Family Lessons 33: Cassandra

When one traces one’s family tree, especially a line from honest, hard-working farming stock, the same old Christian names have a habit of recurring. Every generation seems to have a John, a Thomas and a William; an Elizabeth, a Jane and a Mary. Occasionally, one comes across an unusual name, causing our pondering the reason for the choice. My 8x great-grandfather, Robert Hudson, of Bulk, Lancaster, named his first-born, and my 7x great-grandmother, 'Cassandra' back in 1735. Perhaps they had aspirations of grandeur, or enjoyed breaking with tradition, bestowing so exotic a nomenclature on their new little girl. Or maybe they grew tired of the same old raft of names which wearies as much the modern genealogist. Robert himself was named after his grandfather (my 10x great-grandfather, born circa 1670), yet I find no trace of an Aunt or Granny Cassandra after whom the little girl was named.

Cassandra in ancient Greek history and myth was a daughter of Priam, King of Troy. She was a prophetess who could only utter truth which was bound to be disbelieved (as opposed to contemporary, modern-day ‘prophets’ who utter nonsense that is eaglerly lapped up). The poor woman’s name is now a term for anyone who accurately foresees ill news. Winston Churchill, for instance, while occupying the back benches in the 1930s was quite right about German rearmament, though few in government wished to realise another great war was looming. Cassandra seems a rather melancholic name with which to saddle a small child, though it is perfectly charming to pronounce. In one respect, the Christian is a Cassandra par excellence. We foretell a coming Day of Judgement with all its respective terrors, but many of our pearls are trampled and our words ignored and rejected, as few believe. Yet we also offer good news- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I hope this part Granny Cassandra was able to believe, and you, too.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31

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