Our Baby Name of the Day is Cadogan.
Cadogan is the Anglicized version of the Welsh Cadwgan. Cad means battle. There’s some debate about the second element. It makes sense for it to mean glory, as some sources suggest. But it could also mean scowler, which I suppose is still pretty fierce.
It has history as a given name and a surname, too. Cadwgan also appears in the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh myths and legends. He’s a very minor figure.
So if not a Knight of the Round Table or some other tale of derring do, where had I heard Cadogan?
That’s when it hit me.
The portraits at Hogwarts are enchanted, and serve as messengers and guards. For each of the Hogwarts common rooms, a portrait guards the entrance. Students must give the password to enter. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione first join Gryffindor, the portrait is known as the Fat Lady. But a few books later, she’s replaced by a rather fearless – and perhaps slightly dotty – knight called Sir Cadogan.
Where could J.K. Rowling have found the name?
Frank Cadogan Cowper painted all sorts of scenes from literature and history during the first half of the twentieth century. He must have painted a few knights along the way, but most of his better known work features women. The painter’s middle name wasn’t a fanciful adoption – instead, it was his mother’s maiden name. I’ve also seen it spelled Cadogen.
- Cadogan Square is quite the desirable address.
- There’s also Cadogan Place, home to the Assinghams in Henry James‘ novel The Golden Bowl. The unfortunately named couple are minor figures, but their address plays a pivotal role in the story’s events.
- The Royal Philharmonic performs at Cadogan Hall, which sounds storied, but is actually a relatively new addition, a converted church.
- The Cadogan Hotel is a luxurious destination. It’s famous for its location, with its private gardens and proximity to Cartier and Chanel, as well as for its former guests. Actress and companion of King Edward VII, Lillie Langtry, stayed at the Cadogan. So did writer Oscar Wilde. Wilde was arrested from the Cadogan for his affairs with men. (He’d been warned of his impending arrest, but refused to flee England.) There’s a poem called The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel by John Betjeman.
It all makes Cadogan fascinating – literary, aristocratic, playful.
But here’s the snag. I’m pronouncing Cadogan sort of like cardigan. But Cadogan sounds more like Caduggan, emphasis on the dug, at least when referring to the Earls and the London locations.
Some who wear it as a surname seem to favor the more intuitive cad oh gan or cad uh gan. That’s the pronunciation that would work better for an American boy in 2013.
In fact, Cadogan might fit right in with longer surname names for boys. If Sullivan and Harrison and Everett can be stylish choices for sons, then why not Cadogan? He’s nearly as romantic as Caradoc or Lancelot, but feels wearable in 2013. Bonus: you could always shorten the storied Cadogan to the cowboy Cade.