Friday, 7 February 2014

The Naming Of Names

Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made a speech, said to the emotional case, on the independence referendum in Scotland.  This was at one of the 2012 Olympic venues at Wembley, the Velodrome for cycling.  It is for the kind of cycling race where you go round, if not in circles, then in a sort of oval.

Cameron, for those in foreign fields, is a distinctive Scots name, one of a famous Clan with many septs.  In the case of our PM it is said that his forebear was a humble crofter who descendants made good in the Union and left for England.  A couple of canny marriages added extra genes as well as more money.  A Royal forbear entails a Stuart ancestry. 

In England there has never been a King David, although there has been in Scotland.  There are David's in Wales whose Patron Saint is a David.  This kind of interchange is only to be expected in an archipelago such as the Atlantic Isles where long coastlines and internal waterways have enabled movement.

The response of Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, is a joke that Cameron should confine himself to bothering about the Somerset Levels.  At one level this is a cheap shot, on another nasty.  This is a disaster with many human tragedies involved. 

Why Salmond suggests it is funny because it is in England when he would not dare to say the same in the case of other disasters elsewhere is indicative of a lack of moral perspective. This is in line with his casual attitude in my purely personal opinion to violence, threats and the rest that amount to condoning them.

There is a Scottish dimension to Somerset.  Lord Chris Smith, the head of the Environmental Agency whose policy was to drown the Levels was educated at the George Watson's College in Edinburgh, almost within spitting distance of Holyrood.  It is fair to assume some Scots blood there somewhere. 

The MP for the Somerset Levels, who uncharitably wants to put Smith's head down the toilet and pull the flush is Ian Liddell-Grainger of a landed Scots Berwickshire family with a substantial Scottish and Royal ancestry going back to the Stuarts.

So what of our Ultra Scot Salmond?  According to some sources this name has Anglo-Saxon origins.  Also, his mother was a Milne and similar sources suggest also a Saxon origin for the name.  Perhaps their forebears came up the Rhine on the same boat in the ninth century and finished up in Scotland because of an error in navigation, they were really looking for Essex.

More seriously, as any family historian knows as you track back and the number of ancestors rises sharply from one generation to the next all sorts of unexpected people turn up from many places and with varying beliefs and origins.  Salmond's vision of the ethnic purity of the Scots ancestry may well not apply to him at all.

The Mail recently has been dabbling in the web sites that deal with genealogy and has come up with a number of people who are related who you might not expect to be.  Perhaps their interns could have a look at Salmond's and see who turns up.  It could be fun.

In 1852 the ship, the HMS "Birkenhead", built in 1845 at John Laird's yard in that town, went down with great loss of life.  On the ship were the 74th Highlanders among others, the Wikipedia article gives the details.  It became famous for The Birkenhead Drill where the rule was women and children first to the boats while the men stood firm.

The ship had struck a rock in uncharted waters off the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.  Captain Robert Salmond RN who organised the drill, went down with his ship.  Throughout the Victorian age and after the tragedy was a noble example to all.

As the SNP go into uncharted waters if Scotland's ship of state goes down you can be sure that the SNP will be first to the boats with any loot they can carry cracking jokes about those who are lost.

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