Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 20th column, he looks at the history of the name Errol.
Errol is a village in Perthshire, Scotland, so ancient its original meaning is unknown. Around 1178, King William I of Scotland granted the barony of Errol to Norman knight William de la Haye. In 1309, King Robert the Bruce made Gilbert, de la Haye’s great-great-grandson, hereditary High Constable of Scotland. In 1453, James II made Gilbert’s great-great-grandson William Hay first Earl of Erroll. (Spelling was still do-it-yourself in 1453; maps then sometimes used “Arroll” for the village.)
The Earls of Erroll are Scotland’s most important peers, second only to the royal family. Josslyn Hay (1901-41), 22nd Earl of Erroll, became a colonial planter in Kenya. He was murdered there, with his married lover’s husband controversially acquitted of the crime. His grandson, Merlin, 24th Earl, is a computer programmer who is now the House of Lords’ cybersecurity expert.
It’s not hard to find examples of boys named “Cedric Errol,” with Errol being the middle name. Prominent New Orleans architect and painter Errol Barron (born 1941) was Cedric Errol Barron Jr. at birth. Still, the name stayed rare until Errol Flynn became famous. Star of box-office hits like “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938), Variety ranked him the fourth most popular film actor in 1940. Errol first entered the top 1,000 baby names in 1936, peaking at 354th five years later, along with Flynn’s career.