What’s in a surname? Still smell as sweet?

I’m smiling back now, thinking about an argument I had with my boyfriend… where was it? I think while we were in the queue waiting for our very sexy pizza. It wasn’t an argument really since we’re both still in the honeymoon phase but it gave me pause to think.

He jokingly called me Mrs [insert his surname] to which I was shocked and most vehemently argued against this, stating that I would be retaining my own surname if I ever got married. He didn’t seem too happy about this and in our “joking” banter, carried on arguing with me against the points which I will raise later.

I found myself worriedly compensating, I’m not sure if it was fear of upsetting the harmonious relationship, finding angles and ways of getting around my grand feminist statement. I suggested double-barrelling the children’s surname (or preferably although quite confusing and crazy in retrospect- all the girl’s would have my surname and boy’s would have his). Even worse was considering that I keep my surname for “professional/work purposes” and change it for family use only. It was an interesting moral and philosophical dilemma, I as a modern feminist had found myself in.

Surnames have always been a place of intrigue for me. I’ve been a history and medieval buff, become obsessed with the European lineage system and researched the genealogy of my family.  Perrett is English in origin and the earliest findings of the name were in Pembrokeshire where the Perretts were granted the lands of Ystington, Haroldston and Carew castle by King William (the conqueror) for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066AD. I think that is beyond epic having some war credits to my history (please bear with me; I’ve just been watching a JRR Tolkien marathon). Despite it being considered an English name, the French ties to it are very strong. It could be a synonym for the biblical “little peter” but it was also considered a nickname for someone who was very talkative and who chatted, very much like a parrot.

My family motto: Am out invenio/ I love as I Find


Carew Castle


Carew Castle- aerial view

              My surname is something very precious to me. And despite my feminist tendencies of wishing to retain my surname it steems from a very partiarchal origin. I am my father’s eldest child and one of two daughters, he never had any sons. I see myself as the eldest son who must carry the Perrett torch and bring pride and honour to the family name. My father always lectured me wistfully about wishing to see the Perrett name in lights, or on a building somewhere. It would be so sad for me to see the Perrett name become extinct, it is so unique and beautiful and filled with history. Being coloured, I’m from a varied family history and tracing my origins is a lot more difficult than the western geneology reports or through the clan names in African tradition. Being a Perrett forms the basis of my identity, it is who I am and provides me with a sense of belonging. I am uneasy to see that change.


Ms Perrett


Perrett family Coat of Arms


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