Friday, 2 March 2012

300 children named Charter

In the years following publication of the People’s Charter, nearly 300 parents gave their children the first or middle name Charter. The children’s names, the registration districts and quarter-years in which they were born have now been added to Chartist Ancestors.
Their names join the hundreds already listed who were named after Chartist heroes including William Lovett, John Frost, Henry Vincent and Ernest Jones – taking the total number of Chartist Children on the site to 1,643. There is a full list of them here.
Along with those named Charter, I have included children called Charters, which seemed close enough to suggest a link to the core document of Chartism (and for which I could think of no other explanation). But I have excluded Charteris and Charterisc as rather less likely radical names.
While working on the entries, a line from a 1959 Tony Hancock comedy episode suddenly sprang to mind: “Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?” a deluded Hancock asked the jury in Twelve Angry Men.
How important would a document have to be before you used it as the basis of your child’s name? I did search the FreeBMD website, but found not a single child called Magna Carta since registration began in 1837. There were a few named Magna, but sadly none with the surname Carter.
The picture, showing working class home life shortly after the Chartist period (in 1861) is from the Illustrated Times and appeared in Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Capital 1848-1875.