In July 1999, Tollemache descendant, Robert Maxtone Graham, noticed a short letter in The Times newspaper in which a Miss P.B. stated that her grandfather had once been asked to baptise a baby with the name 'Zeppelin'. She closed her letter with "I am happy to say that his persuasive powers saved the unfortunate infant from the appellation." Robert, knowing of a rather more exotic family naming story, replied a couple of days later, as follows:
"Sir, Your correspondent's [grandfather], as a clergyman, persuaded a couple not to name their baby "Zeppelin" ... but no one dissuaded my kinsman, the Rector of South Witham, Lincolnshire, from naming most of his 14 children in a way which some would have found even more awkward.
After giving his eldest son the family name of Lyonel, he played variations on that theme - Leo, Leone and Lyonulph for some boys; Lyonesse, Lyona, Lyonella and Lyonetta for the last four girls - mostly with a clutch of "historic" middle names.
One son went to live in New Zealand, improbably burdened with 16 forenames. He was my distant cousin, born Lyulph Ydwallo Odin Nestor Egbert Lyonel Toedmag Hugh Erchenwyne Saxon Esa Cromwell Orma Nevill Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache. (1876-1961)."
Robert was well-informed and, put to it, could have added further examples of this family naming pattern. In his extensive collection of family papers is a cutting from 1917 with this sad - but equally bizarre - announcement:
Susan is a direct descendant of the Reverend Ralph Tollemache and has been kind enough to donate further material - together with some explanations concerning this family line - with a photograph of the Reverend Ralph Tollemache himself - grouped with some members of his second family, including the young Leone. Use the gold button adjacent to access this information.
Susan writes: "Among the things I have is a damaged postcard with a faded photo of the original cross put on my grandfather's grave. The photograph [accompanying images are computer enhanced] has a bone-chilling air to it that the sterile, white stone that replaced it lacks. The black "skeletons of crosses" in the background show the real horror that was 1917 ...
Click on the postcard image for further details and for the poignant diary entries that track the last few weeks in the life of Susan's grandfather.
Writiing iin May 2004, Susan adds:
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