Mystery Monday: Stethyans

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a typo? Is it a name?

Today’s mystery name comes from a Cornish parish register in the 1580s.


Unless there’s a scribe who’s really confused about how to spell feminine forms of Stephen, we haven’t really any clue what name this is supposed to be, or whether the editor has even managed to represent the original source material correction.

On the other hand, there are some weird and unusual names in Cornwall that turn up in the 16th C, and maybe this is one of them — do we have any Cornish experts reading? If you’ve got any ideas about the origin of this name, please share in the comments!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

3 responses to “Mystery Monday: Stethyans

  1. Sarah

    I would guess that it’s linked to the place Stithians, which is between Falmouth and Redruth and has a St Stithians/Stythians church. Like many Cornish saints, there doesn’t seem to be an actual St Stithian and it might be St Ithian/Etienne/Etaine or St Stephen. A more recent Cornish place name book might venture a derivation – I’ve only got TFG Dexter’s ‘Cornish Names’ 1968 reprint, which lists it under ‘Parishes named after saints’.

  2. Brian M. Scott

    It is apparently the name of the village and parish of (St) Stithians, Cornish Stedhyans. As is noted in the Wikipedia article, the place-name appears in a great variety of forms, one of which is Stethyans. It is named after a St Stythian to whom the parish church, St Stythian’s, is dedicated and whose name is apparently a bit of a mystery.

    This Sthethyans John appears in the St Breage parish register, and St Breage is quite close to Stithians; her name may actually be the place-name, used here as a forename. Alternatively, the entry may be erroneous: possibly Stethyans was her surname and was accidentally substituted for her forename, and her groom’s surname was then substituted for hers. The place-name does occur as a surname: the Gwinear Parish Register has a marriage entry John Stithians & Clary his wife for 16 January 1609.

  3. Stithians alias St Stithians is a Cornish place-name. This is probably naming after the local saint.

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