What’s in a name?

My surname is quite rare, and I recently discovered that it was used in a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle … who happens to be one of my favourite authors. The story is entitled THE LORD OF FALCONBRIDGE and was published in 1911 in Conan Doyle’s THE LAST GALLEY.

I also discovered that Brian Stableford used my surname for the father and son heroes of his novel THE EMPIRE OF FEAR, which was published in 1988 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (ISBN 0 671 69945 8).

I have a copy of Conan Doyle’s book on my Kindle and recently acquired a second-hand copy of a first edition of THE EMPIRE OF FEAR, which I am looking forward to reading in the very near future.


14 Comments on “What’s in a name?”

  1. Chris says:


    Purely for the sake of curiosity, is your name pronounced Cor-DARE-y, COR-der-y, or Cor-der- EE? I hope to meet you some day, and would just as soon not embarrass myself. Any more than I usually do, I mean.

    Best regards,


  2. Fitz-Badger says:

    That's pretty cool.
    My surname is quite common, so it's not too unusual to encounter it here and there. On the other hand I can't think of anyone really famous who shares the name with me. Seems like it's more of an ordinary everyday name, along with my very common first name that means I encounter instances of people with both my first and last names practically on a daily basis.

  3. Chris,

    In my family we pronounce it 'Cor-Derry' if that is any help.

    I look forward to meeting you someday as well.

    All the best,


  4. Fitz-Badger,

    Having an uncommon surname is a double-edged sword, especially when people have trouble working out how to say it or spell it.

    One thing that the internet has made me aware of is that there are at least two other Robert/Bob Cordery's out there … one of whom is a mountain climber and the other a security expert. I can assure you that I am neither of these two gentlemen … although I have had problems convincing one or two people of that fact in the past!

    All the best,


  5. guy says:

    Fairly frequently I am asked to witness passport applications etc and once in a blue moon the passport people phone up to check it was actually me. A few years back I asked them as an aside how many people in the UK have exactly the same first, middle and surname as me and rather creepily the lady said there were three. I immediately thought some one had done identity fraud on me but the lady said the dates of birth were quite different and they had photos of the three GJB's.


  6. Guy,

    In some ways it is reassuring to know that the authorities know that there are three of you … and can tell the differences between each of you.

    All the best,


  7. Chris says:

    My name is unfortunately quite common. There were at least two other Chris Johnson's in the Federal Agency I worked for, which meant I got their email almost daily. There was also one working for some component of National Security, as I was once asked for my opinion regarding whether the new XMG2Y radar dish should be set up on Mount Such-and-such. I replied that it was just fine by me, but that I was not the guy they wanted an opinion from!

    Moreover, I found out some years ago that my paternal grandfather's last name used to be Boyssen when he emigrated to the US from Denmark around 1900. His parents later gave him up for adoption (!!!), which is how it became Johnson. I figured, great–at least my name wouldn't be so common. But no, an acquaintance in Denmark advised me that Boyssen was as common there as Johnson is here. Oh well.

    Best regards,


  8. Jim Duncan says:

    My name is quite common around the world.

    The most famous of me is mentioned in a cowboy film called 'High Plains Drifter'. Apparently I died rather nastily.

    When I worked in the University of Edinburgh there was another employee named Jim Duncan although he was called 'Jimmy' by his friends.

    Unfortunately Jimmy was also a Grade 1 football referee and I remember getting the occasional irate phone call on a Monday morning. Can't think why!

    There is also another wargamer called Jim Duncan, he seems to be well known in certain gaming circles.

    I continue to be me whoever that is.

  9. Chris Johnson,

    I know of at least one other wargamer with the same name as you … and I know of two wargamers who are interested in Colonial wargaming and who are both named Richard Brooks. Confusing, isn't it?

    I have also been contacted by people who think that I am one of the other Bob Corderys and I have been asked my opinion about such things as climbing a particular mountain.

    Boyssen sounds as if it is an interesting surname, and not one I have heard of before … even when I have been in Denmark.

    All the best,


  10. Jim Duncan,

    As far as I am concerned, there is only one Jim Duncan! (Somehow I can't imagine you being called 'Jimmy'.)

    Mentioned in a cowboy film, eh … and as a bad guy no less. Certainly beats having your surname mentioned in a couple of book … and better than being mistaken for a soccer referee!

    All the best,


  11. Jim Duncan says:

    Hi Bob

    I don't answer to 'Jimmy' and if you call me 'James' you have to buy me a beer.

    You maligned me in my 'cowboy' role. 'Jim Duncan' was a Marshall in High Plains Drifter.


    And, maybe he was a ghost too!


    No offense taken!

  12. Jim Duncan,

    Jim it is then … just as I prefer Bob to Robert. (I was/am only called Robert when I have done something wrong!)

    I must admit that I have not watched 'High Plains Drifter' for years, hence my poor memory of the character with your name.

    All the best,


  13. guy says:

    I am repeatedly called Gary Barlow (ie the singer)instead of Guy Barlow. I can semi live with that but I drew the line some years ago when one client called me Guy Burgess. I pointed out I wasn't a spy and I understood the food in Moscow was pretty rotten. The client got the huff with my joke and complained to the senior partner.


  14. Guy,

    I can sort of understand why people may call you Gary rather than Guy in error, but to get your surname that wrong is unforgivable … and then to take offence – and complain – because you made a comment about the error just compounds the error one hundred-fold.

    That is the sort of client a business can well do without.

    All the best,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s