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What other notable people besides Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington Carver have been intentionally named after someone famous who was not in their family?
December 27, 2010 5:22 PM   Subscribe

George Washington Carver... Martin Luther King Jr.... What other notable/successful folks have been intentionally named after famous people who are not in their family (that is their famous antecedent's first and last name is the "descendant's" given name)?

I can't help but think about how it would be such a burden for a kid to grow up with a name like George Washington (or Ronald Reagan or John Kennedy) today, but apparently this was a common thing back in the day. I got these two Napoleon Bonapartes (though they're not super notable) and Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (which technically doesn't count since he was renamed that only after being adopted by JC), but do any others come to mind? Basically more instances like Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington Carver, especially contemporary ones.

Apparently, GWC himself chose his middle name to be Washington, adding another dimension to the whole being burdened with a great person's name.
posted by jng to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
He doesn't carry both first and last names, but Robinson Canó was named after Jackie Robinson.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:32 PM on December 27, 2010


U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz used to be in the Chicago papers from time to time. Not sure how notable he is, but his name came to mind as soon as I read the question.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:34 PM on December 27, 2010


Another not middle name, but Hilary Clinton was named after Sir Edmund Hilary.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:38 PM on December 27, 2010


Muhammad Ali was originally named Cassius Marcellus Clay after his father, but his father was named after the abolitionist.
posted by weebil at 5:39 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well there are a lot of people named after John Wayne who are famous, if not for particularly good reasons. John Wayne Gacy is probably best known.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:40 PM on December 27, 2010


William Tecumseh Sherman was simply Tecumseh Sherman until his step mother had him baptized William. Tecumseh being the famous chief's entire name.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:41 PM on December 27, 2010


James Dean Bradfield is the lead singer of the Manic Street Preachers.
posted by Chenko at 5:48 PM on December 27, 2010


Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MG's) was named after Booker T. Washington.
posted by Rewind at 5:56 PM on December 27, 2010


Grover Cleveland Alexander
posted by Right On Red at 5:58 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Hilary Clinton was named after Sir Edmund Hilary

According to Wikipedia, this isn't true, although Clinton herself seemed to have believed it was.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:11 PM on December 27, 2010


Dr. D. W. Bliss was one of the physicians who attended President Garfield after the assassination attempt on him and likely caused his death by an unsanitary examination of his bullet wound.

The "D. W." stands for "Doctor Willard"; so he both had the title "Doctor" as a physician and "Doctor" was his first name. I've read two different stories about how he got this name: that as a baby he was delivered by a Dr. Willard who he was then named after, or that he was named after a Dr. Willard who was a president of Harvard and a correspondent of Thomas Jefferson.
posted by XMLicious at 6:14 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If fictional people are okay, there's always Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg and his twin brother Abraham Lincoln Hogg.
posted by elizardbits at 6:30 PM on December 27, 2010


Here's a list of politicians named for famous people.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:58 PM on December 27, 2010


Every guy named Jesus, I assume.
posted by zippy at 7:05 PM on December 27, 2010


Me! My middle name IRL is Che.

It was only a little bit of a burden growing up - mostly at times when people pronounced it "Shay" and asked whether it was a girl's name. As an adult, it's caused me problems with immigration staff at a couple of borders, and solved problems at a couple of others.
posted by Ahab at 7:08 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another Napolean is Florida governor Napolean Bonaparte Broward, namesake of Broward county.

This was a fairly common naming convention in 19th century America. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of Irish-American men born in early twentieth century were named after Robert Emmett, an Irish nationalist martyr who was revered by lots of people in the US who supported Irish independence. Robert Emmett McDonough, after whom the Georgetown Business School is named, would be a good example. So would Broadway conductor Robert Emmett "Bobby" Dolan.
posted by craichead at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2010


John Wesley Powell, explorer of the western US, and John Wesley Hardin, American outlaw, both named for John Wesley, Methodist.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:15 PM on December 27, 2010


My late favorite uncle (married my mother's sister) was noted by everyone who ever met him, and if success can be measured by bringing hope and happiness to one's fellow human beings, he fits your criteria. He was a Southern Baptist minister, but a social liberal true to the old Southern Democrat form and a humanitarian who devoted his entire life to helping others. His name was Benjamin Franklin. We called him 'Frank'.
posted by trip and a half at 7:17 PM on December 27, 2010


Napoleon McCallum , Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Washington Irving.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:25 PM on December 27, 2010


Fictional character with two:

Benjamin Franklin Pierce (Hawkeye from M*A*S*H)

founding father / 14th president
posted by sandra_s at 7:27 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


John Wilkes Booth was named after John Wilkes, an English politician. Booth's father and brother were both named Junius Brutus Booth after Marcus Junius Brutus.
posted by weebil at 8:07 PM on December 27, 2010


Well, kinda, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, named for The Prophet (peace be upon him), and Ali, the son-in-law of The Prophet (pbuh).
posted by orthogonality at 8:24 PM on December 27, 2010


Thomas Jefferson Jackson See
posted by orthogonality at 8:27 PM on December 27, 2010


Woodrow Wilson Guthrie
posted by custard heart at 8:56 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


John Marshall Harlan
posted by foursentences at 9:01 PM on December 27, 2010


Winfield Scott Hancock (Civil War general) named after Winfield Scott (Mexican War/Civil War general)
posted by BradNelson at 9:50 PM on December 27, 2010


German playwright Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Wedekind. His father was named Friedrich Wilhelm Wedekind, after the Kaiser.
posted by expialidocious at 10:54 PM on December 27, 2010


Yes, no one's said mine yet! Fatty Arbuckle's name was Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle, after my favourite person ever, Roscoe Conkling.

XMLicious, I think Doctor was a fairly common name in the 19th century.
posted by Put the kettle on at 11:54 PM on December 27, 2010


Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
posted by stubby phillips at 5:52 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, named by his communist father after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
posted by elgilito at 7:44 AM on December 28, 2010


Tupac Amaru Shakur.
posted by box at 11:26 AM on December 28, 2010


Although it's not about notable people, this feature might be interesting to you.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So many good ones! Thanks everyone for your help with this. Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Tupac Amaru Shakur, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (though FSK was apparently a distant relative), and Booker T. Jones made me grin especially widely. And I loved the NYT story Ashley801. Fascinating!
posted by jng at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2010


XMLicious, I think Doctor was a fairly common name in the 19th century.

Huh. Yeah, it looks like there are many instances of it. One of the stories that attributed his name to the physician who attended his mother at birth was out of an 1881 NY Times, though; so it seems feasible that even then the name could be after someone with the academic title.
posted by XMLicious at 5:09 PM on December 28, 2010


Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was related to Francis Scott Key so this one doesn't count.
posted by bijou243 at 6:44 PM on December 28, 2010


XMLicious, my paternal grandfather's name was 'Doctor Thaddeus [lastname]', and he was indeed named after the small-town physician who delivered him. Everyone called him 'Doc' his whole life.

He himself never got an advanced degree, but today my dog is named 'Doctor' after him, so the tradition sort of continues.
posted by trip and a half at 5:52 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


William Jefferson Clinton (Bill Clinton)
posted by John Cohen at 10:32 PM on February 6, 2011


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