Names, especially first names, have always fascinated me. No idea why, but probably it had something to do with the fact that I myself received a rather old-fashioned name. Netty is the call name of my maternal grandmother, who wrote the name as Nettie herself. My parents thought with a ‘y’ it would look a bit more modern if I remember well. I only got used to it much later, as it is nice to have a first name that can be pronounced by people all over the world. And no, in my case it is my official first name, not a nickname or abbreviation, in case you wonder. There are many more people in the world using Netty as such, than people who are actually have the name written in their passport.
Royals and nobles have always been very traditional when it comes to the names of their children. Often they name their children after grandparents, and if not after siblings, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends … and when you’re a Catholic, a Saint is also an option. Or you go back in the family tree and find a nice name there. But also there you see changes. Like commoners they start to give their children less traditional names that don’t run in the family. Or probably even name children after celebrities, like lots of people do nowadays. Think of Princess Estelle of Sweden, Prince Vincent of Denmark, Princess Athena of Denmark or Princess Ariane of the Netherlands, or the countesses Luana and Zaria of Orange-Nassau. And what about Zenouska, in the British royal family. And now there is Prince Liam of Nassau, the newborn son of Prince Félix and Princess Claire of Luxembourg. The name is an Irish abbreviation of William, and when you think of it that way Félix and Claire have been rather traditional, as the French version of that name, Guillaume, or the German version, Wilhelm, of course runs in the family. Still the name is rather unusual for a royal.
But let’s have a look back in history. Genealogists like me find the strangest names in royal and noble genealogies. Sometimes names just sound funny outside the country they are used in. For example the name Poppy is rather popular for British girls, where in Dutch the name would probably be associated with ‘little doll’ (popje). Among some royals Germanic names were popular from time to time. King Ludwig III of Bavaria and his wife Maria Theresia named some of their children Rupprecht, Adelgunde, Hildegarde, Notburga, Wiltrud, Helmtrud, Dietlinde and Gundelinde. Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg – stepson of Emperor Napoléon – and his wife Princess Auguste of Bavaria named one of their daughters Theodelinde. In the 20th century there was also Prince Rasso of Bavaria … Names that have been rather popular in British noble families are for example Marmaduke and Peregrine, but I can’t imagine these boys don’t have a nickname, as it is rather tiring pronouncing the full name every time you have to call your kid. I once came across a boy named Marmaduke, who had a little brother called Huckleberry (probably Mark Twain fans?). Lupus, or wolf, sound strong, but is also a disease. If I remember well it was a Spanish (or was it a Portuguese) Prince, who received the longest royal name ever … but at the moment I of course can’t find the royal right now. Lots of names were the same but in connection with another saint.
As a fellow-genealogist once pointed out, you could really feel sorry for the children of Rev. Ralph Tollemache-Tollemache, a descendant of the Earls of Dysart – born between 1872 and 1892. One thing for sure, he and his second wife were not short of imagination. The first kid must have felt very lucky. Carefully look at the first 15 initials of the eldest son “Lyonel The Second” (there was a son called Lyonel already from the first marriage).
- Dora Viola
- Mabel Ethel Helmingham Huntingtower Beatrice Blazonberrie Evangeline Vise de Lou de Orellana Plantagenet Saxon Toedmag
- Lyonesse Mathilda Dora Ida Agnes Ernestine Curson Paulet Wilbraham Joyce Eugenie Bentley Saxonia Dysart Plantagenet
- Lyulph Ydwallo Odin Nestor Egbert Lyonel Toedmag Hugh Erchenwyne Saxon Esa Cromwell Orma Neville Dysart Plantagenet
- Lyona Decima Veronica Esyth Undine Cyssa Hylda Rowena Viola Adele Thyra Ursula Ysabel Blanche Lelias Dysart Plantagenet
- Leo Quintus Tollemache-Tollemache de Orallana Plantagenet
- Lyonella Fredegunda Cuthberga Ethelswyth Ideth Ysabel Grace Monica de Orellana Plantagenet
- Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudati Filius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet
- Lyonetta Edith Regina Valentine Myra Polwarth Avelina Philippa Violantha de Orellana Plantagenet
- Lyonulph Cospatrick Bruce Berkeley Jermyn Tullibardine Petersham de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet
And what about the children of Carl Ferdinand Otto von der Osten gen. Sacken (1787-1850) and his wife Charlotte von der Howen (1806-1885)? The first name of each child is rather normal (apart from maybe Aluin), but some of the other names are rather odd.
- Anne Elisabeth Juliana Wilhelmine Benedicta Hertha (1834-1918)
- Ewald Ferdinand Ottomar Arthur Harald Kuno Serapion (1835-1910)
- Carl Hermann Christoph Adalrich Winfried Hatto Nemesius (1836- )
- Aluin Dedo Fridolin Olav Teutomer Theobul Witlof (1840-1905)
- Meta Blithilde Childemma Deotina Elfilde Herne Witta (1842-1918)
- Eduard Alboin Cobbo Dudo Frittiger Rando Talila (1843-1915)
- Carl Adelwar Dankmar Eguin Farolf Irmenich Ratto (1846-1915)
- Carl Abraham Ali Eginhard Hannibal Oliver Raphael Saladin Tancred (1849-1890)