Category: Family Names
When my sister was born, our relatives insisted she be named to honor a beloved, recently deceased family member. My mother hated the traditionally male name and refused to use it, igniting a bitter conflict that lasted years (until another child entered the family and was given the moniker). While I don’t think parents should give in to pressure from relatives when it comes to naming, there are certainly many parents who DO want to use the name of an adored family member or friend.
Weird Uncle Sebastian. Nice name, but not exactly the kind of guy we want our baby to emulate.
Grandma Hortense — sweet lady, yet that name….no.
It may be a name that’s important in your family but that you just can’t bear to foist on a newborn baby. Or maybe it’s a name you like of a relative you don’t. But some family names simply don’t make the list as baby names.
What name from your family are you NOT going to pass down to a child?
I love a family name.
It doesn’t matter if the family is the ruling house of a sovereign nation or the neighbors down the street. If you would like to tell me about the great names on your tree, I’m all ears.
So when my aunt mentioned that she had inherited boxes of old family photos from her mother, my grandmother, I immediately volunteered to sort through them and upload information to a genealogy website as we worked.
Aided by wine and technology, we delved into three huge bins.
It was thrilling to discover pictures of my ancestors – great-uncles and great-grandparents as children, other photos from so far in the past that we determine exactly who was in the picture.
But the biggest thrill for me was discovering so many great names. I’d always thought that there wasn’t much excitement, name-wise, on my dad’s family tree.
I was so wrong.
But no. After a long day of working on Nameberry, what do I do for relaxation but turn to the hallowed pages of The London Telegraph, where I peruse the birth announcements in search of….more baby names.
This time, what caught my eye were all the three-named babies. Maybe the oh-so-British three-name arrangement struck me because of the young prince George Alexander Louis, whose own three names are a departure from the usual royal four. Was that Will and Kate‘s way of signaling that they were just like us…or at least like other young upper class British parents?
A few things we noticed about the three names of the babies noted here:
– More surnames such as Kynaston and Constable in the middle which are not mothers’ maiden names but may well be family names
In case you’re interested in finding three great names for your own baby, you might find some inspiration in these wonderful recent British choices.
A name is not a small thing. I didn’t realize its full weight until I read Helen Keller‘s account of her genesis in the world of language and identity. In Keller‘s blind, deaf, pre-linguistic experience, there was only sensation. Keller tells how she was given a doll, and how her teacher attempted to tell her what doll meant. “I became impatient at her repeated attempts and, seizing the new doll, I dashed it upon the floor,” says Keller. It was later that same day that Keller discovered language in the experience famously captured in The Miracle Worker.
“Somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me,” recounts Keller. “I knew then that ‘w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. On entering the door I remembered the doll I had broken. I felt my way to the hearth and picked up the pieces. I tried vainly to put them together. Then my eyes filled with tears; for I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”
It was only once the set of sensations embodied by “doll” had a name that Keller experienced guilt. To dash the doll to pieces wasn’t merely changing the experiences: It was destroying its very doll-ness. To understand that identity could be more than mere sensation was the beginning of an entirely new world for her. “When I learned the meaning of ‘I’ and ‘me’ and found that I was something, I began to think,” said Keller. “Then consciousness first existed for me.” It is this process of naming and defining that creates the world of the conscious mind.
For years I worked to consciously create an identity for myself as Rob D Young. I created heavy self-perceptions, definitions, a brand of self. I established a reputation. I decided who “Rob D Young” is.
Then about six months ago I started seriously considering changing my name to Robert Blair in honor of my grandfather. Two years ago my grandfather started bleeding internally for no reason in particular. Not long thereafter he had what he dubbed “a bit of a problem with gravity.” I don’t know how people handle this process; I don’t know how to wait for the death of someone I love. There are so many ceremonies and processes and support systems for the passing of a loved one, but the gradual waning beforehand aches fiercely and we are given little else besides the ticking clock. We remind ourselves to remain grateful for whatever time he has left, and we try not to feel guilty for wanting him to stay around in a breaking body for even longer.