Thursday, 27 September 2007

What's in a name?

Ainsworth James Thomas Coultart

That’s a bit unusual, isn’t it? Where did that little lot come from? Let’s start at the easy end. Coultart: well, that’s my name, isn’t it. When we got married we briefly considered taking Rachael’s surname instead, but I’m very glad we didn’t because then he’d be Ainsworth James Thomas Thomas, which would be a bit daft. Which brings us neatly on to Thomas.

Before we were married we’d chosen baby names: Thomas for a boy and… well, I won’t mention the girl’s name in case it comes in handy one day. Thomas because it was Rachael’s surname. Thomas because I’d always understood that my dad liked the name. But for various reasons which I’ll not go into now (but feel free to ask us afterwards) we didn’t end up using it as AJ’s first name.

James is easy. We could pretend it’s chosen after our first godson. We could pretend that we were following a small tradition of using James somewhere in the name: Ainsworth’s uncle is Benjamin James, his cousin in Tennyson James. But there’s a simpler reason. We wanted something starting with J so that we could call him AJ for short, and James was simply our favourite J name.

And so we get to Ainsworth. When we knew that a baby was on its way we started the name discussions in earnest. I found the lists of the most popular hundred names for boys and girls and we each went through annotating these lists with ticks and crosses. Rachael’s favourites were almost all in the top ten – which to me was in itself a reason to rule them out. And then one day, completely out of the blue, she surprised me with “How about Ainsworth?” Rachael, who had wanted to give our child a name that he would share with half his classmates, suggested Ainsworth. Now it will help if you know that Ainsworth is Rachael’s Mum’s maiden name.

I was quite taken aback initially, but very soon it started to grow on me to the point where I could think of no other name. I hoped we would be having a boy. In the meantime Rachael was becoming less sure and was finding all the reasons not to. Until the moment he was born, we hadn’t made the decision. But then 30 weeks ago we looked at his face, at just a few minutes old, and it seemed to fit.

There is one other reason. Most of you will know that one of Rachael’s brothers died a few years ago, and I’m sure a few of you may have wondered if we would call a son Daniel in his memory. I know I did. And I also know that Daniel always wanted us to have children. So we have chosen to remember Daniel: his name was Daniel John Ainsworth Thomas.

Ainsworth James Thomas Coultart: we hope he grows to love it.

(Note: this is a first draft of what I might be planning to say at Ainsworth's dedication on Sunday. Feel free to suggest amendments!)


Anonymous said...

Is it customary where you live to give your children four names? I love them all, but was just curious if this is a family tradition or a country tradition.

Trevor said...

Hi Anon, whoever you are. It's not especially common; most folk of my acquaintance have three names - many just two. We just fancied it!

CappyPrincess said...

It's a wonderful story of a name. I think it's always facinating to know the "whys" behind naming children.

I wish for you many happy memories of Ainsworth's dedication day.