Wednesday, 15 August 2012

What's In A Name?

I've never really liked my first name.. Jan may be a European version of John but I was frequently teased and bullied through my school years for having a girls name. In my adult life I have had much the same. Telephone calls for me asking for Miss or Mrs Jan Frayne are common and the same happens in hospitals etc when my name is called out.

I was going to change it twenty years ago but never got round to it. I changed to Ján for my own use but frequently forget. My name is pronounced Yahn.

Jan is a variant of John in Catalan, Dutch, Scandinavian, Cornish, English, German, Afrikaans, Northern Germanic and Western Slavic Languages (in Slovak, spelled Ján), also a shortened form of Janice or Janet. It also has separate origin in Arabic.

I was named after Jan Masaryk, Czech diplomat and politician and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1940 to 1948. I don't know why. My Mum wanted to call me Guy.

The meaning of Jan is "Chosen one of God sent from above"..

My second name is Lyndon, after the U.S president Lyndon Johnson. The meaning of Lyndon is "of linden (lime) tree hill".

My surname is Old French/Breton in origin. The French meaning is "of the ash tree" whilst the English meaning is "stranger or foreigner"


There are many anglicised versions of the name - Frayne, Frenes, Freyne, DeFrayne, Franey, Freaney, Freeney, Frain, ffrench, Ffrench, French and possibly some more. All these names are the same and have been used, changed and interchanged over the years. All are derivatives of the same name “DeFreine”. Theophilus de Freyne, third cousin to William the Conqueror rode beside his cousin at the Battle of Hastings 1066.

The DeFreines, the ffrenches, and the Frenches, who were of noble blood, came to Ireland with Strongbow during the Norman Invasion of Ireland from 1169 to 1172AD. There were and still are two or three families of Irish peers who carry the names DeFréine, ffrench, and French. As Anglo-Normans the French family became one of the 14 Tribes of Galway, helping to found the town in 1425AD, fortifying it to keep the locals out.

In Wexford the name Franey is common, In Wicklow Freeney / Freney is common and in the Connaught area (Sligo/Galway) Frain, Freine are common. The name is from the French word Frêne which means a wooded place with ash trees indicating that ancestors of that family came from an area noted for its forests. Some sources can even trace the name back to Roman times.

Having traced my family tree back to 1280 the surname has had four changes.

This post will not really be of interest to most people... Guess I'm just trying to make sense of who I am and where I come from.

4 comments:

David pittman said...

ActuallY I enjoyed that...as a history geek, I appreciated learning your history, "namely" speaking! :-) always enjoy or learn or am touched by ur writing...ty jan, or is it john?! ;-)

Pali Raj said...

Hi Jan, I also have a weird name that confuses people but I like my name and I also like it when people call my name in utter confusion thinking that I must be a female. :)

Nova said...

Thanks for this Jan I found it very interesting. I have an unusual name which I used to hate when I was at school and I had to keep explaining the origins. However I now like it because of its originality. I do think that our name does influence the person that we become. It's importance is significant.

Allyson S. French said...

I love it! Thank u for posting! Every bit of information is important.

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