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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Earl of Castlehaven

Random Renaissance fact of the day:

The notorious Earl of Castlehaven, whose DNB biography begins by calling him "convicted rapist and sodomite" and whose crimes the Privy Council deemed "too horrid for a Christian man to mention," was named Mervin Touchet. That's right: the most notorious sex offender in early Stuart England was Lord Mervin. He was Merv the Perv.

One the one hand, that's the perfect name for him, but I expected something a little more threatening, like Damian or Lodowick. Mervin just doesn't have enough gravitas or danger. With apologies to all the Mervins out there, it's a name I associate more with inkhorns and the last kid picked in gym class.

  • At 8/13/2006 05:17:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    Am I the only person who immediately focused not on the "Mervin" part of his name, but on "Touch it"?

    Hee hee.


  • At 8/13/2006 05:29:00 PM, Blogger Greenwit wrote…

    me too, flavia. works fairly well with a french inflection, also.


  • At 8/13/2006 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Yes, I was imagining it in French. As in:

    "Don't you know that I am an earl? How dare you speak to me that way!"

    "But Lord Castlehaven, you're a convicted rapist and sodomite."



  • At 8/13/2006 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Vausey wrote…

    Anyone read Herrup's House in Gross Disorder about Merv? It is on my list.


  • At 8/14/2006 06:35:00 PM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    No, I haven't, but she's on my list too.

    Do we have a consensus on how Lord Mervin's surname should be pronounced? "Touch-it" or "Touché"?


  • At 8/15/2006 12:47:00 AM, Blogger Vausey wrote…

    May I propose a third alternative? Playing on the French pronounciation of the che(accent ague) and Flavia and Simplicius' Touch-it, how about Tou-shit??


  • At 8/15/2006 05:42:00 PM, Blogger cardinal_wolsey wrote…

    off-topic, but musn't forget Merv "the Swerve" Davies of Wales rugby fame


  • At 8/18/2006 01:54:00 PM, Blogger Flavia wrote…

    Yeah, I doubt that it was actually pronounced "touch it," but I also doubt that it would have been pronounced "touche" (too lazy to do diacritics); the English don't ever seem to have been really keen on applying properly French pronunciations even to clearly French words. (Among many examples, my favorite has always been the estate of Lord Montagu, Beaulieu, pronounced, "byoo-lee.")

    So I think Vausey's probably closest. My own instinct would be to say "two-chet" or "tow-chet."

    But then the question becomes: how would an Early Modern Englishman have pronounced "touch," anyway?


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