Monday, 2 September 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Name That ... You!

Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IDENTITY.

Above house entrance Barfüssergasse Solothurn

Seen above the entrance to a house in the old town of Solothurn - If you ever get lost, or cannot remember where you live, it is always a good idea to have a name on your house, or sign engraved in stone.

Now to something more important: of course I know the meaning of my name. My mother did not tell me, as she was not into such intellectual matters; she just picked it because her mother liked the name Patricia. I should have been a Maureen but at the last moment when the nurse asked in the maternity hospital, mum said Patricia and so Patricia it was. No, she did not break a bottle of milk over my head, like naming a ship, she just said in a loud clear voice, let her be named Patricia.

I am convinced it was because the name Patricia actually means noble. I was sure as a child that my mother had found me in a wicker basket, wrapped in golden cloth with a crown hanging on the handles of the basket which was placed at the front door: the rightful heir to the crown of England perhaps. If I had become a Maureen, which my mother actually wanted, I would have been great: Maureen the Great. I am still not sure whether this name would have suited me better, but at the time I had very little to contribute to the matter.

So there I was, a Patricia, or was I a Pat. It was easier to spell in any case. Of course my grandmother paternal side liked to refer to me as little Patsy, problem being that “little” was not exactly me. I was always the tallest, the one that stuck out in the crowd and as mum loved to dress me with a big bow in my hair in nice bright colours, I was even more the one in the middle. There was also a story circulating that I was found under a gooseberry bush, but that was probably to avoid telling me the truth about how it all began.

I have a second name – and there comes the link to royalty again. It is Ann, almost like Princess Anne of England. I was there first, a few years earlier, but my right to the throne was denied and so I remained a Patricia Ann growing up somewhere in the slums East End of London.

I also had a Surname, the one that dad brought along with him. I was a Relf. In my endeavours to discover the truth behind my nobility. I found this definition. It must be true as it is in Internet.
Relf Name Meaning
Southern English (of Norman origin): from the Old French personal name Riulf, composed of the Germanic elements ric ‘power’ + wulf ‘wolf’”

Note the reference to power (I have a loud voice). I am not sure about the wolf part, but perhaps I howl unknowingly on full moon nights, roam the forests searching for victims to tear into pieces with my long fangs (ok I am exaggerating again, but the film was good).In my ancestry I was a Norman, a conquerer of England, probably an offspring of one of the mistresses of William the Conquerer, so there we have it. The crown on my wicker basket slowly becomes reality.

Unfortunately I moved to another country where the name Patricia is not so known, not as my mother wrote it. For the past 46 years when filling in a form in Switzerland, I have had to add the remark “Patricia with a “c” and not a “z””. The name in the German speaking area of Switzerland is spelt Patrizia. Were I to live in the French speaking part, Patricia would have been OK: one of the blows of fate I have encountered in my life.

Now to my offspring, and as they are my offspring and not writing this noble blog, it will suffice to say that meanings did not really come into the question. The names were chosen because I and Mr. Swiss liked them and because Swiss grandmother and English grandmother could both pronounce them. I made one exception (excuse me son for mentioning this), my youngest has the middle name Jason. I discovered that the name on the paternal side of the family occurs over many generations. My great grandfather was a Jason and his father before him. Unfortunately my son then became an O.J.Gerber. No problem were it not for a certain notorious American film star bearing the same initials.

So there we are, my right to nobility, royalty, fame was never realised, but at least my name tells all.

Click here for more


  1. This can be an interesting area. I've looked into my first and surnames, using different databases, and come up with some interesting answers.

    First name: MITCHELL. The Kalabarian philosophy site states MITCHELL makes you dynamic, restless, independent, ready to accept challenges, and outspoken (all true!!). You enjoy change, travel, and new experiences (again all true!!). Though you have limitless enthusiasm for new ventures, you lose interest quickly once things become routine, as you dislike being forced to attend to detail and do monotonous work (mostly, but not all, true)

    Surname: RUSHTON. Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Rishton, Roston, Rushton and Ruston, this is an English locational surname. It originates from any of the places in Cheshire, Northamptonshire and Staffordshire called Rushton, or the village of Ruston in Yorkshire. All the place names are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and all share the same meaning and derivation which is the farm where rushes are grown. This is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "rysc", with "tun", meaning a fenced enclosure in a forest, or in modern parlance, a farm. "Rushes" were particularly important in medieval times. They were used not only as thatch, but also as the main ingredient of a "torch," the only means of light, and as the only used method of floor covering. The surname is well recorded from the 12th century, at the very beginning of surnames. Early examples taken from authentic charters include: John de Russheton, in the estates register of Crowland Abbey in Cambridgeshire in the year 1340, Jhon Ruston, who married Katherin Willsonn at West Heslerton, Yorkshire, on October 14th 1584, and Stephan Rushton who married Margerye Mosse, at St. Mary's church, Stockport, Cheshire, on December 2nd 1610. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Robert de Riston. This was dated 1203, when he was a witness at the Assize Court of Northumberland, during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216.

    Fascinating stuff!!

  2. It is. I used to belong to the Relf Society, so gathered quite a lot of information there. My dad always thought we were Germans, but nothing like it. We are a settled name in Kent/Sussex. There even used to be a Relf corner in the village of Sissinghurst, where my grandad even had relations. Amazing what you find when digging deep enough. Not to mention Keith Relf, the guitarrist of the Yardbirds who managed to electrocute himself with his guitar. He even had a Relf nose.