Unusual Real Names – Erminnie, Ghillean, Lascelles, Tahupotiki, Ruta

I haven’t put up a batch of unusual names recently, so here you go…

  • Erminnie Adelle Platt Smith (born in 1836) – American geologist and linguist.
  • Ghillean Tolmie Prance (born in 1937) – British botanist and ecologist.
  • Lascelles Abercrombie (born in 1881) – British poet and literary critic.
  • Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana (born in 1873) – Founder of New Zealand’s Ratana religion.
  • Ruta Lee (born in 1936) – Canadian actress and dancer.

5 thoughts on “Unusual Real Names – Erminnie, Ghillean, Lascelles, Tahupotiki, Ruta

  1. There probably is a good reason why the parents of each of these individuals chose these unusual sounding — to most of us — names.

    In the case of Ruta Lee:
    (Wikipedia) Lee was born Ruta Mary Kilmonis in Montreal, Canada, the only child of Lithuanian immigrants.

    (Behind the Name) RUTA
    Gender: Feminine
    Usage: Polish
    Pronounced: RUW-tah [key]
    Polish form of RUTH

    (Right away I suspected that Ruta was Ruth in a language other than English.)

  2. Lascelles Abercrombie:

    Lascelles is a surname associated with English royalty. In 1922 Princess Mary, the only daughter of George V, married Henry Charles George, Viscount Lascelles, the elder son of Henry Lascelles, 5th Earl of Harewood.

    It may be that Lascelles Abercrombie’s mother, or other close relative, was a member of the prominent Lascelles family.

  3. Ghillean Tolmie Prance’s father was called Basildon Camden Prance. Perhaps it was a Prance family tradition to give their sons very unique names.

    “Basildon Camden Prance, an offocial in the British Colonial Service in India working as a magistrate, married Margaret Macnair in 1935. A son Ghillean was born 13th July 1937. ”

    Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana appears to be is a Maori name. He preferred to be called “Bill”:

    “RATANA, Tahupotiki Wiremu


    Maori faith healer and leader.

    Better known in later life as “Bill”, T. W. Ratana was reared in the Wanganui region. From being an obscure Maori farmer in 1921, he had by the end of that year attracted national attention by his powers of faith healing… ”

    Erminnie Adele Platt Smith:

    I’m guessing Erminnie was originally a nickname for Ermintrude and sometimes used as the given name. I found 2 or 3 other 19th century women named Erminnie when doing a Google search. According to “New Oxford Dictionary of First Names” , ERMINTRUDE is “of Germanic origin, adopted from Old French by the Normans and introduced by them to Britain. …was occasionally revived in the 18th and 19th centuries…” I found a mention of Erminnie Platt Smith spending 4 years in Germany, and I think the surname Platt is German.

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