December, January, February

27 December 2014

Yesterday, I saw an interesting article entitled Snowballs, Santas and Sleighs: Liverpool residents’ festive surnames in the Liverpool Echo, about the number of people called Chris Massey and the lack of Mr and Mrs Tinsel. It led me to wonder about the months of the year and their use as both first and last names. To my knowledge, April, May and June are not uncommonly used as first names and August/Augustus/Augusta etc. are not unknown even in modern times. However, certain months do not lend themselves to ease of use and so, I thought I would do a little research on the current month of December.

Ancestry’s 1911 census transcription returns just three individuals with December as their surname but this highlights a rather interesting complication which I have, before today, not seen. Two of the characters were actually called May – in fact, their whole family had the surname of May but for some strange reason, they have been transcribed as consecutive months, with no rhyme or reason to the starting month in the household. For example, Ernest May of Court Farm, Sutton, Pulborough, Sussex was Ernest December and his wife, Annie, was Annie January and so forth, until their fourth child, Kathleen Annie who was actually given the correct surname of May. By contrast, the head of the household at 4 Phoenix Street, East Stonehouse was transcribed correctly as Albert May and his wife, Annie, was Annie June and then Flossie July (their eldest daughter) and so on, to Albert December, their youngest son. Nowt as queer as an Ancestry transcription! And to cap it all, a Polish man boarding with the Brown family (also born in Poland) in Stevenston, Ayrshire in the 1901 Scotland census called John December!

Is it just me who is slightly dubious of the names Joe Brown and John December and their Polish origin!?

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