My name is Will Myddelton, but you won’t find any other Myddeltons in my family except my brother. Why? Because my mum and dad made a stand against centuries of tradition when they named us.
They felt that, women and men being equal, it wasn’t right to name me after a distant ancestor on my dad’s side. So they decided not to call me Haynes after my dad. They could have named me Welch after my mum, but this rights one wrong with another. (And my mum’s name came from her dad originally too).
Double-barrelled surnames bring their own problems. Welch-Haynes or Haynes-Welch? What happens when two people with double-barrelled surnames have their own childen? Four surnames is ridiculous, which takes you back to the problem of choosing which name is more important.
So they sidestepped the whole issue and named me after the location where I was born and grew up. I became Will Myddelton from Myddelton Square.
Frequently answered questions
We all know you can choose whatever first name you like for your child. But the surname convention is so deeply ingrained that you’re probably wondering if you’re allowed to change it.
You can call your child whatever you like, surname included.
You might ask whether having a different name from my parents makes me feel less close to them. Plenty of others have. But I feel close to my mum and dad because, well, they’re my mum and dad.
The most difficult question you can ask me is what I’ll call my own children. When I was younger I liked the idea of starting a Myddelton dynasty. Now I’m less sure. Some friends of mine changed their names when they had kids so that their whole little family started afresh with a new surname. I like that.
A New River runs through it
But the thing I love most about my name is it connects me to where I’m from.
Myddelton Square is named after Hugh Myddelton, who built the New River to bring clean water to London in the early 1600s. The New River flows from Amwell Springs near Hertford into Clerkenwell. And I’ve never lived far away.
I grew up where it terminates at the New River Head, shared a house close to its course through Clissold Park, lived near to it in Finsbury Park and now my flat in Haringey is less than 200 metres away from its sluggish flow.
Instead of making me feel alienated, my name connects me to my city.
I love a well-designed taxonomy
There are people who think that what my parents did was pointless, even stupid. The political-correctness-gone-mad brigade mostly.
I think it was an extraordinary and beautiful thing to do.
My mum and dad made a political statement about our society while hurting no one, least of all me. And my information architect side is proud that not only did they recognise how important names are, they sat down together and worked out a system that solved the design problem they faced. Perfectly.
I’ve been answering questions about this my whole life, so if there’s anything else you want to know feel free to ask me on @myddelton.