We interrupt rerun week to post something a little bit different. I was certain I’d written a full post about this saint’s name, but instead she’s just mentioned in an early list of obscure saints’ names.
Inspired by British PM David Cameron’s new daughter, our Baby Name of the Day is Endellion.
The littlest Cameron is actually named Florence Rose Endellion. There’s very little chatter about her botanical first name and first middle – both fairly common in the UK and familiar throughout the English-speaking world.
But Endellion is quite the rarity, and almost certainly would never have appeared on the new baby’s birth certificate, except that Samantha Cameron unexpectedly delivered while on a pre-baby holiday in Cornwall.
If obscure saints are your thing, Cornwall is home base. Starting in the fifth century, missionaries from Ireland and Wales came to the isolated peninsula at the south-western end of Great Britain, a place so distant the Romans barely made it there.
Historical evidence for many local saints becomes problematic. St. Brychan is listed as the father of perhaps as many as two dozen children – all of whom are listed as saints themselves, many with villages named in their memory. One of Brychan’s daughters wore the name Endellion.
The Camerons babymoon took them to the area near St. Endellion, also known as Sen Endelyn in Cornish. You may have heard of the music festivals that have taken place in the area for decades. The fifteenth-century parish church is still called St. Endellion.
Endellion appears on the catholic.org list of saints, but that’s not quite the same thing as saying there’s rock solid evidence for her life. For hundreds of years, saints were established by local custom. Most of the process we think of for becoming a saint was added in the twentieth century.
Her name was Latinized as Endelienta, and she also appears as Endelient, Edellienta, and Endelyon. That last one gives a clue to one of the more common pronunciations: en DEL yon. But I’m hearing end del EE on in British news reports of the birth.
Most accounts list her as a virgin and recluse. The stories are more fantastic from there: she was King Arthur’s goddaughter, she subsisted only on cow’s milk. Two wells were named in her honor.
Regardless of the saint’s backstory, the world now knows much about the tiny Cornish village. It gives Endellion an air of mystery and rugged outdoors appeal, too. The name lands somewhere between the tailored Allison/Madison crowd and the elaborately feminine Isabella/Olivia cluster. While Endie doesn’t make for much of a short form, Della and Delia and the boyish Lio are options.
The name had never surfaced in the US Top 1000, is not listed on most conventional baby name websites, and her origins are obscure. (A handful of sources give her meaning as fire or fire soul, but I couldn’t confirm the derivation.) She sounds something like the Greek shepherd of myth, oft-borrowed by poets and a Mardi Gras krewe, Endymion – but there’s no connection.
Congratulations to the Camerons. I believe we owe them our thanks for introducing an obscure gem into circulation once more!
This is my daughter’s given name – and the one we call her by! I cannot imagine a more beautiful or more fitting name for her.
Endellion is beautiful! My favourite obscure saint’s name. I’d use Dell as a nickname.
Ena, Enna, Enda, even ona, bit of a strech bit they are all great nn for Endellion
Mrs.Emma Peel says
I adore this name! Thank you for sharing it. If my last child was a boy, I considered the nickname Ender, from “Ender’s Game”.
How neat that I could morph this nickname to use with my little girl!
Wait until you see the BNotD for Thursday, Emma!
One of my favourite sibsets from the Telegraph featured Endellion: Tallulah Endellion Louise, Alexandra, George and Ottilie.
I suggested it as a middle for my Ottilie and it was shot down in a split second of grimacing confusion. I expected that.
English Kate says
I love Everild and Kerensa too – oh and Loveday as an unexpected middle name choice. Perhaps one of these could be a contender for future namer of the day if they haven’t already featured?
I’ve been hearing Endellion pronouced on the English news as en-del-EE-on if that helps at all. I really like it as a third middle name to honour Florence’s place of birth but I’m not sure I would like it as much as a first name. Florence Rose Endellion is a really pretty choice but I expected the Cameron’s to choose well after Nancy Gwen and Arthur Elwen.
If I were to be really picky, I would say that Florence and Rose sound a little too floral together for my taste. I know that Florence obviously isn’t a floral name but it does sound Flowery particularly with the nickname Flora; it’s a minor issue though, as is the fact that little Florence has not one – but two places names in her name!
Ooh, Cornish names! I don’t know too many; the ones I can think of off the top of my head comprise a very short list. Demelza, Kerensa, Minver, Veryan, Piran… and I also love Brychan; have you done a NotD on that? Not a fan of DC but I do like his baby naming choices.
Minver was one of Endellion’s sibs!
It’s interesting…but it makes me think of dandelions.
Not a name I would ever use, but I can appreciate the Cameron’s use of the name, especially as a 2nd middle name.
I love the story of Brychan and his sainted children, my favorite of his children’s names are Keyne and Eluned.
Eluned is coming up, Julie!
And it does have something in common with dandelion, doesn’t it?
I don’t hate it but it doesn’t seem user friendly, as far as spelling and pronunciation. Reminds me of Endymion, mythological figure (or maybe just Sailor Moon). It also has a sort of sci-fi feel to it: “Captain, the Endellions are hailing us.” I think it’s the “dell” part that bothers me, but it has a sort of majestic and feminine flow. What if we dropped the ‘n’? Endellia is nice. Maybe.
Ah, see, I love the DEL. But I do think the Endellions might be hailing Captain Kirk out there somewhere …
I’m going to go against the grain: not a fan of Endellion. Looks like hellion and rebellion, from which I get the pronunciation. Endellion also sounds like indelible (which might not be that bad). Listeners will confuse it for Helen and Ellen. It also looks a bit like dandelion.
If a child will have to spell their name for the rest of their life, I’d at least give them something shorter.
If I was arm twisted into using Endellion, I’d choose the nn Ellie or Della.
If the true pronunciation is closer to en-day-lee-on, it’s going to sound similar to the surname deLeon. Or is the final n fairly silent, as with Celine Dion?
I’m hearing the n in everything I’ve heard, Joy – but I’m not sure that means anything. 🙂
I thought of you when they announced the name. Didn’t you say this is one of your old favorites? I believe you actually introduced me to it!
She is one of my favorites, but my #1 obscure saint name is Leocadia. 🙂
Charlotte Vera says
What a fabulous name! As a typical North Americaner, I automatically pronounced it en-DEL-yon in my head, but think end-del-EE-on is pretty too.
I read through a book of Saints’ names when pregnant with Roseanna, and at one point tried to talk my husband into Everild, but the Camerons’ selection is even nicer because of their reason for the choice.
I do like Everild and Averil, too.
I think if more people were aware of Endelyn, I could definitely see it catching on here in the States. Especially among parents who are attracted to names like Emerson, Adalyn, Emelyn, Evelyn, Kaylin etc.
I really like Endellion, a cool gem.
You’re quite right, Sebastiane – Endelyn fits with current trends very nicely. Wonder if we’ll see any turn up in the BAs?
JNE, I’m fascinated by the pronunciation, too. I’ve long thought that with obscure names, you have a certain freedom to insist on the pronunciation you prefer. I found two other pronunciations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5gDOtrHFvk (gives it a dill sound, rather than a del)
http://www.pronouncenames.com/keyhelp.php?nameid=6209 (suggests it should be day lee, rather than de lee)
Filtering British English into American English, and allowing for regional accents on both sides of the Atlantic, well … I’m really not sure where that leaves Endellion! There is an active community devoted to restoring Cornish as a living language: http://www.magakernow.org.uk/ is just one of the sites. Maybe they’ll weigh in on the name.
And yes, I do think Endellion has the ring of authenticity about her – the family has a strong connection. It’s not quite like naming your kid Brooklyn if you’ve never been to the East Coast, or calling her Savannah if you’ve never ventured south of the Mason-Dixon line. No matter how unusual the choice, I almost always enjoy something meaningful.
I like it alright. Endellion said en de LEE on isn’t my favorite – I prefer it said en DELL yon or en DELL ee on, but that’s just how I heard it first in my head – it’s not like I have ever heard this name said by anyone before. I can’t imagine the Camerons propelling the name to stardom. But, the Cornish, Endelyn, has legs, if you ask me, (although this one, I automatically want to say EN de lyn) – it’s similar to Evelyn, which is getting more popular, but has an interesting twist. Plus, parents seem to really like that -lyn ending.
This is one instance I can be OK with a reference to a place – this seems somehow special, rather than cheesy or trashy. I’m sure glad they didn’t call her “Florence Rose Cornwall” or “Florence Rose Penzance”! I’m curious to hear more about Endellion’s pronunciation, though.