The Rev Tollemache-Tollemache: Naming names


Rev. Ralph William Lyonel Tollemache-Tollemache (1826-1895) with some of his children and second wife. (Back row, left to right) Mabel, Lyonesse, Lyulph, Dora (wife); (middle row), Leone Sextus; (front row, left to right) Leo Quintus, Lyona, the Reverend with Lyonetta and Lyonella

There’s some raw work pulled at the font from time to time, as Bertie Wooster memorably put it. And none have pulled rawer work than the Reverend Ralph Tollemache when it came to his own children…

In the records of the more or less illustrious dead, there are many who are remembered for only one thing – but there can be few whose sole claim to posthumous fame is the extravagantly bizarre naming of their children.

The Rev Ralph William Lyonel Tollemache, born on this day in 1826, was a well-connected Lincolnshire clergyman whose career was remarkable only for a brush with bankruptcy, the result of a dispute with his first wife’s trustees.

The year after that wife died, Tollemache was discharged from bankruptcy and, after a decent interval, he married Dora Cleopatra Maria Lorenza de Orellana, the daughter of an officer in the Spanish army, and launched on a new career of fathering a second brood of children and giving them increasingly elaborate and preposterous names. He also, somewhere along the way, decided to double his own surname, becoming Tollemache-Tollemache. Here’s the list of the unfortunate second brood’s monikers:

1. Dora Viola G.I.[?] de Orellana Plantagenet.
2. Mabel Helmingham Ethel Huntingtower Beatrice Blazonberrie Evangeline Vise de Lou de Orellana Plantagenet Toedmag Saxon.
3. Lyonesse Matilda Dora Ida Agnes Ernestine Curson Paulet Wilbraham Joyce Eugenie Bentley Saxonia Dysart Plantagenet.
4. Lyulph Ydwallo Odin Nestor Egbert Lyonel Toedmag Hugh Erchenwyne Saxon Esa Cromwell Orma Nevill Dysart Plantagenet.
5. Lyona Decima Veroica Esyth Undine Cyssa Hylda Rowena Adela Thyra Ursuala Ysabel Blanche Lelias Dysart Plantagenet.
6. Leo Quintus Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet.
7. Lyonella Fredegunda Cuthberga Ethelswytha Ideth Ysabel Grace Monica de Orellana Plantagenet.
8. Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudifilius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet.
9. Lyonetta Edith Regina Valentine Myra Polwarth Avelina Phillipa Violantha de Orellana Plantagenet.
10. Lyunulph Cospatrick Bruce Berkeley Jermyn Tullibardine Petersham de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet.
11. Fred.

Okay – I made that last one up. And now I need to lie down…

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About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

7 thoughts on “The Rev Tollemache-Tollemache: Naming names

    October 14, 2013 at 10:39

    This rings a bell – isn’t it one of mine?

    October 14, 2013 at 10:41

    I can remember a few years ago a newspaper report about parents of a large brood who named all their offspring after motorway service stations. I often wonder how Leigh Delamere and Membury are doing when I pull up there for a sneaky Ginsters.

  3. Brit
    October 14, 2013 at 11:29

    Oops, sorry Nige, technical cock up.

    October 14, 2013 at 11:30

    Does anyone know how they turned out? Surely in the absence of state-run counselling their lives were ruined by addictions and other dysfunctions caused by incessant teasing and an inabilty to live up to the promise of their names—or even to remember them?

    Again, I am reminded how our prejudices against the Victorians are coloured by their refusal to smile before the camera. Did the photographer line them all up and say “One, two, three…frown!” I’d like to think that after the shot they dissolved into giggles, hilarity and teasing over who had the stupidest name.

    October 14, 2013 at 13:12

    Child number four (son number one) is Lyulph Ydwallo Odin Nestor Egbert Lyonel Toedmag Hugh Erchenwyne Saxon Esa Cromwell Orma Nevill Dysart Plantagenet.

    The first letters of each name spell out LYONEL THE SECOND P. Obviously the ‘Plantagenet’ was irresistible, even though it screws up the acronym.

    Apparently, and pertinent to Denkof Zwemmen’s post last week, Joyce parodied this in Finnegan’s Wake with a character called Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Rupprecht Ydwalla Bentley Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann — i.e. HERE COMES EVERYBODY.

  6. Worm
    October 14, 2013 at 13:55

    calling a girl by the utterly bonkers name of Wilbraham is a mark of genius

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