Godbolts of the World

When you’re a self-promoting, self-obsessed blog whore like me, you spend a lot of time googling for your own name. Along the way I’ve discovered that my surname, Godbolt, isn’t half as unique as I’ve always thought.

I’ve always enjoyed having an unusual name. Recently, more and more people are asking my wife and I where the name comes from. According to my Dad through his own research and that of his uncle and aunt, the name is Anglo-Saxon and has two possible derivations. The one that gets my vote is a form of ‘good bolt’ or ‘good bold’, being a good archer or fletcher or just generally an adventurous type. Rather an appealing heritage, I’m sure you’ll agree. The other possibility (favoured by my father) is again ‘good bolt’ but bolt taking to mean the bolting (jumping and acrobatics) of a court jester. I’m not so convinced myself, though my wife seems to think it’s a good fit!

So anyway, I’ve been amazed at the number of other Godbolts there are out there. I’ve noticed that they’re predominantly black Americans. Rather shamefully it would appear this is because someone way back in our family was either in the slave business, or else owned a fair few slaves. Apparently it was common practice for freed slaves to take on the name of their previous owner or master. Quite an unpleasant episode in the history of the Godbolts.

I’d like to make a list of all the Godbolts on the internet. As a starting point:

…and many more — these are just the tip of the Godbolt iceberg! I’m quite amazed, I’d realised there were more out there than I thought, but in the process of researching this article I’ve found so many more! There are 8,882 Godbolts in America alone, so this page might get quite big if I put them all in!

Filed under: Blog
Posted at 11:42:14 GMT on 7th February 2006.

About Matt Godbolt

Matt Godbolt is a C++ developer working in Chicago in the finance industry.