In order to find an unusual name to meet this week’s challenge, I have had to go back to the 17th Century. All my ancestors seem to have very solid Anglo-Celtic names, with many first names handed down from generation to generation according to common family naming patterns. So who did I find to meet this challenge? My 6 x great grandmother, born in Bremhill, Wiltshire in 1658 and named Frizwith Crumpe. Her mother was also named Frizwith.
Frizwith is one of the variations on the name Frideswide. It is a form of the Old English name Friðuswīþ (Frithuswith), composed of the elements frið“peace, tranquillity, security, refuge,” and swið “strong, mighty, powerful.”
Having not heard this name before it needed a little research to find that they were named after Saint Frithuswith. The name became known thanks to St Frideswide (also known as Frithuswith, Frideswith, Frevisse and Fris) who was reputed to have been the daughter of a king of Mercia in the 8th century. Fleeing from an overzealous suitor, Frideswide founded a convent in Oxford. The church later became a cathedral — which we now know as Christ Church Cathedral, She is the patron saint of Oxford.
There are a number of stories about her life and she was well regarded and revered until the time of the Reformation. With Protestants discouraging the veneration of saints, St Frideswide disappeared from popular knowledge.
Maybe I should be thankful that this was one name that was not handed down through the family regardless of how saintly she was!