Where did the baby name Ezzard come from in 1949?

Boxer Ezzard Charles (1921-1975)
Ezzard Charles

A few days ago, while doing some research, I came across a really intriguing name: Ezzard. It belonged to professional boxer Ezzard Charles, who became Heavyweight Champion in 1949 and retained the title until 1951.

The name Ezzard was among the 1,000 most popular U.S. baby names right around the time — and only around the time — Ezzard Charles was champ:

  • 1953: 37 baby boys named Ezzard
  • 1952: 54 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 975th]
  • 1951: 85 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 760th]
  • 1950: 63 baby boys named Ezzard [ranked 866th]
  • 1949: 21 baby boys named Ezzard [debut]
  • 1948: unlisted
  • 1947: unlisted

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Ezzard in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Ezzard

Where did his name come from? My best guess here is that Ezzard Charles, who was born in Georgia, was named in honor of William Ezzard (1799-1887), who served 4 terms as the mayor of Atlanta in the 1800s.

As several commenters have noted, Charles was actually named after Dr. W. P. Ezzard — the Lawrenceville, Georgia, doctor who delivered him in 1921. In fact, here’s a 1949 photo of the boxer and the doctor together:

Boxer Ezzard Charles and Dr. W. P. Ezzard (1949)
Ezzard Charles and Dr. W. P. Ezzard

The surname Ezzard is a variant of the English surname Izzard, which can be traced back (via the Middle English/Old French female personal names Iseld, Iseut, Isaut, Isolde, and Isoud) to the Old Cornish personal name Eselt, meaning “looked up to, admired.” The usage of Eselt in post-Conquest England can be attributed to the legend of Tristan and Isolde, “Cornish versions of which gained huge popularity in medieval Europe through romantic retellings by German, French, and Anglo-Norman writers.”

Have you ever met a person with the first name Ezzard?

P.S. Ezzard Charles was raised in Cincinnati, which now hosts an annual “Ezz Fest” in his honor.


Image: © 1949 Atlanta Constitution

[Latest update: 9/2022]

32 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Ezzard come from in 1949?

  1. My Great uncle was Webster Ezzard of Lawrenceville, GA. He was the town doctor and was present at the birth of Ezzard Charles the prize fighter. The mother decided to give him the doctor’s name. Many followed. They were probably named after the fighter. The doctor was a descendant of William Ezzard, an early mayor of Atlanta.

  2. Margaret is right on.Hello Margaret. My grandfather, Henry Hansel Ezzard, was a brother to Webster Ezzard. My grandfather and my father, George Gray Ezzard, told me about Ezzard Charles. They said the family could not pay Dr. Ezzard for his services so to show appreciation, they named their son after him.

  3. My mother’s last name is Ezzard. We are of mixed heritage : Native American, Black, and White. We are also supposed to be closely related to the late great Lena Horne.

  4. I have a good friend named Ezzard. He was born in Puerto Rico in 1976 and now lives in Minnesota.

  5. Ezzard Charles was named after my great uncle Web Ezzard. The family could not afford to pay the doctor so traded a bucket od blackberries for the service. May I borrow some money from the family of Ezzard Charles now?

  6. My name is John Ezzard. I thought it was a unique name but there are at least 3 of us running around the US (well, one is in Japan right now) – all are kin

  7. We are glad to hear people talkin about my granddad Ezzard Charles my name is Ezzard Mack CharlesIII gravy was a good man my dad Ezzard Charles jr is a good man. I want the world to know the man after boxing my grandfather started boxing before he was out of grammer school.One day a man in a big nice car road up on him and his brother scacey they were know more than eight or nine and told them he was a boxer and he owns 365 suits one for every day.If you want to know the real story i are want to produce a story movie contact me at Ezzard.Charles@yahoo.com

  8. Ezzard Charles III here, the money was long gone in the 70s guys we had to build everything ground up. Im writing a screen play on the life of Ezzard Charles and I really cound use some capital if it sounds like something you would like to do email me before september 2011 thank you.

  9. I am cousin to you Ezzards — from Nancy Ezzard m. to a Rogers, and on back.

    I cannot find pics of any Ezzards — do any of you have any ? Thank you.

  10. More on Dr. Webster Ezzard (1879-1963):

    Webster EZZARD: Gwinnett’s Doctor

    Dr. Webster Pierce EZZARD was one of the Gwinnett County doctors whose name came up most often when someone needed treatment and especially if a baby was on the way.

    During his career in Lawrenceville, EZZARD delivered 3,000 babies, many of whom were named after him. He even delivered Ezzard CHARLES, who grew up to become world heavyweight boxing champion.

    As a country doctor, EZZARD worked regular hours, but he claimed to never get to bed before midnight. He often saw patients in his corner office, which was a corner of a drug store at the time.

    EZZARD moved to Lawrenceville in 1906 after graduating 3 years earlier from Emory University Medical School. Throughout his medical career, he was inclined to use old medical remedies along with some emerging technology.

    During his long and popular medical career, EZZARD traveled throughout the county on foot, by mule, horse and buggy and – finally – by car.

    From a newspaper article quoted in this RootsWeb post.

  11. Edzard is a traditional frisian name (prominent bearer is Edzard Reuter, former CEO of Daimler-Benz), going to the spelling Ezzard is only a small step, IMHO.

  12. Ezzard was my grandmother’s maiden name. I’ve been researching that side of my family tree and wondering if there is any connection to an early mayor or judge in ATL. So far, not sure. I’ve always been fond of this surname in my family’s history.

  13. My middle name is Ezzard Charles and my grandfather is named Ezzard Charles, i was named after him, and he was named after the boxer of course. I really enjoy this name, its really unique.

  14. Hi! My uncle’s name is Ezzard =), Ezzard Scholer, and his parents gave him that name because of the American boxer ;)
    Greetings from CHILE

  15. My birth name was Ezzard, but I was baptized Joseph. At home was called Ezzard and in school went by Joseph. As a child was relentlessly teased being called buzzard, lizzard, gizzard, etc. When we moved to Calif, I told everyone my name was Joe. My God mother still calls me Ezzard. Was born in 1951 and in 1985 learned was named after Ezzard Charles. In retrospect should have kept the name Ezzard. Everyone knows a Joe, but few know an Ezzard.

  16. My great grandfather was Eugene Ezzard. His father was Henry Ezzard. Henry’s father was a mulatto slave living on his father’s, John T. Ezzard, plantation in Vickery Creek, Ga. in Forsyth County. John T. Ezzard’s brother wasa judge and the mayor of Atlanta before the Civil War. It is also documented and highly publicized that Judge William Ezzard is also the grandfather of America’s first black songstress and superstar Lena Horne. Judge Ezzard purchased a black slave by the name of Nellie Calhoun from U.S. Vice President Calhoun and produced Lena’s mother.

  17. Yes i was named after my dads favourite boxer,who incidently passed about the same time i was born.I have both names before my family sirname.

  18. I have both names Ezzard Charles.I was apparently named after my dad’s favourite boxer. I’m Papua New Guinean and have always wondered about the origins of my name.

  19. My grandfather is Dr Webster Pierce Ezzard. He was affectionately known as Doc. He indeed did deliver Ezzard Charles and named him. Doc practiced in the back of the drugstore that was later known as Monforts drug now McCrays restaurant.

  20. My second great grandmother was Lizzy Ezzard from the John Ezzard family line.

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