A pretty unusual name

We were getting a replacement freezer yesterday, and the lady in the shop was very helpful and while we were waiting for all the paperwork I couldn’t help but notice her name, Avonia. I was interested as I had never come across th name before; we live near the River Avon, near Avonmouth, our county was misnamed Avon for several years before protest brought it back to Somerset, and there is the cosmetics company called Avon.

Avonia told me that it was a family name from Appledore in Devon, her aunt was called it, and so was her great-grandmother’s best friend. Being interested in names I researched it when I got home; there is a place called Avonia in Pennsylvania, there is a family of  caudiciform plants called Avonia, in Biblical Greek it means lawlessness and there was a nineteenth century actress called Avonia Jones, born in 1839 and sadly died in 1867 of TB.

Avonia Jones had a strange and rather sad life; her parents were both actors, her father was a most eccentric man who wrote also wrote plays and practised law. After touring America with her mother, in Romeo and Juliet; while on tour in Australia she met  Gustavus Vaughan Brooke, He was an Irish actor/manager and over twenty years older than Avonia, but he was the man she eventually married four years later in Liverpool. In 18666 he sailed back to Australia but the ship he was on, the SS London, sank in the Bay of Biscay and 244 people were lost, including Gustavus. A bottle was found washed up on Brighton beach from the ship, with a message inside for Avonia from her husband. The following year, Avonia too died, childless.

I hope the lady I met has a happier and safer live than Avonia Jones! Avonia Jones had no children herself, but she had a niece named after her, Avonia Bonney

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