What's in a Name? A quaint philosophy (short story)

One theory of time and space that had currency two decades ago asserts that, as events unfurl, duplicate universes representing each moment in time are created along a single time line.

Every state of being remains in existence: each frozen at one instance of time. Your first kiss, like mine, is represented in an eternity of universes like the frames of a film. In this quaint philosophy we are all still back there, alive and young.

St Quinten, Jordaens, 1650 

Within this breathtaking fantasy, reflective intelligence alone traverses the timeline. Intelligence is conceived as  organism that travels the timeline within the changing states of a host – a simple parasite carrying with it a single  sense of identity.
Alas, it seems capable of steady travel in one direction. If it could be persuaded to reverse direction, what opportunity would there be to re-explore each passing moment, and maybe correct past mistakes? That first kiss perhaps.

I went looking for this quaint philosophy. Sadly, the most powerful search engines of this time cannot identify the source. A bit like music from the 80’s, it was never captured or indexed and so now no longer exists. Maybe I imagined it.
Still, it was enough to get me thinking about my own past, and my sense of identity. I have an interest in the past  reinforced accidentally in legal work in the intestines of the law and some self-indulgent dabbling in the alchemy of family trees.  Perhaps enough to stir my interest to feed that parasite within - pushing me into attempting a little time travel. 

Names remain a powerful anchor to this world: part of the glue that binds families together in love and hate. They reinforce kinship values and loyalty. 
Out of Scandinavia raiders wrested the East Coast of France from Paris and established the realm of Normandy. The family name ‘Quinton’ derives from this time – it was a Norman family from this period - with the family represented in France, England and Ireland. The name has a number of spellings. Quinton is the most settled form but Quentin and Quintyn were common forms in medieval times. Quentin was also a popular baptismal name (particularly in Scotland). An unrelated Scottish family possibly derives from this practise (which is now less common).
But the name itself has even older roots. The name is taken from the French town of St Quentin on the Somme, called after the missionary martyred there in 287AD. St Quentin is upstream from Amiens on the Somme River and is about halfway between Paris and Brussels.
St Quentin is the site of an old Gallic-Roman fort Augusta Viromanduorum.[1] The site is strategically important being at the point of a natural crossing of the Somme, having good defensive terrain and being placed at the centre of trading routes to the East, West and South. During Roman times, the town probably had a population to about 2-3,000 people. 
The story of Saint Quentin has been deserted by the church - elements of the death are fantastical and, perhaps more disturbingly, recall elements of the resurrection.[2] Towards the end of the second century AD, during the reign of the fellow-Augustus Maximian[3], Christian missionaries from Rome, Quintinus (son of a Roman senator, Zenon) and Lucian (later St Lucian of Beavois) went to Gaul.[4] At Amiens they parted, Quintinus remaining to preach in the area. The Roman prefect Rictivarus ordered his arrest in 287AD. Initially Rictivarus tried to persuade Quintinus to give up Christianity. Refusal led to Quintinus’s torture and ‘passio’ in Amiens. He survived many tortures and marvels (limbs stretched with pulleys until dislocated, body torn with iron wire, boiled pitch and oil etc) to escape and continue to preach. He was recaptured and taken to Viromanduorum where he was tortured and killed (“when his head was cut off, a white dove issued”). His body and head were thrown into the Somme.
The first of a series of miracles occurred later when Quintinus emerged to the Roman Eusebie from the Somme intact. He was recovered and promptly buried by converts. 
By the time St Gregory of Tours and Bede were writing, the area had taken on Quintinus’s name in the form of St Quentin Viromanduorum. A small building was erected over his tomb in 355AD. The building was destroyed about 362AD during the reversion to paganism under Emperor Julian the Apostate. It was ravished during barbarian attacks in 407AD, 451AD and 534AD. It was rebuilt in 497AD after the baptism of Clovis. When Eligius, bishop of Noyon rediscovered the relics of Quintinus in 650AD he founded a monastery at the site. The Normans burnt the monastery in 883AD before settling in the area, becoming Christians and rebuilding it in the 10th century. The site survives today and the Saint’s remains lie in the crypt under the church.
The first recorded person using the ‘Quinton’ surname was the 10th century writer Dudo ds Saint-Quentin. He wrote the Historia Normanorum. It is likely that during this time many Normans from the region also took on the name de Saint-Quentin.[5] A number of men from the district travelled with William the Conqueror in his successful attack on England in 1066. After the war, they were granted land near old Roman forts in Staffordshire, Kent and Wiltshire where they prospered and became established landholders. In Wiltshire, the family continued its military tradition, owning land at Bupton and still recorded arms in c1560.[6]
In the 17th century a growing number of Quintons can be found in London[7] and some of the larger towns. After the invasion of Ireland by Cromwell, there were records of Quintons in the ‘Anglisised’ east coast of Ireland. By the next century, with growing industrialisation and the break-down of rural life, Quintons could be found in many English counties.[8] Two parishes are named Quinton (in counties Northampton and Gloucester).
Research suggests that my family can be traced back through Ireland to Staffordshire.[9] This research is not concluded but naming patterns and historical events give it some support. In Staffordshire, the family owned land in the region around the towns of Wall, Lichfield and Longden. The ancient family home survived until c1750. William Quintyn of Wall (d.1596) derived of French lineage, taking the family name from the town of St Quentin. He claimed that the family settled there in the reign of William I. William Quintyn’s descendants are traced in an old description of the history and antiquities of Shenshone Parish (north of Birmingham):

“Quintyn, or St Quintyn, is a name and family of note for antiquity and possessions in Wall, Lichfield, and Longden; but the first I meet with settled in Wall is William Quintyn, derived of French lineage that took their name from St. Quintyn, a town in Piccardy, and most likely settled in this nation in the reign of William I. William Quintyn, of Wall, son of William, who died in 1596, at Wall, married Ann Jackson (daughter, as I think, of John Jackson), in 1597. Dorothy Quintyn was married that year to Richard Sylvester, of Over Stonall, and had Richard, born 1599. Richard Quintyn, son of William, was witness to the sale of lands by Richard Sylvester to Rowland Rydding, in the 13th year of the reign of James I.[10] In 1631 lived John Quintyn of Wall, gent. who, in 1644-5, was obliged to pay to Robert Tuthill, governor of Rushall house, 20l. immediately, besides his weekly contribution, for the use of that parliamentary garrison.[11] In 1647 William Quintyn, of Derby, Thomas Orme, of Ashborne in the Peak, and Elizabeth his wife, sold to John Quinton, of Wall, a messuage, barns, orchard, garden, curtilage, in Wall; a close called Crof[12], a green, land named Round hills, seven acres of arable land in Wall, and Rakemore meadow in Shenstone parish, then in the tenure of the said John; witnessed by Richard Gladwyn, John Nevill, W. Leyton, Thomas Manther, and William Quinton, of Wall; John Quintyn died in 1659 possessed of considerable estates in Lichfield, Hammerwick, Shenstone, Wall, and elsewhere, leaving issue William, John, and Thomas, Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Webbe, Mary, and Anne. This John Quintyn made, besides what is aforesaid, several purchases, some tenements of John Smyth, of Lichfield; the Muckleys in Wall, of William Bull, with a burgage in Geeles-lane, Lichfield; land in Hammerwick of Nicolas Smallwood; and in Lichfield of Thomas Martyn. To the said John Quintyn’s will, dated August 16, 1658, are witnesses Thomas Nevil, Richard Gladwyn, and Sarah Wolverstan. Eleanor, his widow, was living in 1664.
William Quintyn, as appears by an agreement made in his life-time, was contacted to Alice, daughter of Thomas Dutton, of Wall, gent. who was to pay her 300l. as her present fortune, and I suppose the marriage was consummated. This Thomas Dutton is in the said contract named his cousin William, died in 1698-9, leaving John and Thomas, if no other children.
Thomas Quintyn, of Freeford, brother, as I conjecture, of John father of William, died in 1704. Another Thomas died in 1706, at Wall. Elizabeth Quintyn, widow, died there in 1711, as did Sarah Quintyn; also Thomas, in 1713, possessed of lands in Chesterfield and Wall. John, eldest son of William, was noted for a well-bred gentleman, and was then the head of this family, with an estate of 200l. yearly, which he chiefly farmed himself; dying unmarried. Thomas, his brother, became his principal heir, who owned Leyfields, and other lands near Swynsen, but afterwards proved a waster; in a few years his estates were in mortgage to - Turton, esq. of Hargrave, and afterwards were sold to John Porter of Lichfield, attorney at law, whose son, Sheldon Porter, in the present reign, erected a handsome mansion on the spot where stood the ancient family house of the Quintyns. Thomas Quintyn has issue three daughters, Elizabeth, who died young; Anne, wife of - Jackson, goldsmith, at Lichfield, who had issue one daughter, lately living; and Alicia, wife of James Garlick, of Stourbridge, surgeon of the hospital at Woolwich or Sheerness, who died a few years since,without issue, she was living in 1773.
Leyfields abovesaid, near Swynsen, were sold by Thomas Quintyn to - Capper, of Birmingham.
Lands named Rosthall’s, and part of the Rakemoors, passed from Thomas Quintyn, to the Jacksons of Wall.
James Garlick abovesaid had in his possession several coins of Allectus, who assumed the purple and title of emperor A.D. 294, and, if I remember right, of Carausius[13], his predecessor in this island; he also shewed me many of the emperor Constantine[14], and others found in Wall.”[15]

The research in this note has been taken from good old-fashioned ink on parchment. I have a deep distrust of the way old religious stories and weather data alike seem to have subtly changed during digitization. 

[1] Possibly named as such following a reference to the Viromandui in Caeser’s commentary on the battle of the Sambre in 57BC. I have used the modern French rather than Catholic/Latin spelling.
[2] The saint’s day is 31 October – but some place the feast day in February.
[3] Diocletian appointed Maximian to rule the Western Empire in 286. In 287 Carausius revolted in Britain.
[4] According to one story, the Pope Marcellin authorised the mission.
[5] I have seen a grant of land to the Catholic church from a Quentin dating to the 12th century to build a church at St Quentin suggesting that the Saint had been dropped from the surname before 1100AD.
[6] In 1565 the arms of John Quinten of Bupton were described as Ermine, on a chief Gules three lions rampant Or, impling Long as under Long, of Selways. Much of the rest of the record is indistinct, but it seems to describe a fairly wealthy family with extensive land holdings.
[7] Probably immigrants from Kent. There are a number of grave sites at St Bene’t, Paul’s Wharf in the 17th century. Some are tantilising, others sad: “4 July 1640, Ellena daughter of Edward Quinton, in churchyarde, in a coffin by ye wall”,
[8] in the last quarter of 1837, births were registered in Stockton on Tees, Nottingham, Gateshead, Cirencester and Bristol.
[9] Members of the Staffordshire line joined the parliamentary army under Cromwell that suppressed the 1649 revolution in Ireland. Traces of the family from Australia to the ‘Anglisised’ East coast of Ireland are tantalising - but gaps in Irish records make the link back to Staffordshire difficult to substantiate. Nevertheless, naming patterns and other historical events make this a better fit than other possibilities.
[10] that is, 1616.
[11] A curious reference that deserves clarification. In 1644 the protestant revolution against Charles I was in full progress. It seems that John Quintyn supported the revolutionary forces of the parliament against the royalists. In 1649 Oliver Cromwell ruthlessly suppressed an Irish revolution against the Protestants. In England, the parliamentary forces were successful when Oliver Cromwell was installed in 1653 as Protector of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth collapsed in 1659 and Charles II took the throne in 1660.
[12] or Cros
[13] Created an independant empire in England 287-97 AD. Lost by his successor Alexander.
[14] Emperor 305-337AD
[15] Bibliotheca Topographica Britanica (ix,4,274). Surviving parish records from Staffordshire give considerable support to the family information contained within this extract


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