Two more people named for horses?

horse

In her autobiography, fashion editor Diana Vreeland mentioned two people named for horses:

[Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster] was named after a horse — Bendor, who won the Derby. Lots of people were named after horses. One of my great friends in London was Lady Morvyth Menson. I asked, “For goodness’ sakes, where’d you get this name Morvyth?” She said, “Well, you see, my father was off racing somewhere when I was born. My mother was dying, and there was no one in charge but the servants. ‘We’ve got to name this child something.'” So they called her Morvyth after one of the polo ponies. Terribly pretty Welsh name, isn’t it?

Do the stories check out?

The first is a false alarm. As a baby, Hugh Grosvenor (1879-1953) was nicknamed Bendor after the thoroughbred Bend Or, because both had “chestnut hair.” The horse, which won the Epsom Derby in 1880, was owned by Grosvenor’s grandfather.

The second seems suspicious. Lady Morvyth (1896-1959) wasn’t really one of Vreeland’s “great friends” — her married name was Benson, not Menson — but I have no way to check on the names of the ponies, so I guess I can’t discount it.

(“Morvyth” is a version of the Welsh name Morfudd, a “name borne by many women from early Welsh tradition.”)

I’m still intrigued by Vreeland’s claim that “[l]ots of people were named after horses,” but I wish she’d included more examples in the book.

Sources:

  • Grosvenor Estate – The 2nd Duke
  • MacKillop, James. A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Vreeland, Diana, George Plimpton, Christopher Hemphill. D.V. New York: Ecco, 2011.

Image by Violeta Pencheva from Unsplash

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