If you’re seeking a rare bloom in the garden of roses, today’s choice might appeal.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting Rosamel as Name of the Day.
Rosamel sounds like an elaboration of Rose, just like Rosanna, Rosalie or Rosamund. Only we know that several Rose-names are actually derived from the Germanic hros – horse – making Rosalind and Rosamund a bit less botanical.
Lola’s family suggested that the name was a mash-up of Rose and the Latin for honey – mel. This tracks with one of many names Edmund Spenser invented for The Faerie Queen – Florimel, honey flower.
Alas, while it seems perfectly valid, it doesn’t appear to be historically defensible. Instead, Rosamel is almost certainly an old French surname.
Claude Charles Marie de Campe de Rosamel was a French naval officer. He eventually rose to serve as French naval minister. His service is better known for significant scientific voyages rather than wise military decisions.
He’s far from the first Rosamel. His title – Seigneur de Rosamel – is the equivalent of the English Lord. The surname appears on the Arc de Triomphe and there’s a Château de Rosamel located in Frencq, a village near Calais, dating from the 1700s.
The surname also appears in the historical record in Ontario in the 1800s. (There’s a Maud Rosamel listed in the 1891 census records!) And a handful of references suggest that Rosamel was very occasionally bestowed as a first name in France in the same era.
Despite her thoroughly medieval name, Godeleine de Rosamel is a French-born artist currently working in Los Angeles. She turned a childhood fascination with drawing animals into a career as a children’s book illustrator. Today she offers her own line of stuffed animals, blankets and other goods for children decorated with her trademark motifs.
Before I could file this one away as a French surname of uncertain derivation, Rosamel also popped up in South America. Rosamel del Valle was a Chilean poet and essayist active in the 1940s. While he wasn’t well known during his lifetime, he is now considered a leading Latin American surrealist. His work Eva y la Fuga was published posthumously and only translated into English in the 1990s.
Believe it or not, he’s not the only Latino male named Rosamel. I also turned up a Chilean singer named Rosamel Araya from the 1960s. But that’s where the trail dead-ends. There’s no hint of how Rosamel became a Spanish masculine moniker.
The only possibility that emerges is one of geography. Back in the 1800s, during Claude de Rosamel’s tenure as head of the French navy, he dispatched a scientific expedition to Antarctica, and an island off the Tabarin Peninsula was named in his honor. That’s actually quite close to South America. The island was ultimately renamed after a Swedish geologist who visited some decades later – today it is known as Andersson Island – but perhaps Rosamel Island was enough of a sensation to briefly influence naming trends in Chile.
If you’re looking for something rare but linked to a familiar appellation, Rosamel is one that might satisfy. But save this one for the girls – Chilean artists aside, Rosamel sounds decidedly feminine circa 2009.