What’s behind the names of some of Norwich’s children?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 January 2012
Archant Norfolk Copyright
As Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z announce the birth of their daughter Blue Ivy Carter (apparently named to signify producer Jay-Z’s Blueprint albums and Beyonce’s favourite number in Roman numerals), STACIA BRIGGS asks, what’s in a name?
With such an unusual name myself, when it came to naming my own children, I was keen to carry on the family tradition.
When I named my daughter Ruby Rose, in 1998, neither name was even placed on the top 100 girls’ names of the year: last year, Ruby was the sixth most popular name for a girl (I can’t pretend this doesn’t disappoint me a little bit…).
We’d considered only a handful of names but the closest favourite to Ruby, Clover, was turned down by my daughter’s father on the basis that she would forever be linked to a brand of margarine. I concede now that he may have had a point.
My son, Cole Joseph, was born in 2000. Having asked during both pregnancies whether the scans revealed the gender of my babies, I’d been told both times that I was expecting a girl.
Cole’s arrival after an emergency Caesarean section was, therefore, something of a surprise. Suddenly, India Rose wasn’t really an option unless we wanted to cause confusion in the playground.
The night when I went into labour with my son, I’d been in a private room watching one of those lengthy ‘100 best…’ programmes about love songs. When Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” played, I’d thought how apt it was considering the fact I was very, very pregnant.
It popped back into my head when Cole was born and that, plus the fact that Cole Hawlings is a character in one of my favourite childhood books, The Box of Delights, and there had been an incredibly cool boy called Cole at my sixth form, sealed the deal.
I am happy to report that Cole is not in the top 100 boys’ names chart.
My own name – deep breath – Eustacia Stella Ann Briggs – includes my grandmothers’ first names, Stella and Ann and Eustacia, a heroine from a Thomas Hardy novel which my Dad studied at Cambridge University.
I never use my full first name, associating it only with being told off when I was a child and doctor’s appointments. I am Stacia at all times, unless I’m signing an official document (or being chastised by my mother).
We asked two Norwich parents to tell us why they chose their children’s names.
Paul Saxton has five children, Tom, Louie, Isaac, Maggie and Alice.
“I think that I suggested all the names for my children and I was very aware that it was an important decision, because your name follows you forever,” he said.
“I was named after Paul McCartney – John Lennon was the favourite Beatle in my household, but my Dad’s brother was John, so Paul it was. I like it – it’s a name of its time, but it’s a nice name: short and simple.”
Tom, 21, Louie, 17 and Isaac, 11, are children from Paul’s previous relationship, while twins Maggie and Alice, two, are with partner Shannon Forbush.
“Tom spent most of his time at school being called Thomas, even though he is just Tom – we wanted something simple and short, but people always felt the need to lengthen it for some reason,” said Paul.
“Louie is named after the Kingsmen’s 1963 version of Louie Louie, which is my favourite single of all time and her middle name is Corrina, after the Bob Dylan song Corrina Corinna.
“She gets quite a lot of attention for her name and obviously people often spell it wrong or assume she’s Louise or Louis, but she’s always loved it.
“It’s quite an unusual name for a girl, but when my Dad was looking into our family tree, he actually found that I had a great, great aunt called Louie, rather bizarrely.”
Isaac’s name was chosen because Paul likes the simplicity of Jewish names and when twins Maggie and Alice were born, he and Shannon had a list of around 12 names to choose from.
“The girls were born on John Lennon’s birthday and because I’m a huge Beatles fan, had they been boys I’d have definitely pushed for one of them to be called John,” he said.
“When Maggie was born there were complications and we were told that she might not survive. We were suddenly aware that we might be providing a name for a gravestone.
“Alice was Shannon’s choice, and when we looked at the list, Maggie just stood out. I suppose we thought of Maggie Thatcher and that fighting spirit – whatever else you say about Thatcher, she was strong.
“My Dad had always loved the Scottish singer Maggie Bell, who was a real ballsy woman and there was Maggie May – it seemed to be a name with real strength.”
Thankfully, Maggie’s fighting spirit was as strong as her name. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she continues to surpass her doctors’ expectations.
“Names are important and as a parent I think you do have a level of responsibility to make sure they are names you’d want to live with,” said Paul.
Dani Cameron and husband Bob have two daughters, McKenzie, six and Bonnie-Belle, three:
With an unusual name herself – Dani’s name is actually Marie-Danielle Jacqueline Kim – Dani and Bob had always considered the option of choosing uncommon names for their children.
“When I was heavily pregnant with my first baby, I was watching Men and Motors on TV and one of the girls that stands next to the cars introduced herself as McKenzie and I thought: ‘that’s a lovely name’,” said Dani.
“We researched it – it’s Celtic and means ‘noble person’. It can be used for a girl or a boy and it’s more common in Canada where there’s the McKenzie River and it’s a popular name for girls.
“With Bonnie-Belle, we were told we were having a boy, so we’d thought about Bertie because with Bob being Scottish, it was tradition in his family for the firstborn son to be called Robert, but I’d dug my heels in and refused because I don’t like the name! As it was, Bertie wasn’t really an option for a baby girl which meant we didn’t have a break the family tradition! We chose Bonnie-Belle because Bonnie means beautiful in Scotland and I’m Mauritian-French so Belle means the same in French. The names really suit the girls – McKenzie is quite a serious little girl and Bonnie-Belle just is her name. We’re really glad we chose unusual names – they’re special names to us and people always remember them.”
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