Unusual Surnames

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Vivian Cook

Mostly people accept that surnames may vary in spelling in ways they wouldn't tolerate in other words. Here are some surnames with unusual spellings. The numbers show how many people with that name were found in the UK Electoral Registers for 2001, out of a total of 43.5 million, with a ceiling of 2000+.


Baden-Powell, said as 'pole' 19

Batchelor, not 'bachelor' 2000+

Beauchamp 'beechum' 1405

Belvoir 'beaver' 9

Blenkinsopp 2000

Bohun 'boon' 30

Bottomley 'bumley' (Guardian Diary joke form)

B'stard, TV character

Bucket 'bouquet', TV character

Cholmondeley 'chumley' 105

Colquhoun 'carhoon' 2000+

Dalziel 'die-ell' (Edinburgh) 36

Death 'dee-ath' 228 De-Ath 1085 d'Eath 99 Deeth 94

Farquahar 'farker' 3

Featherstonehaugh 'fanshaw' 17

Ffoulkes 'folks' 154


Ffrangcon 'franken' 0

Frome 'froom' 44

Jekyll 'jee-kill' 21

Keighley 'Keithley' 1234

Keogh 'key-owe' 2000+

Keynes 'kaynes' 159

Knollys 'nowles' 31

Mainwaring 'mannering' 2000+

Marjoribanks 'marchbanks' 133

Menzies 'mingis' 2000+

Psmith ('the p is silent'), P.G. Wodehouse character

Sandys 'sands' 330

St John 'singe-ern' 953

Teatime ('pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh'), Terry Pratchett character

Thorogood 'thoroughgood' 2000+

Urquhart 'erkert' 2000+


Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere, Bart

     As he sat in his study ... a card was brought to him.
     'Sir Jasper ffinch-ffarrowmere, Bart.,' he read. The name was new to him.
...
     'Sir Jasper Finch-Farrowmere?' said Wilfred.
     'ffinch-farrowmere', corrected the visitor, his sensitive ear detecting the capital letters.
     'Ah yes. You spell it with two small f's.'
     'Four small f's.'
...
     'Pooh to you!' said Wilfred.  'And, if you want to know what I think, you poor ffish, I believe your name is spelled with a capital F, like anybody else's.'
     Stung to the quick, the baronet turned on his heel and left the room without another word.

P.G. Wodehouse, Meet Mr Mulliner, 1927

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