Nicknames in Edwardian Age

Status
Not open for further replies.
I thought this might be the best place to put this thread. I was wondering if nicknames were a common fashion back in the Edwardian Age. One case I know of is Douglas Spedden calling his nurse Muddie Boons. Was this a unique case or did it happen quite often? If so, what was a common nickname for Robert besides Bob (not that I have anything against Bob, Bob)
 
I've never been anything but Bob, Ben! Nicknames, along with 'familiar' forms of given names (which is what I think you have in mind) were just as popular then as now, maybe more so. It seems to me that nowadays a lot of people with names like William or James strongly object to being called Bill or Jim, for instance. Lord knows why - maybe they regard those old familiar names as uncool. And Jack, a name which was once commonly adopted by those christened John (like Jack Thayer), seems to be falling out of favour too.

Apart from the obvious Bob and Bobby, a Robert might be known as Rob or (in Scotland) Rab or Rabbie. Robbo is not unknown, but that one's too recent for 1912.
.
 
Whilst nicknames are still popular, they are now generally specific to an individual, whereas in the past they were often generic. If you joined the British army in either of the World Wars and you were the only Scotsman in your unit, you would be 'Jock' whether you liked it or not. If Welsh, you would be 'Taffy', if Irish 'Mick', etc. If your surname was White you were doomed to be known as 'Chalky', if it was Miller you'd be 'Dusty' and so on. And there would always be a 'Lofty', a 'Curly', a 'Ginger' etc. Nowadays many people would protest at having such nicknames foisted upon them, but in those days they were generally cheerfully accepted.
 
Also consider the example of Charles Lightoller. His friends and shipmates called him "Lights" on occasion, so nicknames derived from actual names (not abbreviations, such as "Bob" or "Ben" for Robert and Benjamin respectively) were apparently bestowed on individuals as well, although it might not have been as common as it is today.

I am sometimes addressed as "Hoppy," from my surname "Hopkins," which is common. My father, before he died, was addressed the same way.

By the way, I read this somewhere--and someone please tell me if I'm wrong--but wasn't Boxhall at times called "Boxie"?
 
And of course the same person might have different familiar names or nicknames depending on who was addressing him/her. Charles Herbert Lightoller was 'Lights' to his fellow officers but 'Herb' to his wife.
 
>>but wasn't Boxhall at times called "Boxie"?<<

First I've ever heard of that one if it's true. Perhaps one of the people who researches the officers can shed some light on this one.
 
I know I read or heard it somewhere, Mike. *shrugs* Maybe it was a casual tag used only by the person who had written the passage in which I read it.

Whatever.
 

Inger Sheil

Member
By the way, I read this somewhere--and someone please tell me if I'm wrong--but wasn't Boxhall at times called "Boxie"?
Boggle goes the mind. If Boxhall was ever called "Boxie", I've never heard of it. Nor have his family ever suggested to me that he was a "Boxie". "Joe", yes. Boxie...never heard of it.

James Moody's family all had endearing nicknames for each other. James was also known as "Jim" to his shipmates. Harold Lowe, according to his son, was always an emphatic "Harold". However, I have found an instance very early in his career when a "Harry" slipped in.
 
Jack is still popular somewhat on this side of the pond as a given name. My great uncle Jack got his name from The Kid because he had a resemblance to Jackie Coogan. His given name was Henry Damillo Auwater but his Parents saw The Kid and started calling him their little Jackie before he could walk and talk. In Fact my Grandmother told me when he Graduated there was a mini Drama in the Family because Graduation Diploma's tend to list formal names so the School used Uncle Jack's legal name of Henry which he'd never remember being called by. So the School re-did the Diploma to say his Formal name plus "Jack".
 
Also the occupational "Sparks/Sparky" nickname for a wireless operator.

My parents' friends acquired nicknames in their youth that stuck through their lives - for some it was probably because their first and last names were the same. eg. John Smith [not their real name]. One was called "Muscles" because he lifted weights. The other was called "Banana" because of his long nose. My father was "Joe", after the comedian Joe Penner.

I've read - somewhere, I think it was in a book of Canadian lawyers' humourous anecdotes titled "Court Jesters" - that close knit Maritime communities have clan nicknames. eg. If your great-grandfather was known as "Whistling" McKenna because he always whistled, then you would be John "Whistling" McKenna or "John Whistling". Your distant cousin may be Keith "Snorer" [McKenna] I suppose it happens when large families stay in the same place.
 
I don't know about clan nicknames but onboard ship, sailors have no difficulty coming up with nicknames for each other. On my first ship, I was known as "Flash" because of the heavy flashlight I got into the habit of carrying. That thing came in handy at times.
 
Michael

It's convenient to SAY it's because of a flashlight. But I think we should ask for proof. You KNOW how you navy types are!!

<grin>
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top