The Polaris Expedition (1871-1873) was one of the many ill-fated early attempts to reach the North Pole.
In November of the first year, the ship’s captain, Charles Francis Hall, died — possibly from being poisoned. In October of the second year, the ship’s company accidentally broke up: 19 people were stranded on an ice floe while 14 remained on board.
Among those on the floe were Inuit hunter/interpreter Hans Hendrik (Greenlandic name: Suersaq), his wife Mergut, and their four children — including a newborn. The baby boy had arrived in August of 1871, while the family was still aboard the ship.
No doubt his parents gave him a Greenlandic name, but all the accounts of the expedition only mention the baby’s English name: Charlie Polaris. “Charlie” was for the late captain, and “Polaris” was for the ship.
Baby Charlie and the others were finally rescued in April of 1973 off the coast of Newfoundland, having drifted some 1,500 miles.
Nzingha Motisla Masani was given her African name at a naming ceremony in 1974. Many friends and family members disapproved of (or simply didn’t acknowledge) her name change, but some of the people she encountered strongly approved:
I got my name changed while I was working for a politician, and I went to a lot of community meetings. And I got up one night at this ninety-five percent Polish meeting. I told them proudly that, “Please do not call me by my old name, my birth name. I’m proud to tell everyone that my new name is Nzinga Motisla Masani.” […] And they gave me a standing ovation. Well a lot of the Polish people came up to me after the meeting and they had to immediately change their name when they got here in order to get a job, or in order to fit into society. They admired me for doing it and they said that some of what I said to them motivated them to tell their children the importance of their history and the importance of your name.
Prolific romance author Parris Afton Bonds — who co-founded both Romance Writers of America and the Southwest Writers Workshop — explained the origin of her first and middle names in an article from 1981:
“I’d like to tell you I was named after Paris, France,” Parris Afton Bonds told me as I visited her in her house outside Lewisville, “but I wasn’t. It was Paris, Kentucky.” She was, however, named after the River Afton in Scotland, and she pointed to a bottle on her bookshelf, still bearing a Schweppes label, that was filled with Afton water.
Other sources specify that Parris was in fact conceived in Paris, Kentucky.
The British ocean liner SS Ivernia (1899-1917) made many voyages between Europe and North America during the early 1900s. Various babies were born on board during these years, and at least two of these babies were given names to honor the ship.
The first was born in May of 1906, while the Ivernia was sailing from Liverpool to Boston. A Polish passenger (“Mrs. Micholius Pacer”) welcomed a baby girl named Pauline Ivernia Pacer.
The second was born in April of 1914, when the Ivernia was sailing from Naples to New York City. A Hungarian passenger (“Mrs. Sandor Szentkiraly”) welcomed a baby girl named Gazilla Ivernia Szentkiraly.
The word “Ivernia” is a version of the geographical term “Hibernia,” which was used by ancient Greek and Roman writers to refer to the island of Ireland.
“Ivernia Met Fogs and Gales.” Boston Evening Transcript 11 May 1906: 3.
“Two Babies Born on Ship.” New York Times 27 Apr. 1914.