Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Greetings!

I sincerely wish everyone a happy and peaceful holiday season, and may the coming new year bring you all love, happiness and the realisation of your goals.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So back to my original question - Do you have what is considered to be an unusual surname? What sort of response do you usually get when people hear it? Do you know about the origin of your "unusual" name?

Well, it is time to delve into my collection and I will start with one of my most recent finds.

The gentleman's name was HEADLEY. Not bad for a christian name. I have heard of Headly - a former governor of the Bank of Jamaica was a Dr. Headley Brown, who met a tragic and untimely death when he committed suicide some years ago.

But can you imagine a Mr. ?

What a brilliant piece of synonymous juxtaposing!

A scarf (noun) is a piece of cloth for wearing around the neck, head, or shoulders.

A quick check with an online etymolgy indicates that the word first came into use about 1276 and meant a "connecting joint" and probably came from the Old Norwegian "skarf", which was a nail for fastening a joint. This was a general North Sea ship -building term. This word was also borrowed into Romanic French "escart", and Spanish "escarb". By 1555, it was used to mean "a strip of cloth"- a band worn across the body or over the shoulders and related to the French "escarpe" meaning a slash or sling .

As a cold-weather covering for the neck, first recorded in 1884. In the 1960's it crept into U.S. teen slang and was used to mean "eat hastily", relating to its use as a noun meaning "food" or "meal" in the 1930s.

Andwhen did it come into use as a surname?

What were Headley's parents thinking when they gave him the name HEADLEY SCARF?

Your guess is as good as mine!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

McQueen Origin

About three years ago I did some research on the internet about the origins of the name Mcqueen and discovered this website, entirely dedicated to providing information on the McQueens. I do not recall the name of the website just now but a recently visited one is .

I gather that McQueen is of Scottish/Irish origins but we are scattered all over the globe now. I was a bit surprised to discover that most McQueens are whites and I have been trying to figure out how and when blacks got the name. I can only think that at some point in history, most likely during slavery, there was a white plantation owner who gave the name to his slaves ( I understand that this was a common practice then). I am still doing my research as as I want to find out specifically how we got to the Caribbean and when.


My surname is McQueen-Rowe. Pretty long, isn't it? And it does not not exactly trip off the tongue. It is what is referred to as a "double barrel" name and is therefore a combination of my maiden name and my married name. Why did I choose to keep my maiden name upon marrying? First, my father asked me to. In fact, on my wedding day after the signing of the certificates, he surreptitiously took me aside and whispered, "Did you do it?" and seemed very satisfied when I replied, "yes".

Later I learned that he had made the same request of my sister.

The second reason was that I had no intention of replacing my stately, uncommon family name for a boring sounding one such as ROWE. I was quite proud of my uncommon and unusual last name MCQUEEN and had got quite used to people always commenting on how nice and unusual it sounded, and will you please spell it? Is it Mcqueen as in Steve McQueen, the very famous movie star?

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is, I think that I do have a somewhat rare/uncommon maiden name (at least by Jamaican Standards). There are very few McQueens listed in our telephone directory and when I used to use it people were always asking me to spell it or telling me how lovely and stately it sounds, especially when I was required to write my entire name - JANET DAFFODIL MCQUEEN.

I am so in love with my surname that When I had my first son I briefly flirted with the idea of using my hyphenated surname as my child's surname. Guess who that would not go down well with?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How Do People Get Their Surnames?

It has been just over a year since I posted my first blog entry - but your island girl has been extremely busy, what with work and family! Plus bloggers' block! Yes! There is such a thing as bloggers block. Well, without further ado, let me get back to my subject of interest which I have been mulling over for some time now.
How do people get their last names? I have always been interested in how surnames originate - you know, the genealogical history behind them. I recollect vaguely reading somewhere some years ago, that some surnames were assumed because of the occupation of the individuals. So a man who was a tailor became a Mr. Taylor (the spelling changed over time) and he would give his offsprings that name.
Well, that sounds plausible, but how on earth do you explain the "colour names" Mr. White, Mr. Green, Mr. Brown, Mr Gray, and Mr Pink?
When did we start using surnames? And why exactly did it become necessary for us to start using them?
I have started to note what strikes me as really weird and unusual English sounding surnames.

These I will share with you in my upcoming posts.

Well, you may send to me the ones which you have encountered and do you have an unsual sounding name? Let me hear it and the history behind it!