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Origins of Zephalonius
October 30, 2012
1:47 pm
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Alice
Glasgow, Scotland
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In the course of my research, I occasionally come across some fairly unusual personal names. I was wondering whether anyone had any thoughts on the origin of the rarest name I've found so far!

When researching Castle Camps (Cambridgeshire), I came across a Zephalonius Hoy (bapt. 1592). Another Zephalonius Hoy was baptised 50 years later, in a nearby village (Gestingthorpe), and was presumably a relative. As far as I can tell, these are the only occurrences of this name in the UK.

I was hoping that someone might have some insight on the origins of this name. The only potential explanation I've seen so far is that an ancestor fought at a battle in Cephalonia in the previous century (http://blog.foxearth.org.uk/20.....there.html). Do you think this is likely/do you have any other explanations?

November 4, 2012
8:23 pm
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FlorenceEliz
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I've just found this post by someone who has the name twice in their family. Not sure if this is the same or another case?
http://archiver.rootsweb.ances.....1192815426

In Suffolk. Possibly an adaptation of similar names? Or even a reault of a mistake/misreading/misspelling! Reminds me of 'Thelonious'.

Such a great find!

November 5, 2012
11:37 am
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Alice
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Thanks Florence, I hadn't seen that page! I would guess he's probably an ancestor of the ones I found, as they seem to be related and the writer's surname is Hoye.

It's interesting that one was known as Zephany; it would be good to know whether it was the older or younger Zephalonius (or perhaps both!) who had that nickname. I agree that it could be a mistake of some kind which has then been passed down. Even if so, it's still intriguing as I didn't find any occurrences of Zephany or Zephaniah in the parish; if Zephalonius is a creative play on these (or a mistake), it's interesting that they chose to base it on a rare name for the area!

January 6, 2013
6:29 pm
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cemc
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Zephalonius might be fairly uncommon, but if you do a search on ancestry.com for Zepha* as christian name it turns up around 2500 references, mainly for Zephariah, Zephania, Zephaniah. Are these similar enough for zephalonius to be considered a variant?

January 7, 2013
8:15 pm
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Alice
Glasgow, Scotland
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Good question - I'm actually not sure! It would certainly account for the Zepha- part of the name if it were a variant. Also, the link which Florence found does say that one of the two name-holders was nicknamed Zephany, so that would make sense with Zephaniah etc. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the origins/linguistic aspect of names to say whether it could legitimately be a variant... If anyone has any knowledge in this area, I'd be immensely interested in their input!

It'd be great to know how this all works together - I'm not aware of -lonius being a particularly common suffix in personal names, and have no idea why the parents would have coined this variant/used an obscure variant which seems to be unattested elsewhere.

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