Family Oddities – What’s in a name?

With people these days calling their children names such as Excel, Jaggar, Hippo and Popeye (I am not making these up), this story sounds quite silly, but here we go:

On 2 February, 1914, my great-great-grandma gave birth to a baby girl, which is lucky for me, as that baby became my great-grandma. They lived in Jindabyne in southern New South Wales ( the town in the picture).

Some days later, I suppose, my great-great-grandpa (Mr. T), went to register the birth of his daughter. Now, I imagine he was pretty happy, as he already had three healthy little sons, so a daughter was nice for his wife. Mr T arrived at the registry office, and I like to imagine that the conversation went something like this*:

“What ho, my good man.” Said the Registry Chap.

“What ho, what ho!”  Said Mr T, beaming.

“How can I assist today, sir?” The RC asked. “I’m guessing either the birth of a child, or death of a much-despised relation.”

“It’s a child!” Said Mr. T. “A healthy baby girl.”

“Well congratulations to you, my good man.” Said the RC, fumbling around looking for a birth registration form. “A little girl you say.”

“Right you are!”

“Right ho.” The RC ticked the ‘female’ box. “And what have you decided to name this little bundle of joy?”

“Mona Beatrice Monica.” Smiled Mr T.

The RC inhaled sharply. He chewed on the end of his pen. “Sorry, old chap, but I can’t do that.”

“Why ever not?” Mr T asked, feeling rather put out.

“Well, it’s not a real name, you see.”

“Of course it’s a real name!”

“I’m afraid not.” Said the RC, quite apologetic.

“I can call my daughter whatever I jolly well please!” Said Mr T, feeling quite put-out.

“I’m afraid not, sir. ‘Mona’ is not a real name.”

Mr T exclaimed a few rude words, mostly on the subject of what he thought about ‘real’ names, and on the character of the RC, and the buffoons and fatheads who decide what a chap can call his children.

The poor RC was now feeling rather bad. “What if you switch the names around? I can put Mona as a middle name…” The RC suggested.

“Fine.” Mr T said. Besides, he’d run out of creative expressions. “Beatrice Monica Mona it is.”

“Very good, sir.” Said the RC.

So, officially, my great-grandma was Beatrice Monica Mona, but she was always called Mona, her entire life. When you see some of the names people come up with for their children these days, it makes you wonder why the registry office doesn’t interfere any more.

*I don’t suppose Mr T and the RC sounded like PG Wodehouse characters, but I find it easy to write them as such.




Family Oddities – Great-Grandpa Harry

We all have ancestors with various eccentricities. In 1950, my great-grandpa received the title of “Tea Drinking Champion of Australia”, drinking 90 cups of tea a day.

Almost every regional newspaper in the country seems to have run the story. My three favourite articles are this one from the Southern Argus, in South Australia, this one, which has a great picture of my great-grandparents and lovely comments by my great-grandma, from  The Mail, also in South Australia, and this one, from The Argus in Melbourne.

My grandma is the oldest of their four children. She still has the trophy he won.