Name for a Laugh
As we all know, it is of vital importance that the name you are given by your parents is not only one that you are happy with but that will also ensure that you are not teased in the playground, mocked in the office, or ridiculed by your own family. Much hilarity ensued in the Archives Office a few months ago, when I was lent a book entitled ‘Potty, Fartwell and Knob’, a collection of “Extraordinary but True Names of British People” which includes a contribution from Beds & Luton Archives. The author, Russell Ash, had contacted us back in 2006 to ask whether we were aware of any humorous names that had existed in the historic county of Bedfordshire. Whilst there are a number of Bedfordshire surnames which might raise a smile (several Jellys, lots of Faireys, a plethora of Bottoms and hundreds of Giggles), there were quite a few where the parents were either careless of the consequences or had deliberately decided on a novelty name. There were also, of course, hundreds of names with rude and inappropriate connotations which will not be reproduced here, but we thought we’d share a few of the amusing yet sanitary ones with you.
I’m sure that the wonderfully named Charity Balls (baptised in 1812 in Pulloxhill) was always well attended, although she was not the only virtuous girl in the county – Virtue Keep (baptised 1868 in Cardington), Faith Hope Charity Billington (baptised 1858 in Haynes) and Honor Money (baptised 1870 in Ampthill) can all be found in our parish registers.
Two Annie Oakleys were baptised in the less than Wild-West areas of Clophill (1855) and Eversholt (1871), whilst two male babies baptised in Turvey in 1748 and 1753 were both stuck with the somewhat unmacho title of Fairy Lightfoot. Rhoda Head may have wanted to travel beyond her home village of Shillington (baptised 1874).
The parents of King George (baptised 1861 in Kempston) may have had delusions of grandeur, although he does not appear to be related to Prince George who was baptised in Eaton Bray in 1741. With more delusions of grandeur, or possibly lunacy, were John and Susan Fisher of Stotfold who named their son and daughter King Fisher and Queen Fisher in 1756 and 1760, although Queen may have had further ideas above her station as she seems to have married under the name Queen Ann Fisher.
Noah Goodbody may well have been a handsome man as his name suggests, but as he married in Bedford in 1687 he is probably not looking his best these days.
Several men obviously had parents who had run out of ideas as they were given the Christian name ‘Offspring’. The same goes for Young, in particular Young Godfrey (a dozen or so can be found baptised in the county) whilst Young Jeeves (baptised in 1749 in Henlow) and Young Boston Compton (baptised in 1855 in Potton) sound as if they came from the pen of P. G. Wodehouse (who of course disguised his own unusual Christian names of Pelham Grenville). At the other end of life’s spectrum, Old William Stanton was so named on his marriage certificate of 1627 at Southill.
I personally feel sorry for the entire Underling family of Stotfold, who may well have suffered from low self esteem, but we’ll never know!