My Grandfather’s name was Jack Broke Fairweather. The unusual middle moniker was a family tradition stemming from the English-American War of 1812. A direct ancestor served under Rear-Admiral Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke on the HMS Shannon. He was so impressed by the bravery and leadership his Captain showed in the decisive and brutal victory over the USS Chesapeake in 1813, he named his first born Broke.
My Grandfather was not fond of his middle name, so, if you will excuse the pun, he broke with the tradition. My brother, a braver man than I, resurrected the name. Given the reaction of his son, I very much doubt it will live on past the current generation.
I was fond of my Grandfather and was keen on our first born to share his JBF initials.
I eagerly suggested Bill as a middle name, but my wife was less than impressed. This lead to a standoff that lasted to the end of the statutory time required to submit the naming certificate.
The attachment to the name Bill came from when I was a small boy.
My older brother and I were both constructors and called ourselves Boss and Bill as we went about building all manner of creations. As I was smaller and younger, I was clearly Bill, though over the years I teasingly suggested to my elder sibling that his recollection was wrong and I was Boss and he was Bill. Whilst it was in jest as I strongly identified with being Bill, maybe there was a secret regret that I was not the boss, the seed for future leadership battles in my business and private life, not least the battle of naming our son. I wonder if my un-named ancestor would have seen my actions in the war of 2006 as an act of bravery or the folly that it was.
We had less trouble with naming our daughter. Initially we both readily and happily agreed on Claudia, pronounced Clawdia. Then someone said it was pronounced Cloudia. Given my surname, we forecasted this might cause some confusion and it was abandoned in favour of Camille.
For our son, in the end we settled on Nicholas. Neither my wife nor I are sure what inspired the choice, but it just seemed right. Nicholas himself is bewildered that we could have considered any other name as he is so obviously a Nicholas, and horrified that he might have had a different billing!
As the saying goes, If it ain’t broke…….
(Article originally published as Breaking with Tradition in New Farm Village News August 2017 )
Original watercolour image after Kamp mellem den engelske fregat ‚Shannon‘ og den amerikanske fregat ‚Chesapeake‘ by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg 1836