Lady Kitty: What’s in a name?

Welcome Lady Kitty Ethel!

Lady Kitty My husband and I instantly were in agreement; what better name could possibly exist than Lady Kitty? It took six months of brainstorming and deep thoughtful reflection to arrive at her beautiful, unique, and refined name. We slowly honed in on this name combination starting with loving the old fashioned British name “Kitty.” We wondered, though, were we too far afield with a name like “Kitty” for modern times? Especially given our love for felines the name “Kitty” felt both extremely personal as well as questionably appropriate. We were thus comfortably stalled: we liked the name Kitty, specifically with the family name Kitty Ethel. I was hesitant, unsure if it was “the one”. Then to great amusement, I have to admit the pivotal moment of defining her name wasn’t particularly profound. I was six months pregnant and flipping through the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine. One of the photo captions caught my eye. The name “Kitty” popped out at me, and to my pleasant surprise it read “Lady Kitty” when I looked closer. How lovely. I was intrigued. It turned out the photo was of model and homeless youth ambassador Kitty Spencer. Her full name is Lady Kitty Eleanor Spencer. She’s the late Princess Diana’s niece, the eldest daughter of Diana’s older brother, Lord Spencer. Lady Kitty Eleneor is the Prince William and Harry’s first cousin. A noble name.

It immediately felt like a perfect fit: strong, classic, modern, whimsical, personally meaningful and just the right amount of unconventional. “Lady” added the somewhat cheeky distinguishing touch we were seeking to clarify her name as Kitty Ethel. Moreover, Lady Kitty is straightforward to pronounce and straightforward to spell. Lovely Lady Kitty, whose nickname may well be Kitty… when she’s asked “is that [Kitty] short for something? Katherine? perhaps?” she can answer politely that Kitty is her name and it’s short for Lady Kitty.

Mama Tolle and Lady Kitty Ethel at one month old.

Ethel Ethel is Old English for noble strength. Ethel is my maternal grandmother’s mother’s name. Therefore, it’s Lady Kitty’s great-great-grandmother who was named Ethel… Ethel Lenore Renwick Thomson. Ethel Lenore Renwick Thomson was quite a woman. The whole family looks up to her memory with reverence. My great-grandparents Dr. James Thomson DDS and Ethel Lenore Renwick Thomson are endearingly known by the names Chum and Echo in our family. These were nicknames given them by their grandson, my uncle Neil, in an effort to pronounce their names when he was small. They loved those names and used them for the rest of their lives. Growing up I always imagined I would name my daughter Echo after her. After years of consideration towards this favored family name, we chose for our daughter Lady Kitty to have Ethel’s original given name, not her nickname Echo, as her second name. Ethel, a noble name.

Lady Kitty Ethel’s great great grandmother Ethel (Echo) Lenore Renwick Thomson at our family lake cabin “Point Petite” with her family—from left: youngest son Neil William, husband James Herbert, daughter Ruth Mary, the matriarch Ethel herself wearing white shoes, and eldest son James.