When you hear of people researching surnames, one image jumps to mind: The dull distant relative who inexplicably passes their days connecting long-forgotten fragments of the lives of still more distant and longer-forgotten relatives.
The new range of Happy Families card games involved us looking at surnames from a totally different perspective: The aim was to cherry pick the quirky, curious and amusing nuggets of trivia associated with particular surnames. In other words, the lighthearted stuff that you’d want to find in a game.
Although our Happy Families card games are now published (and available for you to buy of course), we’re hooked on surnames. So today we’re turning our attention to the British Government, more specifically the names of the new(ish) cabinet.
Warning: Some of the revelations that follow are going to stick in your mind and cannot be unthought.
Let’s start with Dr. Liam Fox, politician, Brexiteer and now “Secretary of State for International Trade”.
The surname Fox derives from the animal to the extent that this surname was originally given to people who were considered to be sly ‘like a fox’. Whilst not flattering, this may not be an entirely bad quality for a politician.
So far so good(ish) but hang on, what’s that first name again ? Liam ?
Liam of course comes from William. And when did the name William first become a popular name in the UK ? Answer: Immediately after we were overwhelmed by that nasty Norman nobleman, William the Conqueror.
So today, on this blog, we can exclusively reveal to you that one of the leading Brexiteers is in fact named after an all-conquering Frenchman. Quelle ironie !!
But hey! Let’s not stop there!
Another avid Brexiteer, David Davis was recently elevated to the inevitably antagonistic position of ‘Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’.
The surname Davis was originally given to people who were the sons of fathers called David. So David Davis is really “David, son of David” which though drearily repetitive, at least boasts a quality rarely found in politicians: consistency.
The name David has Hebrew origins and means ‘friend’ or ‘darling’. So the name 'David Davis' just means “Friend, son of friend”. It’s probably going to be worth conveying that to our European neighbours before the arch Eurosceptic David Davis kicks off his Brexit hostilities.
So to the top where it turns out that the second female British Prime Minister is (in true panto style) a bloke in disguise. At least in name:
You see the name May derives from the name Mayhew which is turn comes from Matthew. So with Pythonesque logic, we find our country is in fact led by a lady called Matthew.
Incidentally, the name Theresa has Greek origins and means ‘huntress’. Perhaps someone should have told Andrea Leadsom about that before she volunteered to be Matthew’s hapless prey in the Tory leadership race.
Veering off topic briefly, a little known and delightfully quirky piece of trivia about Amber Rudd is that she was credited as the “Aristocracy Co-Ordinator” for the classic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral”. But I digress….
Bearing a last name that at first sounds a little fishy, Amber Rudd [insert: a rudd is a freshwater fish] has a surname that has no piscatorial provenance.
As another quick aside, the origins of the surnames of her cabinet colleague Chris Grayling and the former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond are also unrelated to fish. The exception is Nicola Sturgeon, a socialist named after a cold-blooded luxury food supplier.
Let's get back to Amber Rudd. The name Amber is traced directly back to the fossilized tree resin of the same name while the surname Rudd was originally given to people of a ruddy complexion. Perhaps the name will become appropriate for the usually pale faced Ms. Rudd in the event of embarrassing gaffes.
Talk of fossilized Tories, comedy and embarrassing gaffes can only be leading us in one direction:
Despite Boris’s all-consuming ambition to become British Prime Minister, it’s worth remembering that he’s a US passport holder. So we’ll take the chance to look at this particular power-hungry philanderer’s name from an American perspective:
In America, a Johnson is a lot more than a name. Indeed it could be described as the stand out weapon in a philanderer’s armory. One might even think that being led by a Johnson is a fate more likely to befall Boris than the UK.
Could the connotations associated with this name possibly get worse? Of course they could! For the name Johnson was originally given to sons whose father was called John. So Johnson is “Son of John”. Zipping quickly back to the USA where once again, a John is a lot more than a name: In fact it’s a toilet. So, (as many remain voters have already concluded since the June 23rd vote), dear Boris is the son of a toilet.
On the upside, the name Boris has Russian origins and means ‘fighter’. Boris may need to summon that up going forwards…
I’ll briefly mention new cabinet members Greg Clark, Damian Green, Baroness Evans and Jeremy Wright for the self-indulgent reason that we have special edition Happy Families card games available for those (and other) surnames.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT
So there you have it: Through the prism of names you’ve now discovered that our newish cabinet is led by a lady called Matthew who presides over red-faced remainers, friendly eurosceptics named after Norman noblemen and a person of privy parentage.
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