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What to do when your surname is horrible?!!

(55 Posts)
WatchingWaiting Thu 15-Apr-10 14:20:18

Ok, me and DH have a horrible surname. Its a well known travelling-Irish-Gypsy surname. In our area, its the sort of surname that immediately leads to raised eyebrows and judgement. (Just imagine having the surname 'Kray' if you lived in the East End in the 50's, and you can imagine my pain!! grin )

I can forsee some problems our child will have with school applications, applying for jobs in the future etc, so in order to minimise this, I want a very 'posh' sounding first name to counter-act our surname!

So, we are so far thinking of the following names as possibilities:

Cordelia / Tabitha / Felicity / Harriet

Sebastian / Oscar / Benedict / William.

Do they sound a bit too poncey, especially since we are a working class family?

I want it to be as clear as possible that we're not pikeys, but I don't want to sound snobbish and up-myself!! Advice or name suggestions greatly appreciated!

specialmagiclady Thu 15-Apr-10 15:20:46

I know what you mean - there's a family like that in my home town and I know that the teachers, doctors etc's hearts rather sank when they saw the name... (sorry, I know that's probably not what you hear)

To try and answer your question, is Hermione Boggins better than Jane Boggins? Or does it just sound like Mr & Mrs Boggins are a bit up themselves? Not sure if it's not the latter, really.

I like the George idea - also Thomas, William, Jane, Katy. These are classic british names which work equally well with Boggins or Fotherington-Smythe.

Also, as the parent of a, frankly, quite naughty boy with an unusual name, you need something you can scream across the park without feeling too self-conscious. If you're screaming Felicity Hermione Jocasta Boggins at the top of your lungs you will feel a bit self-conscious!

GladioliBuckets Thu 15-Apr-10 15:53:45

Would stay away from William in case he ends up Billy.

zapostrophe Thu 15-Apr-10 15:57:42

Message withdrawn

annh Thu 15-Apr-10 16:08:24

I am intrigued as to what this surname is, given that I am Irish and can't think of any surname that would immediately make me stereotype a family as travellers. Well, I can think of a few common traveller surnames but they are also widespread in the community at large. If you feel that people really compartmentalise you because of your surname, then I think giving your child a very "posh" sounding name will just make you appear as a desperate social-climber!

tjtheminx Fri 16-Apr-10 02:22:12

Annh I disagree, there are definitely a few traveller specific surnames in some towns.
( I have a few Limerick ones I am thinking of)

I do agree though that giving the kid a posh name is not going to make a difference.

Also DYING to know what the surname is... any hints watchingwaiting
Ah... g'wan!!

annh Fri 16-Apr-10 09:50:10

Theminx, can you give us a couple of examples? I am genuinely intrigued as to what these names are? Perhaps I'll be nodding my head sagely afterwards and thinking "oh of course" when I hear them.

5DollarShake Fri 16-Apr-10 10:15:01

I can understand why you're worried - although I obviously haven't got a clue of any well-known traveller surnames.

But - I really think you're maybe over-worrying about this, and I know that's easy for me to say! grin

I would give yourselves and your DC some credit - any pre-concenived ideas people may have (and yes, plenty of people will be bound to have them; it's human nature), will be completely over-ridden as soon as they get to know your child.

It's the same as any other 'unusual' name - people get flamed on here for choosing so-called chavvy names, but the fact is that a child comes to own their name; they become more than the name itself, and only the worst type of judgey snob will stick to their pre-conceived ideas about a person based on their name, as opposed to going by the person themselves.

I really think you're worrying about something which won't be a problem - and should just choose a name you both genuinely like and want.

pedrothellama Fri 16-Apr-10 10:17:28

I once lived in an area with a large semi permanent travelling community and there was one family name that struck terror into people's hearts.

I do actually understand what WatchingWaiting is saying, the children of this large family were equally feared from a very young age. I remember a fight that started in a wine bar because the owner asked three of these chaps to keep the noise down. It was horrific what they did to him and I steered clear of the family totally after that.

I don't want to promote stereotyping here and apologise for any offence in advance but I would really, really, really have to love the guy to have taken that name.

Complete social suicide.

maryz Fri 16-Apr-10 10:58:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annh Fri 16-Apr-10 11:04:05

Yes, Connors was a name which was in my mind but growing up in Ireland I knew a few families called Connors, none of whom were travellers, and stereotyping them as such never crossed my mind. However, I still think that if you believe your family name classifies you as such in peoples minds, then calling your daughter e.g. Cordelia Connors or Sebastian Connors is not the greatest idea!

pedrothellama Fri 16-Apr-10 12:25:53

Watching Waiting

I am from a working class family and my parents gave me what is considered a 'posh' name.

I have always been very proud of my name and it is always complimented on. I have never shared my name with another class member or work collegue but it is not so unusual to cause comment.

A good strong name can open many doors, the only thing I would suggest is choose a name that carries well into adulthood. I personally dislike grown women having 'little girl' names like Betsy.

If you like the name Ellie, then fine call her Ellie but on the birth certificate put Eleanor or Elizabeth or Eliza or Ellen etc so she can choose when she gets older.

There is little you can do if you can't change your surname - but you can give them a good strong first name to start them off. I love all the names you have chosen, hold your head high and make sure your kids are the ones with the whitest socks and best manners grin

TheRedQueen Fri 16-Apr-10 12:40:40

WatchingWaiting - could you perhaps add your maiden name as part of your child's surname to deflect some emphasis off the name you don't like?

WatchingWaiting Fri 16-Apr-10 13:15:28

Annh - I totally see where you're coming from saying re: Irish names & traveller names. And if I lived in Ireland, I'm sure my surname would not have anyone bat an eyelid. But in my town, its a name that has so many negative connotations - its a large extended family that everyone fear because of their violence and crime, and poor DH just happened to share the same surname.

Its never been an issue for me really - I loved DH enough to take the name unquestionably, and I knew I have tough enough skin to confront the stereotype, and deal with the initial preconceptions I might initally meet in doctors surgeries etc. But I suppose some motherly instinct has kicked in already - I can't bear the thought of people thinking badly about my future child before they have a chance to meet him/her. They say first impressions are everything, and I don't want my child to face any barriers in regards to jobs/school applications etc just because of their surname.

This topic has helped me think about the issue very clearly, and I don't think naming my child Sebastiam Wilhelm or Arabella Cecily is going to do anything other for my child than make them think they should be ashamed of their surname, and I don't want that. We're a loving family, and have every right to be proud of our surname.

So I think I'll stick with my original more simple choices. Thomas/Adam for a boy, and Marie/Lucy for a girl.

If my surname was 'Jones' I would have chosen those names in a heartbeat, and so I think its the right decision. I think!

Am v reluctant to give my surname away for fear of being recognised and sounding snobbish - but it's along the Connors/ Cash/ McCann/ McDonagh lines; surnames that would be perfectly normal in a happy community, or in Ireland, but not in a town that has been terrorised for generations by a family of that name.

Thanks for all the input!

thehillsarealive Fri 16-Apr-10 13:27:46

there was a couple of families in my home town that shared my mothers maiden name - but 'outsiders' soon realised that they were different families entirely and not related in the slightest.

The only thing shared was the name, surely in this day and age people arent that small minded, to judge a child because of a surname?

thesecondcoming Fri 16-Apr-10 14:22:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mathanxiety Fri 16-Apr-10 15:29:23

Why not look in the local phone book and see just how many other families there are that share your surname? You might be relieved to see you're not alone.

I love your original name choices.

FWIW, growing up in Ireland, there were plenty of notorious families in my area whose names were synonymous with trouble, and they were not Travellers.

KatiePul Fri 16-Apr-10 15:48:20

Really don't think you should use the word 'pikey' you wouldn't use the 'N' word would you?
don't think your surname will be the problem if you encourage your child to use derogatory terms such as that!

two2many Fri 16-Apr-10 16:11:59

Ward & Mcdonagh are also well known Irish traveller names , op i think you might be worrying a bit too much about this tbh

maryz Fri 16-Apr-10 17:31:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ozmetric Fri 16-Apr-10 17:43:30


CakeandRoses Mon 19-Apr-10 09:43:27

We had a similar family in the town where we used to live so I do understand the immediate negative impression a surname like that can have.

If I substitute that name with some of your first name choices e.g. Cordelia then I'm afraid the first name wouldn't counteract the impact of the surname at all.

If I'm being completely honest (and I'm sure this won't be popular): if the surname is viewed as negatively as you say it is then I would seriously considering altering the surname, for your DC's sake. I can only think how I would feel (as a child/teen)introducing myself with that kind of surname - I would hate it.

If you're thinking of choosing first names you're not even keen on so that you can try to make life easier for your DC then (and as I've said above, I don't think this would work anyway) then surely it would make sense to just change a few letters or the ending of your surname and then choose a first name for your DC that you LOVE.

mathanxiety Mon 19-Apr-10 15:02:48

Change your name to the Irish version?

Are they really that bad though? Can teachers, doctors, etc. really not tell the difference between you and the family that shares your name? What has your own experience been of making doctor or midwife appointments or introducing yourself? How about your DH?

laurawardX Thu 13-Dec-12 23:58:58

what's wrong with Irish names tho? I'm a ward and I'm proud

Sorry, I just don't understand your problem. Just change your whole family to your maiden name? Then you can Tom or Martin or whatever you like.

And I don't think the names you picked are posh at all.

shoobidoo Fri 14-Dec-12 10:30:20

This thread is over 2 years old!!

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