Friday, 2 March 2012

A boy named Charter

After reading about the Chartist practice of naming children after political heroes in the current issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, one reader got in touch today to say she now understood how her husband's great grandfather came to be called Samuel Feargus Brontere Vincent Charter Debbage.
Young Mr Debbage was born on 1 January 1841 in West Wymer, Norwich, and must in later life have been grateful for the first name Samuel. My great great great grandfather saddled one of his children with the first name Garibaldi.
But the name also prompted me to carry out another quick search of the Free BMD website. I have often come across Chartist children named after Feargus O'Connor, William Lovett and in particular Henry Vincent. There are 1,399 of them on Chartist Ancestors. But Charter was a new one on me.
FreeBMD came up with:
* Charter Jackson Smith (born in Leeds in the September 1841 quarter);
* Charter Henty (Hollinbourne, September 1844);
* Charter Rodgers (Ely, September 1846);
* Charter Talbot (Newark, March 1849);
* Charter Reeve (St Ives, June 1850); and
* Charter Meeks (N Witchford, March 1854).
From then there through to 1924 there were a further 26 children named Charter or Charters (along with 268 who have Charter or Charters as a middle name).
In the few cases where it is possible to tell, almost all those with Charter as a first name seem to have been male (though curiously not those who have it as a middle name) – leaving me to wonder how parents decided that Charter was a boy's name.
But none is quite as magnificent a tribute to Chartism as Samuel (after Bamford, maybe) Feargus (O'Connor) Brontere (O'Brien) (Henry) Vincent (People's) Charter Debbage.