Names

I’ve been doing some sleuthing, and furthermore, some drawing of conclusions. And here’s what I’ve sleuthed out: the names of Mr Darcy’s parents. Monumental, no? Cause they’re not just Mr & Mrs Darcy, nope. They are (drumroll, please): Mr George Darcy, and Lady Anne Darcy, née Fitzwilliam.

How do I conclude that, you ask? (Well, maybe you don’t. Then you can stop reading. But if you’re interested, read on.) There are a number of clues.

For Lady Anne Darcy, Wickham gives that name to Elizabeth early in the book. Lady Anne Darcy and Lady Catherine de Bourgh are sisters. Also, Colonel Fitzwilliam, another nephew of Lady Catherine’s, is introduced as the younger son of Darcy’s uncle, Lord ___ (Austen never tells the name, because she didn’t want to make up a fictitious Lord, and couldn’t very well use the name of an existing one. She does the same with any military regiment, it’s always the _th Foot, or something). So, Lady Anne, Lady Catherine, and Lord ___ were siblings. The ___ is the title of nobility, which wasn’t necessarily the same as the family name; the latter was obviously Fitzwilliam, not only because of Colonel Fitzwilliam, but also because “our” Mr Darcy has it for his first name. Son named after mother’s family, see? So his mother was a Lady Anne Fitzwilliam before her marriage.

Now, I was just going to tell you my brilliant deductions of why I think Lord ___ was an earl (it has to do with Lady Anne Darcy being called “Lady”, even though she only married a Mr., which means she brought the title with her into her marriage. The children of a peer below the rank of earl are only “the Honourable”, not Lords and Ladies, and above an earl Lord ___ would have to be a marquis or duke, and even Austen might have mentioned that). Then I noticed that Colonel Fitzwilliam says flat-out that he’s the younger son of an earl. D’uh. Wasted brilliance.

However, Mr Darcy Senior’s first name, that really is sheer deductive reasoning. You see, the clues are Wickham, and Darcy’s sister. The one, his godson, is called George, the other, his daughter, Georgiana. Godfathers and godmothers very often gave their names to godchildren (which probably means that Lady Anne Darcy was godmother to Lady Catherine’s daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh. And, there, see – daughter of a baronet or knight, Sir Lewis, she’s only a “Miss”, not a “Lady”). And children were also often named after their parents – for example, Jane Austen’s sister was called Cassandra after their mother, one of her brothers George after their father. And seeing as the Darcys had given their only son the noble name of his mother’s aristocratic family, it’s likely they found a use for papa’s first name in christening their daughter, don’t you think? Well, I do, anyway. Ergo, Mr George Darcy.

Now, to my great regret, I’ve never been able to sleuth out Colonel Brandon’s first name, as there are absolutely no clues to it in Sense and Sensibility. (No, it’s not Christopher. That was made up by Emma Thompson for the 1995 movie.) All the other heroes (and anti-heroes) are christian-named: Henry (Tilney), Edward (Ferrars), John (Willoughby), Charles (Bingley), Fitzwilliam (Darcy), George (Wickham), Edmund (Bertram), Henry (Crawford), George (Knightley), Frederick (Wentworth). If you add in Catherine Morland’s brother James, you’ve got all the names of Austen’s six brothers covered off, with the exception of Francis, which never appears in any of the books. Francis? Sure, why not? Colonel Frank Brandon. Works for me.

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One thought on “Names

  1. Great close reading…reminds me of the sleuthing done to identify characters in other works; Constance Rooke (in Fear of the Open Heart) suggests a reading for Offred’s real name in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
    (BTW I am locked out of AU email for the time being, so use that which I’ve given here with my comment until I notify you otherwise.)

    Like

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