liam — Irish short-form of WILLIAM.
  • Lutte — French: “struggle.”
  • Mason — a job requiring perseverance and skill to produce creative work.
  • Mélisande — French variant of MILLICENT.
  • Millicent — usual form of AMALASWINTHA since the Middle Ages.
  • Millie — popular short-form of MILLICENT.
  • Milo — probably arose as short-form of a name beginning with AMAL.
  • Mina — short-form of WILHELMINA.
  • Moxie
  • Naphtali — biblical name. Hebrew: “my struggle.”
  • Oluchi — Igbo name: “work of (a) God”
  • Perseverance
  • Pluck
  • Práce — Czech: “work.”
  • Resolution
  • Savaş — Turkish name: “struggle,” “striving.”
  • Sisu — Finnish name: “determination”
  • Smith — another job which demands dedication to achieve items of both practicality and beauty.
  • Stamina
  • Stanley — English surname: “stone clearing.”
  • Stone — stone encapsulates Nyd possibly best of all; as a symbol of cold and hardness it represents well Nyd’s hardship, but its durability represents perseverance, with which hardship can be overcome.
  • Strive
  • Tenacity
  • Thurstan — Old English name: “Thor’s stone.”
  • Töö — Estonian: “work”
  • Työ — Finnish: “work”
  • Wilbert — Old English name: will “will” + beohrt “bright.”
  • Wilhelmina — feminine form of WILLIAM.
  • Will — as well as being a major short-form of WILLIAM, Will can be interpreted for exactly what it actually is, the word “will,” i.e. “determination”, the English cognate with the Old German vilja “will” of the name.
  • Wilfred — Old English name: will “will” + frið “peace.”
  • William — Old German name: will “will” + helm “helmet.”
  • Willis — surname derived from WILLIAM.
  • Wilma — short-form of WILHELMINA.
  • Wilmer — Old English name: will “will” + mær “famous.”
  • Wilmot — medieval pet-form of WILLIAM; used in medieval times for boys and girls.
  • Wilson — surname: “son of WILL.”
  • Winston — surname, deriving in part from the Old English name Wynnstan “joy stone.”
  • Zeal

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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.

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Last Friday, I speculated on the names of the first child of William and Kate, and, inevitably, Victoria was high on the list.

It is a little ironic that Victoria would now be considered a very traditional and conventional choice for a royal baby.

That wasn’t true when Victoria was named; Victoria — Latin for “victory” — was a rare name in Britain at the time, although it had been in use since the sixteenth century, one of the names plucked from Classical Antiquity. For to the Romans, Victoria was the personification of victory, and worshipped as a Goddess.

Why did Victoria receive such a name? Because that’s what her mother was called. She was Marie Louise Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield.

It wasn’t actually Queen Victoria’s first name, either. That was Alexandrina, after Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

Something else that is mildly ironic is the fact that since Victoria died, only one member of the royal family has received a name which had not been previously borne by a prince or princess of England or the United Kingdom — and that is Andrew. Yet Victoria herself actually made quite a point of breaking with tradition in the naming of her own children.

And her family makes a most interesting sibset.

Oldest of Queen Vicky’s children, born in 1840, was the Princess Royal, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa. Victoria was not just in honor of the Queen, but also the Queen’s mother, who was one of the little princess’s godmothers — the others being Adelaide, the wife of Victoria’s uncle, King William IV, and Mary, Duchess of Gloucester, one of the daughters of King George III. Louisa was the name of Prince Albert’s mother. Princess Victoria married Kaiser Friedrich III in 1858, and was the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II. She died aged only 48, in 1888.

Second was Albert Edward, born in 1841, who ruled as King Edward VII. In naming the heir to the throne such, Victoria caused quite a stir at the prospect of a future King Albert. That had, indeed, been Victoria’s wish; Edward himself chose to rule as Edward upon his succession. He was named after his father, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Victoria’s father, Edward, Duke of Kent, who had died when she was only a baby.

The third child was the tragic Princess Alice, later Grand Duchess of Hesse, whose full name was Alice Maud Mary. Alice, like Albert, had never been borne by a member of the Royal Family before. It is said it was suggested by the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, who was close to Victoria. Likewise Maud was also a break with tradition, demonstrating Victoria’s medieval tastes, though it was a nod to one of Princess Alice’s godparents, Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (Maud, as most folk know, being a medieval form of Matilda). She was born in 1843, and died in 1878, aged just 35, of diptheria, a month after her four year old daughter had also died of the disease.

Her family was particularly ill-fated; her two-year-old son had died a few years earlier after a fall from a window, while two of her daughters died in the Russian Revolution. Alix (later the Tsarina Alexandra) was famously shot with her family in a basement in 1917. Elizabeth, who married Grand Duke Sergei of Russia, was brutally murdered in 1918 along with other members of the imperial family. They were thrown down a mineshaft, grenades thrown in after them, and left to die.

Fourth of Queen Victoria’s children was Alfred Ernest Albert, later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Known as Affie, he was the second British prince to be called Alfred since the time of King Alfred; the first was one of the younger sons of King George III. He had died in infancy. Ernest was another new name in the British royal family — an import from Germany. It was the name of Prince Albert’s brother. Alfred was born in 1844, and died in 1900.

Queen Victoria’s fifth child was Princess Helena, later Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. Born in 1846, her full name was Helena Augusta Victoria. Helena was another new name for the royal family; she was named after one of her godparents, Hélène, Duchess of Orleans. Augusta was likewise in honor of a godparent, Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge. Princess Helena lived to quite a good age, dying in 1923 at the age of 77.

Sixth of Queen Victoria’s progeny was Princess Louise, later Duchess of Argyll. Born in 1848, her full, correct name was Louisa Caroline Alberta. Though baptised Louisa, she was always known as Louise. Caroline had been the name of King George IV’s estranged wife, and Alberta was, of course, in honor of her father. She lived to the ripe old age of 91, dying in Kensington Palace in 1939.

The Seventh child was Prince Arthur, later Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. He was born in 1850, and also lived to be 91, dying in 1942. His full name was Arthur William Patrick Albert. Arthur was very much a choice in line with Victorian fashion, and its love of all things Arthurian. He wasn’t the first prince to bear the name — but it had been a long time since the last: Arthur, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King Henry VII, who died aged 15 in 1502. One of the Duke of Connaught’s godparents, however, was the Duke of Wellington, whose name was, surprise surprise — Arthur. He also shared the prince’s birthday. The choice of William was in honor of both King William IV and another of Prince Arthur’s godparents, Wilhelm, then Crown Prince of Prussia, and later Kaiser Wilhelm I (he later became the Princess Royal’s father-in-law). No British prince had ever been called Patrick before, and its choice was in homage to Ireland — it was no coincidence Prince Arthur was made Duke of Connaught.

Prince Leopold was the penultimate child; later made Duke of Albany, his full name was Leopold George Duncan Albert. Leopold, another new name in the royal family tree, was in honor of the King of Belgium, whose first wife was Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter and heiress of King George IV, whose death in childbirth led to King George’s unmarried sons scrambling to marry and produce a new heir to the throne (which led to Queen Victoria’s birth). Leopold also happened to be the uncle of both Victoria and Albert; Victoria’s mother was his sister, and Albert’s father was his brother.  George was actually in honor of his godfather, King George V of Hanover, grandson of King George III. Leopold received the name Duncan in the same way Arthur acquired Patrick; the Dukedom of Albany had once been borne by heirs to the throne of Scotland. Leopold had the shortest life of all Victoria’s children; he was a haemophiliac and may also have epilepsy. He died in 1884, aged 30.

The youngest of Queen Victoria’s children was Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore, later Princess Henry of Battenberg. Beatrice was yet another name new to the royal family — as was Feodore. Mary was once more in honor of Mary, Duchess of Cambridge, and Feodore was after Victoria’s older half-sister, Anna Feodora of Leiningen. Feodore is one way in which the Russian form of Theodora is transliterated into the Latin alphabet from the Cyrillic. Beatrice was born in 1859, and lived to be 87. She was the last of Victoria’s children to die, passing on in 1944.

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I took to musing the other day about how popular the top ten names of 2010 in the USA were twenty-five years ago.

Will the names currently occupying the spots taken by America’s current favorites be the top ten in 2035?

First things first — where were today’s top ten boys’ names twenty-five years back?

The year was 1985. Hair was Big. Shoulder pads were even Bigger…

And 2010’s top ten occupied the following spots:

  1. Jacob: 35 (rising)
  2. Ethan: 308 (in decline; reached lowest ebb in 1986, ranked 333)
  3. Michael: 1 (reigned 1954-1998)
  4. Jayden:  Unranked (only 10 boys received the name in 1985)
  5. William: 16 (in decline; rose again from mid ’90s)
  6. Alexander: 50 (rising)
  7. Noah: 217 (in decline; started to rise again in 1990)
  8. Daniel: 5 (at its peak; has been dithering between the 5th and 12th spot ever since)
  9. Aiden: Unranked (only 19 boys called Aiden in 1985, and only 54 called Aidan)
  10. Anthony: 20 (slowly rising)

So who has filled their shoes now? And will they be 2035’s top ten?

  1. LUCAS is 35. A distinct maybe. Has been rising consistently since 1959, not too fast, not too slow. It is currently the most popular name in France, so the precedent is set… nearby, other contenders could be Caleb (33) or Isaac (39).
  2. JUDAH. In 308th place it is actually Emilio, but as lovely a name as it is, I can’t see it ever reaching the top ten. More likely from this section of the ranks is Judah (297) or maybe Finn (300), both rising rapidly in recent years.
  3. JACOB is 1. I doubt it. 1985’s top dog Michael was no 1 for nearly half a century. Jacob’s been there for over ten years, to be sure, but will it be there much longer? And does it have Michael’s staying power? Time will tell.
  4. RAFFERTY. A lot of names names were borne by just ten baby boys in 2010, including gems such as Yates, Taro, Soul, Rigel, Remus, Philemon, Odysseus, Orestes, Lion, Kit, Covey, Ashe, Altair. But Rafferty, I think, is the one to watch.
  5. ELIJAH. Matthew occupies the current 16th slot, but along with other former top-tenners close by — Christopher (13), Andrew (14) and David (15) — Matthew has had its day and will probably be still falling. Elijah (18), however, shows all the signs of heading into the top ten erelong.
  6. OWEN. Current no. 50 is Justin, which is in decline, and I don’t see turning. Owen, however, is only a couple of spots away at 47 and rising…
  7. SILASJohnathan is the real 217, but would be very unlikely to follow in Noah’s footsteps and make the top ten. Standard Jonathan (28), I think will always outrank its variant spellings. If any name from the 210s or 22os will be top ten in 25 years time, I’d put money on it being Silas (222).
  8. WILLIAM is 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if this tenacious classic is still in the top ten twenty-years from now. That or that other barnacle, Michael.
  9. INDIGO. Lots of names notched up just 19 bearers in 2010, including Aldrin, Arlan, Bayne, Bowman, Godric, Jehu, Mordecai, Sabin and Summit.  I think however, that there are stronger contenders among those names with 18 bearers in 2010, which include Ajax, Arrow, Griffith, Prentice, Roark and Sirius. But I’m going with the wildcard Indigo from those with 20 bearers last year, because I like it so much.
  10. JOSEPH is 20. He could do it, although that other old faithful James (19) could have clawed his way back up to the top ten too.

What girls’ names will be top of the tree in 2035? Find out tomorrow…

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Today marks the nine hundred and forty-fifth aniversary of the Battle of Hastings, a fact that might have got past me had I not spent last Friday morning visiting the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry with my Small Child.

We got there early, and, thankfully, being thoroughly out of Season now, we almost had the place to ourselves (a welcome, far cry from our trip to Versailles in mid-September when as well as experiencing the magnificence of Louis XIV’s palace, we also got to find out what sardines feel like when still in the tin).

As I eavesdropped on Small Child’s audiophone (much more entertainting than the grown-up version), “October 14” seeded itself in my brain, and what better way to commemorate both the battle and our very pleasant trip to Bayeux than by featuring some of the names which appear on the iconic tapestry?

Aelfgyva. The only woman mentioned by name on the tapestry, and one of only three women depicted (the others being Edward’s wife Edith and an unnamed woman fleeing a burning house with a little boy). A medieval spelling of a name which survived into the Early Modern period as Aileve and Latinized as Elgiva, the most correct Anglo-Saxon form is Ælfgifu “elf-gift.” She was Harold’s daughter.

Conan. Not the barbarian, but the Duke of Brittany. William’s war against him, in which Harold fought on William’s side, features in the early part of the tapestry. Also spelled Cunan on the tapestry, it is a diminutive of the Old Celtic for “dog” or “high.”

Edward. Occurs as Aedward and Edwardus on the tapestry, the name of the two-in-one king and saint. His death without an heir of his own body led, inexorably, to the battle. A classic English name — possibly the classic English name — meaning “rich guardian.”

Eustace. Found as Eustasius on the tapestry. A popular medieval name, from the Greek eustakhês “rich in corn” – i.e. “blooming” and “fruitful.” A Count of Bolougne and companion of William.

Gyrd. Now usually called Gyrth, Gyrth was one of the brothers of Harold. He also died at Hastings. From the Old English gyrdan “to gird (with a sword).” Related to the Old Norse gjǫrð “girdle,” cognate with the Scandinavian girl’s name of Gerda.

Halley. Halley’s Comet. Not actually mentioned by name (it would have been difficult, since it has borne this name only since the seventeenth century), but a famous appearance nonetheless. A variant spelling of Hailey, i.e. “hay meadow,” etc.

Harold. The ill-fated last true English king, whose name is a combination of elements meaning “army” and “power”. Also occurs on the tapestry as Horold.

Lweine. How Leofwine, the name of another of Harold’s brother, appears on the tapestry — when he dies in the battle. A good solid Anglo-Saxon name meaning “dear friend.”

Odo. William’s half-brother, and bishop of Bayeux. He is thought to be responsible for commissioning the tapestry. From the Old German uod “wealth” and “riches.”

Rotbert. The form of Robert — “bright-fame” — which is found on the tapestry. William’s other half-brother, a soldier.

Stigant. A name of Viking origins. The Old Norse form was Stígandr, meaning “wanderer.” The name of an Archbishop of Canterbury of Anglo-Norse birth. He crowned Harold.

Turold. A proper Viking name, betraying the Frenchified Normans’ real roots. Its Old Norse form was þóraldr, combining the name of the God Thor with vald “power”. Turold was one of William’s spies.

Vital. From the Latin vitalis “of life,” “belonging to life,” and “vital.” A scout of William’s.

Wadard. A curious name. Wadard seems to have been a cleric and vassal of Odo’s at Bayeux. The second element is probably hardu “hardy,” but the first is uncertain. Possibly the Norse theonym Vadi, cognate with the English Wade, a name deriving from a Germanic root meaning “water.”

Wido. Better known to history as Guy, Count of Ponthieu, who supposedly captured Harold when he accidentally landed in his territory en route to Normandy. The Old German name Wido derives either witu ‘wood’ or wît ‘wide’.

William. The big (French) cheese himself, responsible for making William — “will-helmet” — one of the top three boys’ names in the English-speaking world of the last 1000 years. It is mildly entertaining to note that on the tapestry, he is not called “William” once — the forms found are Willem, Wilgelm and Willelm.

After the tapestry, we visited the war cemetry at Bayeux, where many British soldiers who died in the D-day landings are buried, and where the following inscription features on the memorial: NOS A GULIELMO VICTI VICTORIS PATRIAM LIBERAVIMUS “We who were conquered by William have freed the homeland of the Conqueror.”

All things turn full circle eventually. Always.

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In A Sharp Look at Rebecca, yesterday, I mentioned Rebecca Nurse, an elderly woman of seventy-one, who was one of those tried, convicted and executed for witchcraft at Salem. She was hung on this day, July 19, 1692. With her, also died Sarah Good, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth How and Sarah Wilds.

The Salem witch trials have been a controversial subject ever since they took place. Salem has become a bit of a witch theme park in the last thirty years or so, and all things witchcraft abound. There are three museums dedicated to Salem’s witchy past alone. There’s even a witch-themed tour.

Many modern real Witches live there today, but were any of those who were accused, tried and convicted of witchcraft in 1692 really witches — of any kind? Probably not. Most, if not all, were Christians (and pretty devout ones at that) caught up in a witch hysteria generated by other Christians.

Whatever the truth of what occurred at Salem, the events there have captured public imagination ever since. And one thing is certain — those who died and suffered at Salem, whatever their beliefs, were innocent victims, and the events which took place damning evidence of the dangers of religious fanaticism at its worse.

Those who were ensnared in the madness at Salem were ordinary people, extraordinary hard-working, living in a time when starvation and disease were everyday threats. The hardship of life in the 17th Century is difficult for most people in the West to grasp — you need to visit a village in a developing country to come close to experiencing the reality.

Their names were largely typical of the period: Abigail, Alice, Andrew, Ann, Anne, Bridget, Daniel, Dorcas, Dorothy, Dudley, Edward, Elizabeth, Eunice, Frances, Francis, George, Giles, Hannah, Hezekiah, James, John, Lydia, Margaret, Martha, Mary, Mercy, Nathan, Phillip, Rebecca, Roger, Samuel, Sarah, Stephen, Susannah, Thomas, Tituba, William, Wilmot.

Those that stand out as noteworthy for the late 17th Century are Dudley, Tituba and Wilmot. Dudley is an English surname, and in this period, the use of surnames as first names was still relatively unusual. It derives from Dudley in the West Midlands, from the Old English name Dudda + lēah ‘wood’, ‘woodland clearing’, ‘glade’, ‘pasture’ and ‘meadow’. The Dudley family were prominent in the 16th Century; John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was one of the men behind the throne of King Edward VI, and was instrumental in having Lady Jane Grey (his daughter-in-law) declared queen after Edward’s death. He got the chop a few months before she did.

If Wilmot had been a boy, it would have been an example of another surname in use — but Wilmot Redd was a woman. Wilmot is actually a medieval pet-form of William, used for girls since the Middle Ages, when William too was probably in use for girls (there are examples in Latin records of Williama and Williamina, which are indicative of this). It survived until at least the 19th Century — unlike poor Wilmot Redd, who was executed September 22.

As for Tituba, its origins are lost and unlikely to ever be found. No-one can even say with certainty where Tituba came from. All that is known is she was a slave and not Caucasian. She may have been a Native American — from North or South America — African, or mixed race. And although she was one of the first accused at Salem in 1692 — she actually survived!

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