Here’s something funny I spotted in a newspaper from 1911:
The present Lord Desart is now one of the British members of the International court of arbitration at The Hague, and was for many years public prosecutor. He rejoices in the altogether appalling Christian name of Agmondisham, which was borne by the father of the first Lord Desart, and also by the latter’s maternal grandfather, Col. Agmondisham Muschamp of Cromwell’s Roundhead army, through whom he inherited a considerable amount of property.
That would make a great title, wouldn’t it? Don’t be surprised if you see a list-post here one day entitled “Altogether Appalling Names.” I certainly see enough of them.
The original Agmondesham, Agmondesham Muschamp, lived from 1564 to 1642. He was knighted in 1620 by James I (the guy Guy Fawkes tried to kill). Apparently his name did not impress the King:
Mrs. Muschamp, then a widow, held her first court at East Horsley in 1620 (7th James L); and on her death, July the 20th, the same year, the estate descended to her son, Admondesham Muschamp. That gentleman was knighted by James the First, who finding some difficulty in pronouncing the name of the new knight, coarsely exclaimed, “By —, the Devil must have been his Godfather.”
So where did this devilishly appalling appellation come from?
It was Agmondesham Muschamp’s mother’s maiden name. Ultimately it comes from a location: Agmondesham, nowadays spelled Amersham, is a town 27 miles north-west of London.
- La Marquise de Fontenoy (pseudonym of Marguerite Cunliffe-Owen). “Loses Last Member of Home Rule Party.” Times Dispatch [Richmond, VA]. 3 Mar. 1911: 4.
- Brayley, Edward Wedlake. A Topographical History of Surrey. Vol. 2. London: G. Willis, 1850.