Have you ever looked at your family tree and said, "Wow, what a name"? Let's hear some good ones.
My maternal side has a long tradition of naming firstborn males Robert Royal, or Rob Roy. I unfortunately cannot continue that tradition, as that would be unfair to name a kid Robert Royal Hoyle… that is the kind of name you get made fun of for.
I think somewhere in my family tree there’s a family who named all their daughters (I think there several of them?) after various kings. I don’t remember off-hand all the names but I think there was a Georgina and a Wilhelmina. Maybe not all that remarkable as individuals but I’m amused by the notion of several sisters with feminized royal names.
The more interesting story is of a different family where the father was really into nicknames. All the children got more or less unremarkable names (for the time) but they all also got nicknames, and that’s what everyone knew them as: Bud, Sis, Bunny, Duckie, Dolly, Baby.
As a name, Vernon-Cole is an odd one. Our family is from the Cole lineage and there is some speculation that our family lands at the feet of Coel Hen, the figure who may have spurred the Old King Cole rhyme of the early 1700’s. I have my doubts but it is fun to speculate. As a historical figure Coel Hen ruled from approx. 350 to 425 in areas of Scotland to York - but I believe these are only best guesses. The Cole family name truly gets interesting when Willis Cole grows up and flips the Cole Family on its ear. Willis Vernon-Cole becomes the catalyst that re-invents the Cole name and follows his own eccentric path that covers two continents. He was, as we all are, so much more than the moniker he labeled himself with. The exploration of our name, both historically and current, helps us confine and label the bag of biological goo we call our self - and that is where the fun is. What and who is a Cole? What and who are you?
…although I’ve always liked “Chowhitsoot” (from my late father’s line and the ancestor whose carved house pole is my profile pic) my most intriguing “family name” has to be my mother’s maiden name: Napier. Although there are many who have weighed in regarding a decidedly English interpretation of its origin as “naperer” or, “a person holding charge in a royal household” there is little evidence to support this usage/origin in Scotland. Rather, Scottish/Irish tradition states that the line is descended from the ancient Earls of Lennox. Legend states that a knight (possibly a younger son of the Earl) distinguished himself in battle in support of William the Lion. It is said that after the battle, the king singled him out; praising his valour above all others by stating that he had “nae peer” and granting him both land and title. This claim was substantiated in 1652 by Sir Archibald Napier of Merchiston (the first Lord Napier) in an affidavit to the College of Heralds. The clan’s first known historical reference occurs in a charter of Malcom some time before 1290, where the lands of Kilmahew and Dunbartonshire were granted to John de Napier, an honor which the family held for 18 consecutive generations (until 1820).
One of my great-great grandfathers was named Orno Strong, and it makes me want to learn more about him. Was he, in fact, strong?