What’s in a Name?3 min read

I may have talked about this before… maybe.

I still giggle about it.

(yes, I giggle)

The curse of a writer is that they are able to weave coherent narratives out of gossamer connections. If successful, it’s a story. If not, it’s fodder for throwing the writer into an institution

Case in point.

My name is William Thomas Maxwell.

William comes from the name Wilhelm, which leads back to Will+Helm. That’s… odd. A helmet that protects the will? Isn’t that the same as saying a helmet that protects the head?

Oooohhhh… it’s a strong willed person with something that makes it hard to get it through their skull. It means the person is stupidly stubborn.

Heh. So it’s a pun from an older culture that loved puns.

“You seen that stubborn-child of mine?”

“Yeah. Old helmet-head is over there.”

Thomas means twins. Maybe two roads if you really stretch it (which I do because where two roads meet can be a crossroads and that’s where you summon spirits). There has to be a story in that. Does it mean the person is a twin? Or the product of… ahem… an interesting time with twins?

I have so many questions about that.

Then, there’s Maxwell. Here’s the official quote:

surname, later masc. proper name, attested from late 12c., from Maxwell, name of a town on the River Tweed on the Scottish borders (the name is probably “the well of Macc or Macca”).

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=maxwell

There’s no easily found term “Macc” in Gaelic. Or Latin. But there is the common word “Mac”, which is Scottish for son. And I don’t even remember why this lead down a rabbit hole to the following.

Once Upon a Time

My great-many-times-removed grandmother, in the spring of her youth, had a wonderful time with a Sidhe ‘lord’, who granted her, as part of his favor, ‘a wealth of sons’. “Macs Weal”. Did I mention they had a really good time?)

Part of the blessings of the Kindly Ones is to throw a person (even generations removed) into circumstances that might be beneficial. One of her sons ended up chummy with the Romans who called him ‘Maccus’ cause Romans don’t care that Mac means son.

They gave him a grant of land that had a water feature on it, that was known to be a source for salmon. Maccus told the story onward and some folks, who hated the Romans, started calling him “Mac’s Well” the well of sons, implying his grandmother was a slut (jerks!).

His land ended up getting handed over to some other noble at some point, but his legacy was established as Clan Maxwell emerged. Quite an amusing fallout, really.

Now, only about a tiny fraction of the stuff above is recorded, or even real. A portion of it comes out of my fevered brain. But I can’t shake the laughter when I consider myself being descended from Fine Fair Folk and gifted with the name ‘Stubborn (did we have a good time last night?) Slut’.

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