WHAT do Urina Hedges, Flossie Freak and Teddy Bear have in common?
Apart from having cruel parents, all three are past residents of Oxford and feature in a new book on the county’s most unfortunate surnames.
Historian and author Paul Sullivan has written Frogley, Cockhead and Crutch, which details the potentially hazardous path between birth and birth certificate.
He said: “It all started when I had a conversation with a friend in the pub who told me about the Golden Balls roundabout near Oxford, which I thought was very funny.
“I thought there might be a few good place names to write a book about, but it turns out researching names has been even better.”
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The 45-year old lives in Forest Hill, near Oxford, with his wife Magda and two children, Jan and Theo.
Mr Sullivan, a corporate writer, spent six months researching names for the book through publishers The History Press and Oxford’s Central Library, including its newspaper and census archives.
He said: “It is amazing how many cruel parents there are out there to give their children such stupid names.”
Out of all of the different tales Mr Sullivan uncovered, he said his favourite was that of the four Ogle sisters – Janet, Mary, Amelia and Caroline – who were born in Oxford between 1821 and 1826.
The top 10
- Willy Cockhead
- Silly Waters
- Rhoda Turtle
- Lizzie Looney
- Jesus Devilheart
- Dick Thick
- Wally Willy Howling
- Percival Rob de Banks
- Mary Christmas
- Iva Penny
According to legend, the sisters were used as models for the statues on top of the St Giles entrance to the Ashmolean Museum, symbolising the literary heritage of France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Local historian Ann Spokes Symonds, from Wolvercote, said history could throw up many names that would be considered rude by today’s standards.
She wrote a book called The Origins of Oxford Street Names, and said her research also uncovered some unusual names. Mrs Spokes Symonds said: “Magpie Lane went through a series of names which weren’t very suitable, it used to be known as Grope Lane in the thirteenth century because of its unfortunate reputation.”
Mr Sullivan’s previous books include The Secret History of Oxford, which details the city’s hidden stories and anecdotes. He said he was coming up with ideas for his next book. which he hopes to have published in 2018. He will be signing copies of Frogley, Cockhead and Crutch at the Museum of Oxford tomorrow at 10.30am.