Baby name story: Invicta

Rearing horse and the word "Invicta"

I recently discovered that Axl Rose (the vocalist for the rock band Guns N’ Roses) was briefly married to a woman with the interesting name Erin Invicta Everly. Invicta is a form of the Latin word invictus, which means “unconquered.”

What’s the story behind her middle name?

Well, Erin was born in 1965 to musician Don Everly (of The Everly Brothers) and actress Venetia Stevenson — full name Joanna Venetia Invicta Stevenson.

Venetia, in turn, was born in 1938 to director Robert Stevenson and actress Anna Lee (best known for portraying Lila Quartermaine on General Hospital).

Anna Lee is the one who came up with Invicta. Here’s what she said in her memoir:

Venetia’s middle name, Invicta, meaning “invincible,” came from a childhood memory. I used to watch the street being repaired, and I loved the smell of the thick, black tar as it was poured over the gravel and then flattened and smoothed by a giant steamroller. It was the huge, formidable steamroller that fascinated me. On the front of this piece of machinery was a brass plaque of a horse, rearing up, with the word “Invicta” beneath it.

Interesting, isn’t it? Certainly one of the most vivid baby name stories I’ve seen in a while.

The steamroller would have been an Aveling-Barford steamroller.

The company, established as Aveling and Porter in the 1860s, was based in Kent (which is where Anna Lee was born). It used Kent’s motto, “Invicta,” and the rearing horse from Kent’s coat of arms on its steamrollers and other equipment.

Flag of Kent
Flag of Kent

Anna Lee’s memoir also mentions that Venetia’s first name was inspired by a portrait of Venetia Stanley (1600-1633) that Anna had seen at Sherborne Castle in Dorset.

P.S. The “White Horse of Kent” dates back to the early medieval Kingdom of Kent. Some say it was originally the emblem of Horsa (of the legendary brothers Hengist and Horsa).


Image: Adapted from 1871 Aveling and Porter traction engine 04 by Oxyman under CC BY 2.5.

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