• Grace A. Johnson

Name of the Week: Maverick

When I first began writing "The Lady Pirate," I knew I needed a scary, not-very-likable name. At the time, the one on the top of my head, the one which, to me, perfectly fit that description, was Maverick. (I spelled it Mavrick at the time, which is actually an accepted spelling.) Now, I don't know why I didn't like the name, or where I'd heard it before, or why in the great googly moogly I thought that it fit a pirate captain, of all things, but it worked. It still works. And, well, now that I like the name, it will always work as the name of two characters--Maverick Blackstone and Collin Maverick Bennet.

Although I'd not questioned my usage of the name at the time, I still continue to do so now. And, as I was preparing for this week's name, I realized I needed a LOT of proof--of the name's origins and its existence at the time. And of how I was able to use a very uncommon surname that didn't become a forename until the 21st century as the presumably given name of not one but TWO characters.

It took a bit of digging--on Google's part, that is--but I finally found it. The alleged origins of the surname Maverick.

Now, before we jump into it, I want to explain. Maverick Blackstone was christened William Maverick--his father's first name and his mother's surname at the time. However, once his mother married when young William Maverick was ten, he adopted his stepfather's surname and went by Maverick Blackstone. With his secret identity as "William's son" carefully hidden, he claimed William as his middle name. Therefore, I have a very legitimate reason to have used Maverick as a given name--and, no, I did not just make that up.

Ahem. Looking back, you can find an entire family tree of Samuel Mavericks, which ends with the rancher who established the name--and the word--by not branding his calves. But, other than the basic "American, boy's name, means unconventional," you can't find anything about the name--even on Behind the Name. Which is why I then went to a website established by actual Mavericks for Mavericks, a family tree reminiscent of the many Wilde/Wild/Wildes family trees out there (my mother's maiden name). (And, so, yes, had Timothy Wilde been a real person, I would've been related to him. I gave him a family name.) Now, back to Maverick... No one knows for certain the origins/meaning of the name, but supposedly it's related to Morris/Maurice. Maurice (although some say it's Welsh and means "valiant hero") in English and French and comes from the Latin/Roman name Maurus, meaning Moorish. (Moors were the ancient/medieval equivalent of Muslims.) Morris is a medieval English variant. Of course, there are variants of Maurice in other languages, such as Welsh, Dutch, Irish, Polish, Spanish, etc. St. Maurice is the patron saint of infantry soldiers, and there was a Byzantine emperor who bore the name in the 6th century. (I'm sure you know of other bearers.)

Those bearing the surname Maverick can trace their ancestry back to an emigrant family who arrived in New England in 1630. Samuel Maverick (1803-1870) was an active part in the established of the Republic of Texas. As a quick search will tell you, he was the one who all but coined the term "maverick," when he refused to brand his cattle, leaving his unmarked cows as "mavericks." Before long, Texans began using the word in a context of a renegade or unorthodox person and now, all across the country, we use both the word and the name. Before him, his namesake Samuel Maverick (born and died sometime the 1600s) helped found the Anglo-American colony in the Boston, which brought about settlement there before 1626. He was also responsible for writing the report that brought the Winthrop Fleet and The Great Migrants to the area they soon called New England.

So, although there is no evidence of the true history of the name Maverick or its meaning, I certainly don't see why it can't mean Moorish or dark-skinned, valiant, and unconventional and be very, very Roman. Since, I mean, it works. Both Maverick Blackstone and Collin Maverick have dark skin, and the latter can be very valiant at times, and they are both rather unconventional. Plus, the Roman thing works, what with Maverick liking Roman names and all. (He named his son Julius and his mistress was named Lavinia.)

That being said, if you have any background (or know someone who does) on the name Maverick, I would love it if you would share!

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