Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:04 AM

While cleaning up my genealogy files last night, I was struck by a number of...interesting names on my family tree. When I write, naming my characters takes a lot of time and thought. I want the names to be distinctive, so that the reader can keep everyone clear in his/her head, but I don't want them to be so distracting that they pull the reader out of the story. I'd have to be writing something in the John Irving/Richard Brautigan vein in order to pull off anything close to the names of some of my august forbears. I've put some of the weirdest into loose categories below for your perusal.

From the British Isles (yes, they certainly do sound like spammers' pseudonyms):
Gotham Howe
Gillachomhghaill O'Toole
Onesiphorus Tileston
Mabilia Talesmache
Benedicta Shelving
Gwair ap Pill
Rollo Bigod
Theopharcia Baliol
John MacHell

Scandinavia (Tolkien didn't work in a vacuum):
Frosti Karasson
Eyfuru Svaflamasdatter
Gandalf Alfgeirsson
Frodi Frodasson

The American Frontier:
Catherine Vandeventer-Turnipseed
Josnorum Scoenonti Running Deer
Polly Pickle
Thomasine Lumpkin

Elsewhere in Europe:
Burkhard von Schweinfurt
Gundreda Monasteriis
Aubrey de Mello
Adam Moomaw
Hienrich von Krickenbeck

Finally, Those Wacky Puritans:
Constantia Coffin
Thankful Sprout
Deliverance Nutting
Wealthy Blood
Including my personal favorite:
Preserved Fish
Poor Preserved. I presume that his name was shorthand for "Preserved by the hand of the Lord." Maybe Mrs. Fish almost died in childbed, or something like that. Her maiden name was Grizzel Strange, by the way, so you'd think that she'd be sensitive on the naming issue. Or perhaps her name and that of her son's didn't sound odd at all to 17th-century ears.

Oh, well; I guess when it comes right down to it, it's a heck of a lot easier researching folks like Preserved than yet another John Carter or Mary White. And it certainly keeps me smiling.
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On 11/6/07 , Jenna said...

Well, I think Polly Pickle should be a character someday. I also love the Puritan names. This is a really rich collection of all the people who were made fun of in kindergarten!

On 11/6/07 , Anonymous said...

There's another reason why I'm glad I'm not a Puritan! Can you imagine the Ferris Bueller role call with the name "Catherine Vandeventer-Turnipseed?"

On 11/6/07 , Amanda1 said...

My favorites:
Polly Pickle
Constantia Coffin
Thankful Sprout

On 11/6/07 , Annette Lyon said...

Oh heavens! Poor Mrs. Fish! Thanks for the laugh!

On 11/6/07 , Christie said...

Wow. These are awesome...and they put into persepective the annoyance I've gone through answering the question - 'now how do you spell Christie?'- every time anyone has written my name. Gillachomhghaill O'Toole , for example, had something to complain about! :)

On 11/6/07 , Radioactive Jam said...

Okay so "Catherine Vandeventer-Turnipseed" - hyphenated by marriage? Because "the Vandeventers" rolls off the tongue of my mind like "the Rockefellers" but I gotta say "Turnipseed" - not so much.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

On 12/6/07 , kristi noser said...

I will never complain about my name again.

On 13/6/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

RaJ--the tongue of your mind: Nervous chuckle. ;)

But yes: good guess. Her name was hyphenated by marriage.

Kristi--thanks for coming by! I hope you'll drop in again sometime soon.