What’s In A Name?

I find myself wondering at the moment, if people still actually think about their names and where they come from. Not their first names, their surnames.

Leading up to my wedding, I had some concerns about taking a new surname. A lot of people questioned why I didn’t just keep my maiden name, or double barrel it and so on and so forth if it was really bothering me.

All useful ideas, but you see, I wasn’t so much worried about the name I was taking, but more the name I was loosing. On the one hand, I didn’t want to get rid of it, but on the other, I was very excited to take my soon-be-husbands name.

Now, I don’t usually divulge personal details such as names when I write, but I’m about to!

For almost 25 years, my name had been… Mustarde. Other than my relatives, I had never met another one. I had never just happened upon another person with the same surname as me. We have actually speculated as to whether or not we are the only ones in the whole country, maybe even the world! This also adds to a slight panic that I have that one day the name will die out.

I had spent my life correcting the spelling and pronunciation of it, of rolling my eyes when people laughed at it, and trying to ignore the names I was called by other students at school.

Despite the above, and on top of the uniqueness of the name, I am also proud of it, and proud to have had it. I know people that don’t put a second thought into their names, because it is just that: a name. They forget that it’s where you came from. I love my family and I am very proud to be a part of it. I love that we are connected by our name.

I bet right about now, you’re wondering what my new name was going to be, if I were to choose to take it?

I would become Mrs Waggott. Another, almost equally unusual name. Up until 6 and a half years ago… a little more actually… I had never even heard of it!

So I would be going from one unusual and odd name, to another unusual and odd name. My worry had nothing to do with new name at all, or the family that it came from. In fact, I was very proud at the thought of taking their name, I was just very sad at the thought of loosing mine.

I was a Mustarde… I didn’t know how to be anything else.

Obviously I could’t double barrel the name… Mustarde-Waggott is a ridiculously long name! And I did want to take my husbands name, but I couldn’t get away from this feeling that I was loosing my identity.

Then slowly but surely I realized that I was being a bit ridiculous!

My family have raised me to be the person that I am, it has nothing it do with my name at all. People everywhere start out with different names and change them for lots of different reasons.

I have taken the name Waggott, proudly and happily, but that doesn’t mean I have left the name Mustarde behind, not at all. It will always be an important part of me, and our children – assuming we have any – will always know that part of them. When my sister married, she took her husbands name, and I took mine, and all that did was big our family bigger and stronger!

I did do a little research into what both names mean, and where they come from.

Mustarde –

One webiste says: Recorded in the spellings of Mustard, Mustarde, and occasionally Mustart, this is a surname which does actually mean what it says. It of Olde French pre 10th century origins, being introduced into England by the Norman-French Invaders of 1066. As first recorded in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Yorkshire in the year 1191, it is clearly a nickname surname for a hot, peppery, character, called in this case Adam Mustard. This is a description that also probably applied to William Mustard of Hereford in the Pipe Rolls of 1206. Nearly two centuries later the name is occupational although the French influence is still present, with John le Mustarder of Cambridge being recorded in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Cambridge in 1327, and Adam le Mustardman, in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in the same year. Curiously surnames deriving from nicknames seem to have ‘stuck’; and become hereditary as we know them in the 20th century, much earlier than occupational surnames.  However after the Elizabethan reign and the coming of the Puritans, a long period of gentification set in, which saw many early surnames disappear. Fortunately this colourful surname has remained with us, and it is to be hoped, will continue for many centuries.

There wasn’t much more I could find on the name Mustarde however, possibly because it is so unusual. On quite a few websites, it is only recognized as Mustard.

However on one website, I did discover that it is supposedly the 1,335,794th most common surname in the world. There are approximately 86 people that have it as a surname (I wonder how many of them I am related to!) and it is most prevalent in England, with it’s highest density in Scotland. There are possibly some in America and Australia too. This particular website – which was free, so might not be that reliable – lists a lot of Mustard’s in all over the place, especially in Durham, on the census records, however only 44 Mustardes which aren’t listed in Durham! That website then took me to a list of Mustardes in churches – where I discovered myself, my cousins, my sister, my father, my uncle, my Grandparents and several others!! Fascinating! It then took me to Newspaper mentions, although I couldn’t actually see any of them, and one of them included a murder in 1935, but I don’t think many of these articles are related directly to us!

Waggott –

I struggled even more to find out about the name Waggott! Which I found odd, because there seems to be slightly more of them.

Whilst I couldn’t find an origin or meaning of the name, the same website that gave me so many facts for the name Mustarde, came through for Waggott!

It is the 394,973rd most common name in the world. Its prevalent in England. although it’s found in a lot of countries, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore! On this sites census records, there are some 2249 records of Waggott, the majority in Northumberland and Durham! On the churches records, there were over 4000 results, and I could only find two names that I knew, before the site crashed… oops!

If only I had paid for my research, just think what I would have discovered! Anyway, I now proudly answer to the name Waggott, but the name Mustarde will forever remain with me!




Categories: Family, wedding

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I felt the same way when I took my husband’s last name last year. I had a similar realization too…after all, what’s in a name?


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