Creamaleanous, Orianna, Alphonso, Alonzo, and Van Buren

The first member of the Thompson family I came across was one Creamaleanous.

When I first saw this name, I instantly dismissed it as a mis-transcription, maybe of Christina or Cassandra (believe me I’ve seen worse!). But at a later date when I was going through the names I’d found, I decided to search some records, and found her!

At first I only found her two marriages, but from that I found an 1881 census with an Emily married to a man with the exact same name (George Rushton Woods) occupation and age as C’s husband of the second marriage, which gave her birth place as cumberland, 1855.

On the off chance this was her, I added this information to my search and found her in 1861 and 1871, as Crionelinas and Creameleans respectively.

Unlike most of my people with odd names, C’s brothers and sisters (with the exception of the eldest 3) have equally fantastical ones, such as:

Alphonso Lamartine b.1847,  Orianna Bernadine Carraway leanne b.1855,  Alonzo Leonidas Leavenworth b.1858 and ‘Van Buren’ b.1849!

What is bizarre here is that they seemed to be naming their children after failed presidential candidates, as I can only assume;

Van Buren was named after the US President who failed to be re-elected in 1848 (Apparenlty Van Buren means ‘from the neighbours’ so let’s hope it was that and not the wife trying to tell her husband something!) and;

Alphonse de Lamartine was Minister of Foreign affairs for France and a failed presidential candidate in the same year (1848).

Why a Grocer’s wife in Cumberland would decide on those as her child’s name is beyond me! Perhaps she just read a few newspapers and picked some names she liked the sound of?

This theory is made more likely with Alonzo Leonidas Leavenworth b.1858, as the Leavenworth constitution of 1858, and Leonidas brother of Felice Orsini (who tried to kill Napoleon III) had also made the papers when mentioned in letters by Orsini. What’s strange though is the combination of Leonidas with Alonso also appears across the pond in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana in the 1840’s-60’s – but I can’t find a reason why – answers on a postcard!

Orianna (which incidentally I LOVE, and means sunrise) is harder to decipher the origins of, I think in this case we can safely say it’s an amalgamation of names her parents came across and liked the sound of.

Poor old Anne, Alfred and Eveline (the eledest siblings) must have felt pretty left out! Maybe one or other of their parents learnt to read mid-way through having children, and that explains the sudden increase in what would surely have been then called ‘romantic’ names….

(From the Bradford observer in 1869): 

Apropos of romantic names, I have it from a registrar of great experience that these are enormously affected by the lower orders, who get them from the romances in the penny papers. Their taste in this way, however, generally receives two checks. In the first place, they can seldom pronounce the names they admire; and in the second, they nine times out of ten fail in their efforts to set them down on paper with anything like an approximation to correct spelling. 

The name of the Empress of the French has an enormous fascination for young mothers of romantic views and restricted means. They think Eugénie delicious; nor do they appear conscious that it loses anything of its delicate sweetness when pronounced “You Jenny!”

Personally, I have NO problem with them name Jenny *ahem* but this is in line with the various spellings we have of the Thompson’s names, as where on earth did they get Creamaleanous from?!

I think Creamalanous Euphemia does take the biscuit name wise in the family, as this is truly, erm, ‘unique’!

As I mentioned earlier she married twice, firstly to James Bulfield, a barman, then George Rushton Woods, a Bricklayer, where either he or she decides Emily is far more suitable, or is that less romantic?

Then she turns up in the 1911 census as a patient in Whittingham County Lunatic Asylum.

I briefly thought of this:

‘Euphemia; it isn’t a name common people would give a girl, is it?’
‘It isn’t the name any decent people would give to a girl,’ said Buggins, ‘common or not.’
‘Lor!’ said Kipps. ‘Why?’
‘It’s giving girls names like that,’ said Buggins, ‘that nine times out of ten makes ’em go wrong. It unsettles ’em. If ever I was to have a girl, if ever I was to have a dozen girls, I’d call ’em all Jane. Every one of ’em.”
H. G. Wells     Kipps (1905)

Anyways, this was no ordinary asylum. For a start, it was the largest mental hospital in Britain; it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers. By 1915 the number of inmates was recorded as 2,820 – more than double the asylum’s original capacity. More can be read about it here:

Creamaleanous was admitted on Nov 25 1903, and has some of the least detailed asylum records I’ve ever seen.  despite living with her husband in Fonthill Road, Kirkdale in 1901, she was taken in as a pauper/vagrant, and George’s address in the next of kin space is now just over a mile away from there.

‘Unknown’ is the answer given for whether it’s her first ‘attack’, if she had ever been in an asylum before, or if any other relative is ‘afflicted with insanity’.

It does however say that this ‘attack’ has lasted 2 months, and that she is not suicidal or dangerous.

The ‘Facts observed by’ Nathan Raw, the doctor in charge of her admission, says she is “In a fit of delusion, she imagines she hears her mothers voice continually and goes out for a walk twice daily – which is much time.”

That’s it.

Let’s now remember that 1911 is EIGHT YEARS after this, and there are no additional admissions for her to any asylum to suggest she had left and then been readmitted. She dies in 1917, and I am in the process of waiting for her death record to see whether she ended up dying in the asylum.

It’s as if she was admitted, and then forgotten amongst the literal thousands of other inmates.  I have an inkling that her mother may well have been the sort of character to come back and haunt her children, especially if she felt they weren’t living the life they deserved – but that supposition aside, it does not seem like she was in a condition that could not be treated with the proper care. Of course we don’t know the ins and outs, and you would think with so many brothers and sisters one of them would have taken her in if she was only suffering from a mild delusion, but I suppose I’m looking back with 21st century eyes, where mental illness is not perceived (by all at least) as something scary and uncontrollable.

You can only think that a mother and father who chose such unusual names for their children must have put a lot of thought into them, and that they wanted impressive, respected lives for their children named after well known politicians and Italian nobles. Whilst none of them rose to quite so lofty heights, they became clerks, a confectioner, and a chemist/druggist – and only one has a small stint in jail (Alonzo, a coal miner, jailed for 9 months for unlawful wounding along with 4 others – sounds like some sort of brawl!).

It just goes to show though, fancy long names weren’t appropriated by rich or titled people, like Adrian Aloysius Sherwood Law, Hamilton Matthew Tilson FitzMaurice Deane-Morgan, or Blanche Marie Amelie Caroline Louise Victoria Duc de Nemours… 🙂


2 thoughts on “Creamaleanous, Orianna, Alphonso, Alonzo, and Van Buren

  1. I wonder if there was a food named ‘creamalean…’? I mention this because of a child named ‘lemahnjello’ (emphasis on ‘mah’),,,,Mum has noticed this on the food she was given while in the hospital.

    1. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything after searching for all combinations of parts of the name, except for the obvious ‘Cream’. 🙂
      So.. Lemon Jello? Oh dear!!

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