Saturday, 26 January 2013

Surname Saturday- Lefridge

Henry and Sidney Lefridge as teenagers., c.1917
When my grandmother was born in North London in 1932, she automatically joined an exclusive club: the Lefridge family. Only her parents, grandparents, and her uncle and his family shared her surname, in the entire country. But where did this unusual name come from? Her father, as his before him, had been born Henry Lefcovitch on the 26th May 1900, but his father Nathan may already have started to go by Nathan Lefridge. Henry's younger siblings, Sidney and Gladys, known as Galla, had been registered at birth as Lefridge, despite it not being their father's legal name. This was legal in the United Kingdom, where your name is what people called you, not what was written on a document! However, in First World War, xenophobic, and especially anti-German, feeling led many Jewish families to change their names officially by deed poll: Nathan (and Henry) did this in 1915. 

Nat Lefridge and his wife Elsie, on holiday in 1932.

However, the name of Lefridge was destined not to last. Henry and Sidney both had daughters, all of whom married and changed their names. Consequently, when Henry's wife Millie died in 1987, the family name died out, having officially existed only sixty two years. Though they were a small family, my grandmother still remembers her maiden name fondly: owing to its rarity, it is very useful for making dinner reservations!

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