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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Names for a laugh...
Jemima Laing
BBC news, Cornwall

The list contains over 1,000 names from censuses, and births, deaths and marriage records in Cornwall

Much as I like the name Jemima it has left me open to a lifetime of mickey-taking and feeble jibes about Playschool and Beatrix Potter.

But one can only imagine the kind of ribbing the likes of Philadelphia Bunnyface, Charity Chilly and Faithful Cock had to endure.

New research released by the Cornwall Record Office (CRO) shows that centuries before celebrity couples began to indulge in outrageous nomenclature the Cornish were already raising plenty of eyebrows at the baptismal font.

This week, the Truro office released a list of over 1,000 unusual names found in censuses and births, deaths and marriage records in Cornwall dating back as far as the 16th Century.

The research is the brainchild of Renee Jackaman and is the culmination of six years' work by her and her colleagues.

Name and shamed
Boadicea Basher
Bevis Bennie
Susan Booze
Elizabeth Disco
Humfridus Hawkeye
Edward Evil
Kitty Jealous
Talent Ferret
Levi Jeans
Clobery Silly

It began when she first started work as an archive assistant at the CRO in 1999.

"I just started noting down the more unusual names while doing other genealogical research and then got other people I worked with to do it too.

"As my name is rather silly I decided to put them all together in one list.

"Since it started many people have contributed...including customers, family historians, volunteers and other members of staff," she said.

"My all time favourites are Abraham Thunderwolff and Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane."

The list also has a more serious purpose, to highlight the wealth of information contained in the archives - its release timed to coincide with Archive Awareness week.

"But it is also just very funny," said Ms Jackaman.

And there is plenty of amusement to be had, no doubt ribs were tickled when Nicholas Bone married Priscilla Skin in 1636 and Richard Dinner pledged his troth to Mary Cook in 1802.

Perhaps the scriptwriters of Emmerdale plundered the archives for inspiration as the list shows a Charity Dingle was baptised in South Petherwin in 1702.

Extract from Cornwall Record Office of Levi Jeans
Levi Jeans' name appears in the marriage records

The records also reveal that the Gurneys of Endellion were clearly stumped for a name when they plumped to call their child Offspring in 1741 and the Guy family from Helston showed roughly the same level of inventiveness in the 1800s when they opted to name their son... Guy.

In the spirit of fun Ms Jackaman has sent the list to JK Rowling's publishers.

"I thought it might provide some inspiration for character names in future Harry Potter books."

Now she has moved to the Devon Record Office and hopes to start work on a similar list for Cornwall's neighbouring county.

So perhaps if Britney Spears deems London Preston too pedestrian a choice for her new arrival she could do worse than purchase a copy of the list from the CRO for 1 or access it online for some ideas.

Foscurinus Federline definitely has a certain ring to it.....

Ever been to Preston, Britney?
16 Sep 05 |  Magazine
20 of your tricky names
26 Aug 05 |  Magazine

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