Nowadays, romantic hero names like Tristan and Orlando are all but mainstream for boys. Even Romeo is on the rise. So how ’bout this parfait gentil knight?
Thanks to Nicole for suggesting the noble Reginald as Name of the Day.
The most famous Reginald was, indeed, a chivalrous knight of old.
Also recorded as Raynald, Reynaud, Renaud, Reynold and Renald, Reginald of Chastillon lived in the 1100s. Part of the Second Crusade to the Holy Land, Reginald managed to rule briefly as Prince of Antioch and later as Lord of Oultrejordain. Both of his titles were held through marriage – the first to Constance of Antioch, the second to Etienette of Milly. By all accounts, Reginald was quite the adventurer – leading to seventeen years in a Turkish prison.
While Reginald was no John or William, plenty of men wore the name in Norman England. Germanic in origin, he comes from the elements ragin – advice and wald – ruler. The Normans brought French variants with them; Old Norse versions like Rognavaldr were already in use.
The same elements also led to Ronald. In the 1950s and 60s, twin brothers Reginald and Ronald Kray hobknobbed with Sinatra in their London nightclubs. Behind the scenes, they were criminal masterminds who eventually ended their days in prison.
There’s also the tenth century Saint Reinold – again, spellings abound, and he was Latinized as Reginaldus. He may’ve been descended from Charlemagne himself – at least that’s what translator and publisher William Caxton suggested in the fifteenth century.
Some of the most notable Reginalds are best known by another name:
- PG Wodehouse’s fictional manservant Jeeves rarely answered to his first name;
- On HBO’s The Wire, Reginald is the real name of drug addict Bubbles;
- Elton John was born Reginald Dwight;
- Rapper Redman was born Reginald Noble.
Reginald has a decidedly athletic tone, thanks to the legions of NFL, NBA and MLB players who have answered to Reggie.
There’s Mr. October – baseball hall-of-famer Reggie Jackson. With the Oakland A’s, he helped win three World Series before joining the New York Yankees to score two more. And let’s not forget the Minister of Defense, NFL hall-of-famer Reggie White, celebrated defensive end and an ordained minister.
Despite Reginald’s medieval vibe, he actually peaked in 1968, well before White and Jackson achieved renown. It’s tough to find an explanation for why Reginald reached #118 that year, but call him a classic anyhow – Reginald has appeared in the US Top 1000 since 1880.
Today he stands at #557, possibly maintaining his place in part thanks to all those proud papas eager to hand down their name. And therein lies Reginald’s problem. Instead of a daring rediscovery a la Orlando, Reginald feels a little bit like naming your kiddo Jeffrey or Scott. Nothing wrong with the name. But you’ve probably met a Reg, and he’s probably thirty, forty or more.
But if you’re a decade or more away from christening your firstborn? Reginald could be just the classic to keep in mind.