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French and Dutch Pirate Names
March 3, 2006 4:16 PM   Subscribe

I need a two fictitious pirate captain names: one French, one Dutch

I am writing a story that will involve pirates and I need two good authentic-sounding pirate captain names. One French, one Dutch. Unfortunately, neither my Dutch nor my French is very good. Help me out? I will credit whomever thinks of the ones I use.
posted by jlstitt to Writing & Language (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dutch: Ward de Deryckere (Ward is short for Edward)
French: Nicholas La Gardière

(just off the top of my head)
posted by ruelle at 4:22 PM on March 3, 2006


French names are cool. Jacques Boudreaux? Achille Lemaire? Jean-Baptiste Delacroix?
posted by Gator at 4:27 PM on March 3, 2006


Emil Tudaefort
Arent Usyllje
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:32 PM on March 3, 2006


I'm having too much fun with the French names. Philippe de Saint-Cecile? Christophe Michaud? Bastien de Saint-Etienne?
posted by Gator at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2006


What period are you thinking of here? 17th century? What is "authentic" will vary depending on period.
posted by litlnemo at 4:38 PM on March 3, 2006


Do the porn name thing. Think of a common first name, and the name of a random street in France or the Netherlands (use Google Maps for reference).

Phillippe St. Germaine
Adriaan Ruijterweg
posted by frogan at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2006


Edouard Gauthier? Gaston Pelletier? Donatien Olivier? Guillaume Prouix?

Do you want names that will kind of reflect the characters'...characters?
posted by Gator at 4:59 PM on March 3, 2006


Ward de Deryckere is not Dutch. At least not from Holland. Ward Deryckere (without the 'de') could be Flemish.
If you had an English name, people could make an approximate translation (it's 2AM here, I'm afraid my creativity is gone).
posted by davar at 5:06 PM on March 3, 2006


The problem with that, frogan, is that you can end up with a version of "John One Way Only" or "Steve Dead-End." Not that the latter wouldn't be great for a pirate, actually. . . .

In my head, French pirates are always Jean; I'm guessing it's because of Jean Lafitte.

With that in mind: Jean la Bâtarde? Jean le Trompeur? Jean le Despoiler des Vierges? --What? I think it's more fun when names mean something, that's all. Okay, fine, maybe you don't: Jean Girard? Claude Lefèvre? Michel Roux?
posted by booksandlibretti at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2006


Guillaume Pompt-du-Pompt
posted by iamcrispy at 5:15 PM on March 3, 2006


Dutch: Cornelius Van't Hoff Don't have a French name for you, sorry.
posted by Fat Guy at 5:16 PM on March 3, 2006


OK, still assuming that it's a 17th century pirate name you want, you might look at this page linking to lists of New Amsterdam immigrants in the 17th century. The Dutch names there should be period-correct. You might just mix and match given names and surnames. (Warning: some of the surnames are based on English or American placenames and you would want to avoid these for a native Dutch name.)

Note about Dutch names: you'll see a lot of old names in the records that look like "Laurensz", "Jansz", etc. These are abbreviated names. This page explains how that works and how the full names should be written out.

Regarding French, here are a couple of links to names of the 17th century: Names from Artois, 1601, and Walloons and French, 1621. Both of these lists will have some Dutch influence, too.
posted by litlnemo at 5:18 PM on March 3, 2006


Beau Poitrine (tip of the tricorne to Patrick Dennis)
Rogier van de Zeerover
posted by rob511 at 5:24 PM on March 3, 2006


And my suggestions, drawn from those sources:

Claes Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen (or just Claes Gerritszoon, who would have been Claes Gerritsz in writing, or just Claes van Sevenhuysen)
Jean Bonenfant
posted by litlnemo at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2006


Jaap van Dyck
Wim van Wurm

Jacques Stroppe
Denis Mainasse
posted by Rumple at 6:08 PM on March 3, 2006


Barbe-Rouge :) yarrr! well you can't use that one actually, it's taken. Rackham le Rouge too.

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_de_pirates_célèbres

Hmm.. out of my head, maybe something like Henri le Terrible? Actually, pretty much any name would sound correct.
posted by a007r at 6:36 PM on March 3, 2006


French: Frederic (with accent mark on the i) Champagne
Dutch:Dirk van der Kroft
I would also go with pr0nish sounding names. It depends on how cheesy a pirate novel you are making and how seriously you take your self.
posted by Suparnova at 6:38 PM on March 3, 2006


"I am writing a story that will involve pirates and I need two good authentic-sounding pirate captain names."

So why are so many people suggesting going the porn-name route? Or suggesting punnish names? The questioner didn't suggest that it is a satire or comedy at all. Many of the names people are suggesting would immediately jump out at me as "fake" if I were reading a story.

(Of course, that happens in most historical fiction I read... it seems that many authors don't really research the names as well as they research other aspects of the story.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:41 PM on March 3, 2006


Roderik de Vriis - Dutch

Francois Canard - French.

Just off the top of my head.
posted by gergtreble at 6:44 PM on March 3, 2006


Further thought -- I think the questioner needs to give us more detail. I have been thinking along the lines of just a normal name that a Dutch or French person would have -- but did he have in mind a nickname of sorts, like "Bluebeard," etc.?
posted by litlnemo at 6:45 PM on March 3, 2006


French: Bernard Blaquière
Dutch: Kakkerlak van Velde ( first name is a translation of cockroch, surname of olympic speed skater)
Henri van der Tramp
posted by Suparnova at 6:48 PM on March 3, 2006


So why are so many people suggesting going the porn-name route?

I wasn't trying to be funny or sarcastic at all. Although the point about "John One Way" is valid, street names are generally named after people, places or things. Plus, the randomness factor ensures you're not consciously creating a pun or choosing a name based on how it sounds to you. "Porn-name" comes from the internet meme that you can generate said name by using a street name.

So, step off, chump.

OK, now I being sarcastic. ;-)
posted by frogan at 7:27 PM on March 3, 2006


Suparnova: no accent on the i in French. It would be Frédéric.

I agree: tell us about the pirates' personalities and more about your story.
posted by librarina at 8:13 PM on March 3, 2006


Heh. When doing the last name = street name thing, be careful. In Dutch a lot of words are glued together, inluding the terms for street and road.

Adriaan Ruijterweg actually says Adriaan Ruijter Road. All the other pirates would have laughed at him!

For last names for Dutch pirates the above linked registry of 17th century immigrants is a good source. For first names, not so much. They all have their "official" names listed there, and I doubt a pirate would use his full first name. Instead of "Cornelius", he would have been "Cor" or "Korneel". Instead of "Adriaan", he would have been "Arie".

Double last names ("Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen") are/were used in nobility, not so much for pirates. (It could be Lord Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen. It sounds VERY fancy.)

This page with a kids class project on pirates mentions names of real 16th century Dutch pirates: Symon de Danser (Simon the Dancer) who was nicknamed "kapitein duivel" (captain devil), and Grote Pier (Big Pier).
From Simon's name you can easily make a similar name using "[first name] de [cool action]er".
posted by easternblot at 8:32 PM on March 3, 2006


Just to clarify, I wasn't kidding either with the Jean le Trompeur (Jean the Deceiver) and similar stuff. It follows the pattern of Ivan the Terrible, Louis le Gros, and all kinds of similar names -- in fact, there's a word for names like this; I just can't think of it. I don't think it'd seem at all out-of-character for a pirate crew to give their captain a rough-and-ready name like Jean la Bâtarde.

And let's not forget that some pirates did have odd names. Blackbeard? Calico Jack? Captain Kidd?

I do wish we had more information, though. Mostly because it would help with the names, but partly because I'm always ready to hear some more about pirates.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:45 PM on March 3, 2006


For the dutch names litlnemo and easternblot suggestions are best.
Strange considering they are from the north-american continent.
posted by jouke at 10:16 PM on March 3, 2006


While you have names, do you have nicknames? What do the merchants cry out when they see the French/Dutch black flags unfurled?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:22 PM on March 3, 2006


Please do post the names you choose, for a last check if they really sound Dutch/French.

I thought indeed you were looking for something like Bluebeard. That would be Blauwbaard, in Dutch. For a more general last name maybe 'de Ruijter'. I like Easternblot's Arie as a first name for a pirate. Or simply Piet (still a very common name).
posted by davar at 1:26 AM on March 4, 2006


What easternblot excellently said. And davar. You really don't want to go too highbrow with the Dutch guy, as a lot of the upstairs suggestions are. Arie or Corneel sound like excellent first names for a pirate. "De Ruijter", not so much for me, as it invokes Admiraal de Ruijter.

Please do post the names you choose, for a last check if they really sound Dutch/French.

Please do!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:53 AM on March 4, 2006


Also, inspiration.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:55 AM on March 4, 2006


"I wasn't trying to be funny or sarcastic at all. Although the point about 'John One Way' is valid, street names are generally named after people, places or things. Plus, the randomness factor ensures you're not consciously creating a pun or choosing a name based on how it sounds to you. Porn-name' comes from the internet meme that you can generate said name by using a street name."

Yes, I am familiar with the meme. But the thing as, as the "John One Way" example indicates, that structure may not give you a surname that was ever actually used by real people. Since the questioner asked for authenticity, it's probably best to look for real names used by real Dutch and French people and go from there. But some of the suggestions here were for things like "Arent Usyllje" and "Jacque Stroppe" which are... not so real.

"Double last names ("Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen") are/were used in nobility, not so much for pirates. (It could be Lord Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen. It sounds VERY fancy.)"

The 17th century records I cited earlier contained quite a few people with this type of name, and they are not nobility; they appear to just be normal immigrants to the new world from the Netherlands. (Examples include Maurits Jansz van Broeckhuysen who came to America on the Rensselaerswyck as a "farmhand" -- not a noble), All the above name means is Gerrit's son from Sevenhuysen. As opposed to Gerrit's son from another place. There's no indication that this type of name indicates nobility in these 17th century records, though perhaps it came to mean such in a later period.

Though one might also imagine a black sheep younger son of a noble family becoming a pirate. :)

"For the dutch names litlnemo and easternblot suggestions are best.
Strange considering they are from the north-american continent."


Thank you, jouke. I study naming practices both as a hobby and as part of my official studies, though I admit Dutch and French aren't the specific areas I'm working on.

goodnewsfortheinsane's inspiration sources include a Jan Janszoon van Haarlem -- there's another double surname. Aha! ;) Anyway, what I notice about the names in that list of pirates is that most of them (there are some exceptions) are just normal names (for the given culture). There is nothing weird about them. So just find a name that a normal person would have. Maybe come up with a nickname as well. Maybe your pirate will be, for example, Claes Gerritszoon, but his nickname will be the Dutch equivalent of Red Claes or Dark Claes, etc. To his face, people call him Captain Gerritszoon, but when drunkenly gossiping behind his back -- they tell tales of Red Claes.
posted by litlnemo at 4:38 AM on March 4, 2006


"Just to clarify, I wasn't kidding either with the Jean le Trompeur (Jean the Deceiver) and similar stuff. It follows the pattern of Ivan the Terrible, Louis le Gros, and all kinds of similar names -- in fact, there's a word for names like this; I just can't think of it. I don't think it'd seem at all out-of-character for a pirate crew to give their captain a rough-and-ready name like Jean la Bâtarde."

Just to clarify also, it wasn't your suggestions that were bugging me. ;) You are right -- such a name would probably be quite in character. In many languages such nicknames were the source of many surnames.
posted by litlnemo at 4:42 AM on March 4, 2006


"Double last names ("Gerritszoon van Sevenhuysen") are/were used in nobility, not so much for pirates.

This is true with the "von" in German which carries the same meaning ("from") but "van" in Dutch names is VERY common, not a marker of nobility.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:08 AM on March 4, 2006


jlstitt, any feedback or further information?

dagnyscott, the "von" in German originally didn't indicate nobility either. Originally it just meant, as you might think, "from". So you have a man that appears in the records as Heincz von Buczpach (1390), H. Buczpach (1389), and H. Buczbecher (1388). These were all ways of saying that someone was from Butzbach. Gradually commoners began to drop the "von" but the nobility were more conservative and kept it, so eventually it indicated nobility. This process wasn't complete until the late 17th century.
posted by litlnemo at 4:16 PM on March 5, 2006


For the dutch names litlnemo and easternblot suggestions are best.
Strange considering they are from the north-american continent.


I just live here, I'm actually Dutch.
posted by easternblot at 5:52 PM on March 5, 2006


Thank you everyone for the fantastic comments!

I will give a bit of background about the requirements. The story is actually a series of stories, which are historical fiction based on the struggle for control of the Caribbean island of St. Martin (English spelling), in the 1630s-ish.

These two are main characters representing each side and I would like to be quite authentic on their cultural influences, including, as requested in this thread, their names.

So, to this end, yes the names are to be rather serious but that does not mean their character is. Pirates are a bit of fun but nobody's mother names them One-Eyed Philippe :)

If anyone is interested, I will also post the URL for the stories.
posted by jlstitt at 11:58 AM on March 6, 2006


Please do!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:34 PM on March 6, 2006


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