Monday, January 29, 2001

There, Then, That Izard!

A woman named Donna recently shared this bit of trivia with us after stumbling upon a particular – and most peculiar, at that – name:

I had assumed that Bellairs had invented the name Izard for his villains Isaac and Serena in The House with a Clock in its Walls, but today I ran across the name Izzard in The Guinness Book of Names by Leslie Dunkling (6th edition). It's in the chapter on the history of surnames, under the section "Henry Guppy's 'Peculiar' Names" [118-21]. Here's Dunkling's explanation:


In 1890 Henry Brougham Guppy published his 'Homes of Family Names in Great Britain.' Guppy had made a particular study of the names of farmers, whom he described as 'the most stay-at-home class of the country,' and discovered that in each county their surnames fell into various groups.... These ranged from “General” found all over to “Peculiar” which were “found mainly in one county only."
Dunkling gives Guppy's list of Peculiar Names organized by the counties in which they were found. "Izzard" is listed under Berkshire. Even more interesting is that “Bellairs” is in the same section, under Northamptonshire. I looked in vain for “Barnavelt” in the index even though the book includes names from all over the world.

Thanks for sharing, Donna.

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