Tyler Too

What’s In A Name?

By Gus Tyler

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The city of Boston was one of the pivotal players in early American history. A popular rhyme declared: “Here’s to the city of Boston, the land of the bean and the cod, where the Lowells speak only with Cabots and the Cabots speak only with God.”

One of Boston’s boasts is Filene’s, a world famous retail outlet.. A number of years ago, the sons of the owner of Filene’s were distinguished scholars with a strong liberal bent. I was then editing the Socialist Call. I made inquiry of friends as to the unusual name of the family. A childhood friend of mine who was in the apparel trades and was doing business with Filene’s informed me that the family name of the store’s owners was Katz.

So just as Samuel Clemens took on the nom de plume of Mark Twain so did the Katz family translate Katz into feline with a twist in the vowels to hide any identification with Katz.

In Boston, there was a Jewish tailor who ran a store to repair men’s clothing. His name was Kabotnick. He applied for a legal change of name to Cabot, The request was granted. A quick wit rewrote the historic lines about Boston. “Here’s to the city of Boston, the land of the bean and the cod, where the Lowells speak only with Cabots and the Cabots speak Yiddish, by God.”

By now I became fascinated with Boston’s heritage and decided to track down the origin of the Cabots. I was well rewarded. The Cabots are descendants of an Italian explorer named Giovanni Caboto.

My name “Gus Tyler” was originally a pen name of Augustus Tilove who fell in love with Wat Tyler, the leader of the English peasant uprising of 1382.



Comments
Melinda Sun. Aug 5, 2007

The whole Kabot story was written up in a 1997 issue of Harvard Magazine. The Kabotchnik in question was my grandfather's brother, Harry, who lived in Philadelphia (originally from Scranton) and he petitioned the courts for a name change to "Kabot". It was challenged by the Boston Cabots but the judge ruled in favor of Uncle Harry, saying that while he didn't see anything wrong with the name "Kabotchnik" he'd be honored to have such a fine man take his own name. It's worth looking up the article - it has a lot of detail.

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