From an email exchange with Neil Remington Abramson (reproduced with permission):
One of my Japanese stepchildren is having a baby boy soon. I have been asked to suggest a middle name. The Western one that might be come the primary one in North America. I’ve been thinking of Edward, Walter or Frederick. Federick is the name of my paternal grandfather, and likely would have been mine, had family tradition been followed.
How did you end up with the name Neil? What is your middle name, if any?
My father, William Walter Remington, prided himself on being a Scot, though he achieved the Scottish side through his mother, while being English, through his father. Of course, we are excluding, as somehow irrelevant, “American”, through his father and “Canadian”, through his mother. It’s typically Canadian to exclude these ethnicities.
So he favoured Scottish names for his children; Bruce, Galeyn, Neil. Had I been a girl, he wished for Skye though my mother may have insisted on Leslie, his second choice. I’d have preferred Skye, had things turned out that way, and like Skye much better than Neil.
I don’t have a proper second name. It’s Alben, my mother’s family name. So I was christened only with Neil as a first name, and two family names: Alben and Remington. The third family name, Abramson, came with adoption, following my mother’s remarriage, after my father was murdered in prison.
Had my father been more conservative (and less radical) and followed family tradition, perhaps I would have been named Frederick (assuming my half-brother Bruce was named William Jr) after my paternal grandfather, or Frank, after my maternal grandfather. I would have preferred the former over Neil as more adaptable. Frederick is also Fred, Freddy and Derrick, whereas Neil is only Neil. I prefer choice. Frank was originally short for Francis (don’t like), but I think he had it legally altered.
I’m tempted – always have been – to change my name. Either Njal (Icelandic) or Niall (Irish) would be better. Perhaps Frederick. Though radicalism seems to have skipped a generation, much like arthritis.