Sunday, July 27, 2014

What's in a name? Or...in a pseudonym? 

If no one has guessed, Lydia Gastrell is not my real name. Having false names for public use is incredibly common and shouldn't imply that I am embarrassed or ashamed of anything or trying to "hide." Okay, maybe I am trying to "hide" from my parents, but that's pretty much it, =P.  It's a protective measure more than anything else. But, someone asked me yesterday how I came up with my pen name, so I thought I would give you the story. 

I wanted something as unique as possible, and what's the current definition of "unique". Well, it has a lot to do with how many Google hits you get. I wanted a unique name that would be mine, one that would not lead to anyone else or anything else but what I DID. Pretty tall order, I know. There are 7 billion people, after all. That's a lot of name combinations and a lot of repeats. 

I started by researching extinct or endangered surnames. There are actually a lot of these, especially in the UK (the trend of dying or extinct surnames is probably going to become a thing of the past in the West, since marriage and the traditional transfer of surnames from husband to wife, father to child, is becoming less popular). I discovered the last name Gastrell was reported to have only "27 surviving persons with this name". Wow. That's pretty small. I already knew I wanted the first name Lydia, since I have always thought it was beautiful name and rolls off the tongue easily. So...Lydia Gastrell? Was there one? Damn! Yes, there was!
But, the last known recording of that name (at least according to the almighty Google Machine) was a church register from 1791, indicating that a widow, one Lydia Gastrell, married and became Lydia Gastrell Thomas. Yes! A name that had no recorded use since the 18th century? Oh, I could do that =D 
**the picture shows a house in Bath, UK, where the original Lydia Gastrell lived after remarrying in 1791. 

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