For years, I’ve told people the two things I knew about my surname—(a) It’s English and (b) it means “tree topper.” It gave me a little satisfaction to think of my solidly blue-collar roots. Other research shows my ancestors to have been among the early inhabitants of this country, as one Robert Pollard, II, was born in Devon, England, in 1610 and died in King and Queen County, Virginia, in 1668. Anne Pollard was the first female to step foot on Boston’s shores (info from Maurice J. Pollard’s The History of the Pollard family in America, 1961). You’ll find Pollards in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War (Asa Pollard was “the first man to fall at Bunker Hill”), and the Civil War (Pollard Genealogy, Stephen Pollard, 1902, p. 3ff, via babel.hathitrust.org). As pride swells, I drive by ancestry.com only to find earlier history. The name is actually Irish, dating back to the 14th Century, and it was a “nickname for a person with a large or unusually shaped head.” Wow. Not that I don’t know that from trying on hats my whole life. In my case, try freakishly huge melon. I’m extra-Pollard!
So, I maintain a mixture of pride and humility as I trace my name back through history. That is due to more than etymology. If I look hard enough at genealogy, I’ll find some Pollards who make me proud and some that make me ashamed that we share the same last name. Even in contemporary times with Pollards I know I’m related to, this will be the case.
Solomon wrote, “A good name is better than a good ointment” (Ecc. 7:1a). He said, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth” (Prov. 22:1a). That gets more personal. When people hear my name, they have distinct, specific thoughts about my character, my nature, and my reputation. Over a lifetime, there have been people who have known me who may have a bad taste in their mouths when they say my name. Occasionally, as I’ve dealt with people in customer service situations, my name might not be the sweetest on their lips. When I think of my failure to be an example as a Christian before the world, going back to days when I was in school, my name did not always have a true association with the name of Christ.
What does your name mean? What does your name mean to the people you work with, go to school with, do business with, and live near? What does your name mean to the people who know you best? We wear the name of Christ, as Christians, and we must strive to honor that great name! He’s counting on us to promote His name through the way we wear our name and His name each day.