Roger Elley-Brown. Former plain old Roger Brown. Likes cycling

In the early 90s, my brother-in-law Roger Elley-Brown of Elley-Brown Consulting, based in Epsom Auckland, New Zealand, and my sister Margaret Elley-Brown, announced that they were changing their surname by deed-poll from plain old “Brown” to “Elley-Brown”.

My maternal grandmother, Nana Brooker, summed up the feelings of the extended Elley family when Nana said, “I’m deeply disturbed by this name-change. Only criminals and those of bad repute with something to hide change their surname”.


My grandmother Madge Brooker. The finest of women. A champion lawn bowler and sports lover. Horrified by the name-change from Brown to Elley-Brown


And Nana added, “Why adopt a hyphenated name anyway. What’s wrong with “Brown”?

I can understand Roger and Margaret wanting to upgrade from plain-old Brown. But did they have to involve “Elley”.

Did they consult my father Rev Reuben Donald Elley about the proposed name change of their surname from Brown to Elley-Brown? Did they consult any members of the Elley clan to gauge their opinion on their proposed change of surname? The answer is in the negative.

Why did Roger Brown want to be Roger Elley-Brown? There is some snob value in it, although I’m not sure how much. They seem to have wanted to appear more learned and upper class. Maybe to fit in better in Epsom Auckland, which is regarded in Auckland as a well-to-do suburb, although by Sydney or international standards Epsom is a fairly middle-class predominantly Anglo-Saxon neighbourhood.

It’s a devaluation of the Elley name. To have it linked with common old Brown is a disgrace and degradation of the Elley name.

Nana Brooker wasn’t the type to get upset about such things. But this name change somehow really got to her.

I can understand the name change. If my name was Donald Brown, then I’d want to change it to my middle name “McLean”. And then I’d be Donald McLean, instead of Donald Brown. Brown is one of the lowest and plainest of names. There are worse. For example, “Death”. People with the surname “Death” normally pronounce their surname “Deeth”.

Or what about ‘Higginbottom”? Or ‘Grave’. “Hello, Mr Grave”…

Roger Elley-Brown. Margaret Elley-Brown. I really don’t know.

Nana was right. To change your surname by deed-poll is pretty dodgy.

Maybe “Brown” with an ‘E’ on the end would have been better- Margaret and Roger Browne. Not bad at all.


My father Rev Reuben Donald Elley- no application or sign-off from dad re the upgrade by Roger Brown of his name to Roger Elley-Brown


Roger Elley-Brown. Upgraded from plain old Brown without applying to my father for approval for prefacing plain old ‘Brown’ with the elite ‘Elley’ name