Innogen became Imogen, and Amabel was whispered down the alley into Annabel. Today’s choice is yet another name transformed over time.
Liz’s week wraps up with the literary, heroic Cedric as our Baby Name of the Day.
Legend has it that at the very end of the 400s, Cerdic invaded England and, within a few years, become King of Wessex, the first Anglo-Saxon ruler of the region, and the founder of a new dynasty.
But Cerdic’s name is name is British, almost certainly without Germanic roots. Other figures answered to the similar Ceretic, Ceredig, and Caradoc. He may have had a British mother, or he might have been a local who rose to power, his story altered over time.
We might have forgotten it entirely, if not for Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 romance Ivanhoe. Scott changed Cerdic to Cedric – it is unclear if switch was a deliberate choice or an accident.
In Scott’s tale, Wilfred is a Saxon aristocrat siding with the Norman king Richard I, much to the frustration of his dad, Cedric. Cedric is busy arranging a marriage for his well-born ward, Rowena, to the Saxon claimant to the throne. Wilfred and Rowena, meanwhile, are madly in love. Despite Cedric’s machinations, the couple live happily ever after.
The name begins to surface shortly thereafter, but sparingly. In the late nineteenth century, Frances Hodgson Burnett chose the name for her Little Lord Fauntleroy – Cedric Errol, a poor boy living his widowed mother in New York when a proper Englishman arrives on their doorstep, announcing that Cedric is the heir to an Earldom. In England, Grandpapa and Cedric hit it off, and for the first time in his life, the elderly Earl behaves with generosity, inspired by young Cedric.
Children’s literature gives us a second noble Cedric, Cedric Diggory, of the House of Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter series. He’s a handsome fellow, the closest thing Hogwarts has to a quarterback, and his murder at the hands of Lord Voldemort marks a turning point in the series, so despite his death, the character is referenced often. It also doesn’t hurt that a young Robert Pattison played the role before sprouting fangs as the vampire heartthrob du jour, Edward Cullen in the Twilight series.
If you don’t think of a fictional boy wizard, might think of HBO’s The Wire, featuring police lieutenant-turned-attorney Cedric Daniels, or maybe Cedric the Entertainer, one of the Original Kings of Comedy.
Cedric reads English, but in recent years he’s been most popular with African American parents. Cedric peaked in 1974 at #230. That’s about as popular as Ezekiel, Chance, Harrison, or Kai today. He’s faded to just #702 in 2009, but then, so have many names that found favor in the 1970s.
Despite his low ranking, Cedric has the marks of a name that could make a comeback. Plenty of other notables have worn the name, like landscape and portrait painter Sir Cedric Morris. And as the generation of kids who came of age with the Harry Potter series have kids of their own, it is possible that they’ll see Cedric less as a fusty, British name reserved for boys in velvet suits and more as a handsome, historic choice.