Log in

No account? Create an account
All Knowledge is Contained in Wikipedia - Off in the distance
my journal
May 2016

The Bellinghman
Date: 2009-07-07 11:26
Subject: All Knowledge is Contained in Wikipedia
Security: Public
Tags:history, wine
Or maybe not, but I've just noted some history which is personally interesting.

One of the happenings during the aftermath of the French Wars of Religion was the Edict of Fontainebleau, in 1685. This removed the last protections of the Huguenots, reimposing religious intolerance, and causing large numbers of them to flee.

One of the places they fled to was South Africa. Being French, many of those fleeing were wine makers, which is why the South African wine industry is so ancient: it was actually founded by a bunch of French refugees.

One particular couple (Dutchman Gerrit Janz van Vuuren and his French Huguenot wife), settled in a place they apparently called 'pretty fields', or 'Bellinchamp'. A name that managed to mutate.

That's why 'Bellingham' wine has a foundation date of 1693 displayed on their labels. And it's also why there's no sign of the enterprise on our family tree: the name is an independent coinage.

(On the subject of that date: when in Tesco a few days ago, I noticed the bottles next to them on the shelves, from a rival winemaker, very, very prominently displayed a date of a few years earlier: 1687 if I remember correctly. Oh what a difference a few years makes!)

Ah, it's Boschendal - apparently The estate's title deeds are dated 1685, but this is likely to be a clerical mistake since the estate's first owner, Jean de Long, was one of the party of 200 French Huguenot refugees granted land in the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Company in 1688
Post A Comment | 7 Comments | | Link

User: silly_swordsman
Date: 2009-07-07 10:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you. I've been vaguely wondering if it was some relative to you whenever I've wandered down the wine aisle at Tesco, and then, upon moving on to more pressing matters like trying to remember what sort of cereals the kids like this week, I've promptly forgot the query.

It is a somewhat surprising mutation of the name, though, isn't it? There are so many other ways it could have gone, after all.
Reply | Thread | Link

The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-07-07 11:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can only think that with the English control of the country, and Dutch being the other language, any French names basically had to mutate or die. Hence de Klerk from Le Clercq, and other changes.

(English has had some interesting 'mutations' of French: hence such places as Beauvoir, pronounced Beaver.)

ETA: However, given that the correct pronunciation of 'Bellingham' is 'Bellin'jum', we're just looking at a transition from the French 'champ' to 'jum': linguistically next door as 'sh' -> 'j, and short 'o' -> short 'u'. If they had been going for the pronunciation that rhymes with Buckingham and Birmingham, then that would have been odd. But they seem to have had some notion of the correct version of our name. Which rather implies that one of us was in the area.

Or at least someone who knew how the name should be pronounced, which a whole city of Americans don't.

Edited at 2009-07-07 12:42 pm (UTC)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link

User: silly_swordsman
Date: 2009-07-07 12:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, so the wine has the same pronounciation as you do? In which case, the mutation is quite minor, almost neglible.

But the spelling then requires you of you to have been there, so that the van Vuurens could say "Oi, Joe! We're trying to write the name of the place in English instead of French, and it sounds almost like your surname. How do you spell that?"

Do you have any idea when the name of the winery became English? Or for that matter, whether there were/are any alternative spellings of Bellingham that are more obviously phonetically correct?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link

The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-07-07 14:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If the wine has the same pronunciation - /ˈbɛlɪndʒəm/ (bĕl′·ən·jəm) - then it's easily explicable. If the name started with the incorrect (and more modern) pronunciation, then it's all a bit inexplicable.

On the basis of lexical analysis, I'm fairly confident that they did have the correct pronunciation back whenever the mutation happened. The pronunciation is fairly ancient (and is shared by the town in Northumbria). It may have been fairly well known, in the the way that everyone knows how to pronounce Cholmondeley or Featherstonehaugh - after all, in 1792, one was well enough known to have Vancouver attach the name to an American bay despite the name's owner never ever seeing the ocean on which it is situated.

As far as alternate spellings are concerned, I'm not aware of any - it's been pretty consistent for the best part of a millennium. On the other hand, there are a few people named Bellinger out there, and I have my suspicions.

Edited at 2009-07-07 02:41 pm (UTC)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link