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How did your parents decide on your name?
Boutros’ Nick, as the villagers called him: Ο Νικολής του Πούτρου. But in the papers of the state and church, he was set down as Nicholas Hadjimarcou. With a c and a dj, because the state was British Cyprus, which acknowledged that the Cypriots pronounces their j’s. The Greek alphabet doesn’t, so Νικόλαος Χατζημάρκου.
Boutros’ Nick married Maria Haralambidou, and they had nine pregnancies, eight births, and seven children who made it to adulthood. George, Helen, Chris, Stavros, Dora, Andrew, and Marc-Anthony. Or at least, Marc-Anthony is what the state knows him as, because the godfather insisted on it. Boutros’ Nick preferred Savva, and Savvakis is what he goes by to this day.
Savvakis is also the only male child who stayed in Cyprus, and the only one who kept Boutros’ Nick’s surname.
The other four boys, George, Chris, Stavros and Andrew, all migrated to Australia, between 1947 and 1970. Chris had switched his surname to his patronymic before leaving; Christodoulos, son of Nicholas, Hadjimarcou (Χριστόδουλος Νικολάου Χατζημάρκου), thus became Chris Nicholas (Χρίστος Νικολάου). Cypriots do this, though I don’t know how frequently.
George came to Australia way before Chris had switched his surname—Chris would have been just 15; but George landed in Sale, Victoria in 1947, at a time when noone particularly felt like deciphering Hadjimarcou. So he found the surname switch expedient. The other two siblings moved two decades later, and they too found the switch expedient—the more so because they all ended up in Launceston, Tasmania, and didn’t want to go by separate surnames.
Now it is the firm custom among Greeks that their firstborn children take their grandparents’ names. Families used to go to war over less: not giving your parent’s name to your child was a grave insult, and that sentiment is only loosening now. It certainly hadn’t loosened in the ’60s and ’70s in the Tasmanian Greek community.
Four Nicholas brothers had four firstborn sons. It was thus an inevitability that there be four Nick Nicholas’s. I’m Stavros’.
And no, my parents thought nothing of it. They were at least merciful enough not to put down my given name in the birth certificate as Nicholas.
Btw. My father went by Nicholas, but he only changed it by deed poll to Nicholas when we were about to leave for Greece. He used Nicholas so he wouldn’t go by a different surname to his brothers; he changed it officially so he wouldn’t go by a different surname to his children.
.i mi ckire do doi filip niuton lenu do cpedu lenu mi spuda .i ku’i pe’i do pujeca djuno ledu’u mi se cmene mu’i dakau