What’s in a name?

So, the calendar here seems to be telling me that I have about three weeks of pregnancy left. Can that be right? Compared to the first go-round, Pregnancy #2 has gone at approximately the speed of light. We are a little bit behind in the “preparation” department, but the one thing that’s most concerning is the baby name process.  We did some major deliberation to settle on Ransom’s name, and even then, we went into the hospital with a list of ten or so mutually approved names.  We didn’t settle on the final combo until about 3 hours before we checked out of the hospital.

Now, if only I could find that list. But alas, no.

So we are starting from zero with Baby #2, and the current list only has about 4 options on it and none that we’re in love with yet.  The stakes here are so high.  Is your name not one of the most important things your parents give you?  Most people seem to grow right into their names.  Is that because their parents are a little bit psychic or more likely, do their names shape who they become?  Your name certainly influences how other people initially perceive and treat you.  All that to say, this is serious business.

We have some pretty particular criteria in our house:

  • Significance.  We go for names of family members, generally.  Significant Biblical or historical figures could work too, as long as we had a good reason for the choice, a good story behind the name.
  • Unique but still pretty classic.  With a last name like Johnson, its only fair to have a first name that’s somewhat off the beaten path.  Plus, we’re three for three in weird first names, so why stop now?
  • Sounds right.  Yes unique but it still has to sound right in this day and age, you know.  This eliminates a lot of family names – such as Harold, Clarence, Jethro, Thedford, etc.  And then there’s a whole set that just don’t work with Johnson, like John, Johnstone, Magic, and Howard.

So while we continue to ponder the options for the next three weeks, I wanted to take a few minutes to write out the stories behind all of Ransom’s names.

First, Ransom has three given names: Ransom Robert Fletcher.  This triple name tradition started with August’s dad and was passed down to August and then to Ransom. (And is further reason why we need more than four options.)

IMG_9437Nine given names among these three Johnson men

The name “Ransom” comes from Ransom Riley Hall, his 4th-great-grandfather or as I usually say – Ransom’s great-grandmother’s great-grandfather.  In other words, he lived a LONG time ago.  We learned this name when we were digging into Ancestry.com, and I thought it fit the “unique but classic” bill pretty well.  We don’t know much about Mr. RR Hall: he lived in the 1800s and migrated from North Carolina to Alabama while having a whopping sixteen children, all with the same wife.  But his tombstone inscription is what put us over the edge:

R. R. Hall??????????
Born Feb. 19, 1814
Professed hope in Christ, 1822
Married Miss Liddy Roberts
Aug. 15, 1834
Licensed to Preach in 1859
Died Dec. 21, 1889.
A sinner saved by grace.

How cool is it that R.R. Hall (or his children) chose to document those few events as his most important achievements rather than sticking with the usual tombstone “-“?  His hope in Christ, his marriage, and when he became a preacher.  And a proclamation that he was, like me, just a sinner saved by grace.

And also for bonus points, Dr. Ransom is also the name of the protagonist in CS Lewis’s Space Trilogy, great books by my favorite author.

Ransom’s first middle name “Robert” is after my dad, who I have always been very close to.  And to top it off, Ransom actually looks a lot like him.  My dad is named for his uncle Robert, my grandmother’s beloved older brother. That Robert was something of a mountain man in northern California, a great outdoorsman who got in a tangle or two with a grizzly bear but always made it out on top.

grandad 002My grandmother and her brother Robert

grandad 007My grandmother and her son Robert (my dad)

Finally, “Fletcher” is one of August’s middle names, after his grandfather, Hubert Fletcher, after his father, Floyd Fletcher, after his father Richard Fletcher.  That makes five Fletchers in six generations.  I love connecting Ransom  with so many generations of ancestors.

1994 granddadAugust and his granddaddy Hubert Fletcher Carraway

All of these men embody characteristics that we want for Ransom:  men of faith and kindness, lovers of the outdoors, diligent hard workers.  Ransom’s name is perfect for him.

Now the trick is coming up with three more for Baby #2.

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About Mary-Hall

loyal southerner, exceedingly frugal, compulsive DIYer

3 responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Jennifer Taylor says :

    Great post; I loved hearing the stories behind Ransom’s names. It was quite fun to read “Out of the Silent Planet” again for the first time after he was born with a new perspective. 😉

  2. bethanybordeaux says :

    I LOVE this post. I knew the general-ness of the stories behind the names, but had forgotten (or never knew) all the specifics and I loved hearing it all especially with all the old photos. So so cool. I can’t wait to meet baby numero dos. 🙂

  3. Barbara Daniel says :

    I loved reading the history behind your name choices. Has Bethany told you where her name came from? I wish you the best in choosing the right name.
    (Prov. 22:1)

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