Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane

by Kara Cerise

If you're like me you look at some of today's baby names in amazement. For instance: Pilot Inspektor, Audio Science, Moxie Crimefighter, Blue Angel, Sage Moonblood, and Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa.

Singer Frank Zappa and his wife gave three of their children creative names: Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his wife bestowed sweet names upon their children: Buddy Bear, Poppy Honey, Daisy Bunny, and Blossom Rainbow. (Do you think the Olivers watch Sesame Street?)

Unusual baby names are a contemporary trend, right? Wrong! Apparently people in past centuries liked unique names too. Researchers in Britain have compiled more than 1,000 unusual names from birth, death, marriage and census records going back to the 16th century.  

I’m guessing that these kids born before the 20th century were teased because of their names:
  • Boadicea Basher
  • Philadelphia Bunnyface
  • Leicester Railway Cope (He was born in a train carriage at Leicester Railway Station)
  • Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane (I picture her as the historical counterpart to the little girl in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who sits by herself on the school bus holding melted gummy bears.)

These children in the 1800s may have had inferiority complexes due to their first names:
  • Friendless Baxter
  • One Too Many Gouldstone
  • That's It Who'd Have Thought It Restell
  • Offspring Gurney

Arthur and Sarah Pepper had a baby girl in 1882 and gave her a name for every letter in the alphabet:

Ann Bertha Cecilia Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Iug Jane Kate Louisa Maude Nora Ophelia Quince Rebecca Starkey Teresa Ulysis Venus Winifred Xenophen Yetty Zeus. Her last name, Pepper, accounted for the 26th letter of the alphabet.

Can you imagine a teacher taking attendance using the girl’s full name?

Today, some parents try to be clever with their kids’ names. My friend’s niece has the last name of Kane. Her parents named her Candace. Yep, Candy Kane. Actor Rob Morrow and his wife named their daughter Tu—Tu Morrow. Then there's Filet Minyon, Dyl Pickle, and Ben Dover.

However, parents in earlier centuries had a sense of humor joining first and last names:
  • Mineral Waters
  • Zebra Lynes
  • Thomas and Alice Day named their son Time Of—Time Of Day.
  • Windsor Castle (Her mother’s maiden name was King.)

We've all snickered over marriage announcements where contemporary couples have interesting last name combinations:
  • Partee-Moore
  • McDonald-Berger
  • Looney-Ward
  • Hardy-Harr
  • Jaeger-Meister

Do you think people chuckled when these duos married?
  • Nicholas Bone and Priscilla Skin in 1636
  • Charles Swine joined Jane Ham in 1711
  • John Mutton and Ann Veale in 1791
  • Richard Dinner with Mary Cook in 1802

We may be separated by centuries, but we're not that different after all.

Have you heard any unusual names?
Do you give your characters creative names?


Jim Jackson said...

When I was a young actuarial student dealing with thousands and thousands of names as part of the pension data I had to scrub, we kept a list of interesting names. Just about every rank in the army and navy was represented as someone’s first name. Now I get General and Admiral as aspirational first names – but to name your son Corporal?

The list is long gone, but it did keep us entertained as part of our drudgery.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

All these parents need to practice birth control. It's clearly all about them and not their child. Someone should give each of these children the procedures for changing their names and include maps of where to go to process the change. I would suggest they change their last names as well. Who needs to be associated with self-involved creeps!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Names are fun and easy...until I check the alphabetical character list to ensure every character's name starts with a different letter. I was told to make last names more characteristic of ethnic diversity, so I comb an old phone book and the obits in the paper.

Warren Bull said...

Names can reflect the dysfunction of the name giver. I knew a family that named their pets, "What's it to you" and "Same as yours." Whenever anyone asked the names of the pets conflict was sure to erupt.

Kait said...

Oh my, how funny. I always feel a bit sorry for kids stuck with 'interesting' monikers, but it has been going on forever. When I was growing up we had friends with the last name of Bright. The father's nickname was Notso, and his brother was Ohso. I mean, really! I went to school with a girl named Sunshine. Felt sorry for a boy with the name of Lynn and one with the name of Marion ("o" for a son, "a" for a daughter - remember that). It's rather a relief to know this nutty naming thing has a solid history.

Kara Cerise said...

Jim, I wonder why parents would give their child an anti-aspirational first name. Maybe to discourage him from joining the military? But I think it's a good first name for a quirky character who constantly feels the need to prove himself.

E.B., I bet some of these kids change their names. They might be a memorable names for future actors or reality stars, but can you imagine a judge or police officer named Buddy Bear?

Margaret, you make good points about naming characters. I need to make sure that my characters have ethnically diverse last names. Thank you!

Warren, I don't even know what to say about people who name their dogs to cause conflict. I suppose it's a reflection of the family's unique sense of humor?

Kara Cerise said...

Kait, my mouth dropped open when I read Notso and Ohso Bright. Wow! I was surprised to find out that parents in past centuries gave their kids unusual names. That old saying is true--history repeats itself.

Shari Randall said...

Actually, I was saddened to read that this sort of thing has been going on forever. These poor kids!
I was signing kids up for a library program when a young man told me his name. I froze.
"Could you spell that, please?" I said.
"D E M O N."
He pronounced his name De MON, with emphasis on the last syllable, and he assured me it was spelled as one name. Yikes! Poor kid!

Kara Cerise said...

Shari, you must have been shocked when the boy spelled out demon. I'm curious what his parents were thinking. I think that kind of name can place a heavy burden on a child.

Grace Topping said...

Some parents don't think long-term. I remember years ago reading a front page article in the "American Banker" newspaper about the appointment of a woman named Bambi-Jo as vice president of a bank. Her name might have been cute when she was young (about the time the movie came out), but it probably didn't instill confidence in the people who would be going to that bank. So, parents, envision a newspaper headline with your child's name on it. Would you be proud of that name as it appears in the press?

Kara Cerise said...

You're right, Grace! And what if Bambi-Jo wanted to run for president of the U.S.? The name doesn't instill confidence at all.

I knew a bank vice president who was named Gidget after a character in the 1959 movie. Like her namesake, she lived in a beach community and liked to surf. When we walked around town people in cars would honk, wave and yell, "Hi, Gidget. Going surfing today?" I felt like I was in an old movie.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting and funny blog, Kara. As a teacher I came across some names that made me wonder. It was even worse when I retired and student taught in several schools. In my class I had a girl named Brandy Sleaze. Now you'd think with a last name like that, they wouldn't have named their daughter Brandy. Of course, in 3rd grade no one commented on it, but I'm sure as she grew older they did. I also had a boy named Gabrielle Hajde - pronounced as Hade. I wondered if they gave him the angel's name to soften the last name. He wasn't one of my nicer kids. In fact, the opposite. I also had an Ivy Green, but I liked that name.I had both of her brothers, but didn't have names that went with the color green. Of course, everyone has heard of the woman named Ima Hogg, too.

Kara Cerise said...

You've had some students with interesting names, Gloria. Ivy is very pretty. But poor Brandy! Trying to be fair, it must be a difficult task for parents to choose the perfect first name for their child. One that fits with the last name, isn't embarrassing and that the child won't outgrow. However,some parents enjoy puns. (I feel for Ima.) I remember a professor in California with the last name Stake (Steak?) and his first name was Charles. Chuck Steak.