Sissieretta Jones was a famous African-American soprano who performed both nationally and internationally from the late 1880s to the mid-1910s.
She began her career as an opera singer, earning the nickname “Black Patti” in reference to Italian opera singer Adelina Patti. (She was not a fan of the nickname.)
She sang for presidents and royalty, but racism prevented her from performing in most American concert halls. So in the mid-1890s she switched over to popular music, headlining the successful traveling show the “Black Patti Troubadours.”
Sissieretta’s unique name — originally her middle name (her first name was Matilda) — appears to be a blend of Sissie and the name of her mother, Henrietta.
It’s a land survey, compiled in 1086, that covered much of England and parts of Wales.
The Domesday Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land (villagers, smallholders, free men, slaves, etc.), the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and other resources, any buildings present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.), and the whole purpose of the survey – the value of the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday.
The book is held at The National Archives in London, but its contents are available online at Open Domesday.
Most of the names in the Domesday Book are male, as most landowners were men. So, to be different (and to make things easier!) I thought I’d focus on the women.
The female names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (Multiple mentions don’t necessarily speak to name popularity, as this is not a representative sample of 11th-century people. Also, some individuals are simply mentioned in the book more than once.)
See anything you like?
Also, did you notice the names of Scandinavian origin (e.g., Guthrun, Ingrith, Sigrith)? “These names are most numerous in the eastern half of the country, particularly Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This is precisely where, as we know from other evidence, there was a substantial settlement of Scandinavian immigrants.”
A reader named Marissa, who has a daughter named Beatrix Penelope (nn Bea), is expecting twins–one boy, one girl. She’s got their middle names narrowed down (Anthony or Alexander for the baby boy, Daphne or Jillian for the baby girl) but she’d like some help with their first names.
Here’s what she’s looking for in a boy name:
For the boy I’d like names that are two syllables long and start and end in a consonant. So far I like Robert, Patrick, Daniel and Fabian. The only one he likes is Fabian, but we’re still not sure.
And here’s what she’s looking for in a girl name:
For the girl I’d like names that are three or four syllables long, and start and end in a vowel. So far I like Anastasia, Ophelia, Elena and Ursula, but he likes none of them.
The babies’ last name will sound something like Thisbe.
Here are some of the boy names I came up with:
And here are some ideas for the girl name:
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”