Category: Cornish names
The British Prime Minister recently chose the Cornish name Endellion as the middle name for his new daughter. The baby was premature, and born while the family was on holiday in Cornwall, and Endellion was chosen because the family regularly holidayed at the little village of St Endellion, so strictly speaking the name belongs with the growing trend to use place names (such as Dakota, Savannah) as first names. However, it is also a traditional Cornish name.
But first a bit of background. Cornwall is a popular holiday place because of its unspoilt beauty. Its unspoilt beauty comes from the fact that its position at the extreme south west of England makes it isolated. This isolation protected it in the past, and led to the preservation of a uniquely Cornish culture.
1500 years ago, when the rest of England was being taken over by the Anglo-Saxons, Cornwall remained independent and retained its own language, descended from the language of the ancient British and closely related to Welsh, into the 18th century. This language is the source of many of the specially Cornish names, while the distinctive West-Country way of pronouncing English has been another source.
The first time I visited Cornwall was at the tender age of one. Sadly, my dad’s abiding memory of that holiday was a grouching baby grizzling all through his long-awaited sailing trip (something he has yet to fully forgive me for to this day). A few years later my parents bravely returned again, one more child in tow, and fortunately much fun and sandcastle-building ensued.
It wasn’t until several years later when I returned to the region as a fifteen year-old that I was truly able to appreciate the breath-taking beauty of the Cornish coast and countryside. In the intervening years since my last visit I had developed an avid, border-line obsessive, passion for names and their meanings. What struck me was that many houses were named instead of numbered, and these place names, along with those adorning road signs, quickly caught my attention both due to the foreign sound to English ears, and the similarity to my greatest name-love: Welsh names.