Young Knight in a Landscape (also known as Por...Jasmin’s week continues with a name that I thought I must have read in tales of the Round Table.  Only it was a slightly different work of fiction.

Our Baby Name of the Day is Cadogan.

Cadogan is the Anglicized version of the Welsh CadwganCad 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.

Harry Potter.

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.

Then there’s Earl Cadogan, a family tracing its history to Oliver Cromwell’s army.  The family has long owned huge swaths of land in central London, mostly in and around Chelsea:

  • 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.

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. On my genealogical study on Cadogan, from Abergavenny to Australia and Beyond, 1829-2005, Peter Howard Cadogan introduces his Cadogan Y DNA project, and identifies the following Cadogan “families” of most if not all Cadogans living today:

    1. Monmouthshire Cadogans
    2. Gloucestershire Cadogans
    3. Pembrokeshire Cadogans
    4. Welsh Patronymic Cadogans
    5. Cadwgans
    6. Barbados Cadogans
    7. Irish Cadogans

    The Y-DNA research carried out by Oxford Ancestors 9th September 2004 confirms this and produces the Y-Line certificate for 16 participants of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, United States of America and Barbados. They are classified as Groups A, B and C; Group A includes 13 participants that show identical or very similar Y-chromosome signatures!
    Cheers, Jimmy Cadogan, Mount Ousley, Australia

  2. I immediately thought Harry Potter portrait when I saw this name. It’s nice to know it has other more distinguished roots… Although Harry Potter is pretty cool from where I’m sitting 🙂