Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 6th column, he looks at the history of the name Eustace.
Eustace is the English form of Latin Eustachius, combining Greek Eustathios “well-built” and Eustachys “fruitful.” St. Eustace was supposedly martyred in A.D. 118. According to legend, he was a Roman general who converted to Christianity when he saw a crucifix in the antlers of a stag. Eustace, his wife and sons were roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull after refusing to make pagan sacrifices.
Though uncommon, Eustace stayed in use among England’s nobility. It was less popular in the United States, partly because Puritans avoided names of non-Biblical saints. The 1850 United States Census found 90 Eustaces. The 1851 census of Great Britain had 188, though the two nations then had about the same population. The latest available British census of 1911 included 3,009 Eustaces. The 1910 American census had 1,057, though then the United States had almost twice as many residents.
The most famous Eustaces are fictional. In 1925 the cover of the first issue of the New Yorker featured a drawing by Rea Irvin of a monocled dandy with a top hat. Later that year, author Corey Ford named him “Eustace Tilley.” The character reinforced the name’s effete image.