I’m fascinated by names, their meanings and the reasons they are given. One of the most difficult things as a parent is to choose a name for a child; however lovely it is there is no guarantee the daughter or son won’t end up with a completely different nick-name, or be teased for some unimagined at the time of naming reason.
There was an article I was reading the other day, about strange names for babies, not names from the present but the things some children were called in the nineteenth century. The title of the article was The Top Ten Ridiculous Baby Names from the 1800’s. I thought it was rather mean to say the chosen names were ridiculous, and I wondered if there were reasons behind the names. These days celebrities and well-known people can set trends by their choice of names, names which sound ‘ridiculous’ when you first hear them but a few years later and a few thousand more children with the same name and it hardly passes comment.
When I looked at some of the stories behind the names there were some tragic and sad things I discovered. A little child called ‘Friendless’ who the article mocks, ‘though whether he was a popular lad isn’t recorded’ actually died before he was a year old. yes it was an unusual name but surely it could have been commented on without being unpleasant? Another child – with no record of whether a boy or a girl, died shortly after birth… the name was Zebra Lynes… again unusual, curious, odd, but don’t make fun.
Brooklyn Beckham was named after the area of New York, so the parents of young Leicester weren’t doing anything different from what is often done today… the fact that they added ‘railway’ as a middle name because he was born on a train in Leicester Station, is only going one step further.
I can’t help but wonder if some of the clerks who recorded these names have some responsibility for what was written… an over-excirted father might get carried away and think of a name which a few days later might not seem such a good idea after all!
Here is the list, and I’ve included the comments from the article and then added what I found out:
1. Friendless Baxter was born in 1871 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, though whether he was a popular lad isn’t recorded
… sadly the reality is that Friendless died when he was less than a year old.
2. Faith Hope Charity Brown was born in 1892 in Gillingham, Kent. A good kid, we hope!
Faith married in 1911 at the age of nineteen
3. Leicester Railway Cope was born in a train carriage at Leicester Railway Station in 1863.
Leicester’s parents John and Ann seem to have had an unusual spurt of inspiration when he was born, even though it was a dramatic birth – his brothers and sisters were John, Ann, Eliza and Joseph. Leicester was a model engine maker and became a machine pattern maker, then a loco engineer, and finally a foreman pattern maker. His first wife Emma died, but he moved to Manchester and he and his second wife had two children, Edith and Leicester junior.
4. Time Of Day was born in Hoo, Kent, in 1899. Well, if your surname’s Day it makes sense, no?
Time was born in Hoo in Kent in 1899, he married Jennie in 1924, and he died at the age of 76; he seems to have kept his given name.
5. One Too Many Gouldstone was born in Walthamstow, London, in 1870. Either the last child in a very big family, or conceived after a night down the pub?
Was he or she, (who must have later changed their name or had it changed), the sixth child of Joseph and Mary Ann, or the seventh child of Harriet and Frederick Gouldstone? … I couldn’t find any further trace of young Gouldstone, but I did come across a man named Essex Gouldstone, who had nine children with his wife Clara. While researching Essex Gouldstone, who was born in Steeple Bumpstead, I found that during the census of 1871 he was in a small pox hospital. If anyone was going to name their child in a joking fashion I feel it might be Essex… he had five children with names beginning with E, plus an Oscar which is quite unusual, plus a Lewin Albert and an Edwin Lewin. However Essex and Clara didn’t marry until after One Too many was born…although essex was twenty when the unusually named child arrived, so I guess it is possible. There may be a story here! Essex himself died in 1919 aged sixty-nine.
While researching the Gouldstones, I came across someone with a truly unusual names, Mercy Balls, born in 1860,
6. Windsor Castle was born in Nottingham in 1876. Her father was a bricklayer and had no relation to royalty.
Windsor appears in the 1881 census aged 5, with her sisters Betsy 13 and Maliah (as spelled on the census) 10, who with their father William were lodging with Mr and Mrs Ward. She appears ten years later, now an errand girl, still with her sister Mahala who’s working as a cotton doubler (something to do with spinning I would guess) and they are lodging with the Asher family, Abraham and Eliza and their eight children – what a squash that must have been! Now here is the intriguing part; in 1911 another Windsor Castle appears on a census, she is also a doubler, but her parents are Thomas and Harriet, and she has four brothers and sisters. Both these girls and their families were born in Nottingham, and in 1932 there was a third, but this time male, Windsor Castle, born in the same area. (There were also three other male Castles named Windsor as a second name, born in 1841,1899 and 2002, none in Nottinghamshire)
Windsor herself married twice, Ernest Morley and then Thomas Wardle
By going sideways, and following Mahala’s details, I find that the family’s early story is very different. In 1871, William Castle is living with his wife Ann and their six children including Mahala and Betsy (Bessy on this census) William’s wife must have died, and he and his daughters go into lodgings.
One of Windsor’s brothers is Thomas, and I have no doubt that he is the Thomas Castle who named his own daughter Windsor after his sister who was born in 1876. I think Mahala married in 1897 and had her own children, and continued to live in the Nottingham area until she died in the 1950’s.
7. Zebra Lynes was born in Southampton in 1875.
Sadly little Zebra Lynes died shortly after he or she was born; the gender of this little child is ‘unknown’…
8. Ann Bertha Cecilia Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Iug Jane Kate Louisa Maud Nora Orphelia Quince Rebecca Starkey Teresa Ulysis Venus Winifred Xenophen Yetty Zeus Pepper was born in 1882 in West Derby, Lancs, now Liverpool. (The first letters spell out the alphabet – apart from Pepper, which was her real surname).
The record for Ann’s birth is actually ANN BERTHA C. D. E.F. G. H. I. J. K. L. M. N. O. Q. R. S. . U. V. W. X. Y. Z. Pepper and I have not been able to find out any more about her… I am guessing she abandoned her long list of names as soon as she was able! I wonder if she called herself something other than Ann,
9. That’s It Who’d Have Thought It Restell was born in Strood, Kent, in 1886.
I cannot find a single record referring to a Restell who was named this, even though if you Google the name there are plenty of articles about it. However, his parents were Louisa née Evans, and Robert William Restell, and sadly they lost two baby boys before a son was born in 1886, so it might be understandable that he was given such a strange name if he was a strong and healthy infant. I think he may have changed his name to Joseph… but that is only a guess on my part.
10. Mineral Waters was born in 1892 in Rochford, Essex. No relation to legendary blues singer Muddy!
She appears in the 1901 census and the only other record I can find for her is of her death at the age of twenty-three. She had a sister called Virginia waters (which is a place in Surrey in Windsor park) and another sister called Rose Waters (a flavouring and perfume)
Here is the article I read: