Archive for the ‘birthday’ Tag

Happy Birthday to Amadis Surflen born 1784

This is the first post of a series, where I introduce some of my past relatives on their birthdays.

Amadis Surflen was born on 13th October 1784, in Margate, Kent, the son of Edward Surflen (1752-1797) and Ann Humbel (c1758- after 1809).

I don’t know anything else about Amadis Surflen – not even if he survived childhood. I have found references to an Amadis Surflen operating a bathing machine at Margate in The Times newspaper, but I think this probably refers to an Amadis born in 1746.

Amadis is clearly a family name. I have three records of the name across three generations: Amadis Surflen b1746; Amadis Surflen b1784; & Edward Amadis Nevill b1813 (son of Mary Ann Surflen).

So in the absence of any knowledge about the man Amadis Surflen, what about that name?

Starting simply, Amadis means ‘love of God’.

Deeper than this, where did the name come from? The main reference I can find is to a wildly popular 14th/15th century portugese/spanish tale of a knight errant ‘Amadis de Gaula’. This well-known tale of chivalric romance is apparantly referred to repeatedly in ‘Don Quixote’ by Cervantes, as “the character Don Quixote idolizes Amadís, and often compares his hero’s adventures to his own” (quote from Wikipedia article on Amadis de Gaula).

Massenet wrote an opera ‘Amadis’ based on the story, and Goethe wrote a poem in 1775, ‘The New Amadis’.

Picture me now, imagining a Surflen ancestor revelling in the romance and heroism of Amadis de Gaula and inspired to name a son… it’s probably more prosaic than that, but I can dream 😉

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