So where does Denzel Dumfries get his name from? The 2022 World Cup star first caught the eye at Euro 2020 but is back with a burst of energy under Louis van Gaal a year later.
Let’s get the easy part out of the way first: it’s named after Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington. But what about the Dumfries bit, which naturally generated some interest in Britain?
Dumfries is a market town in south-west Scotland, home to – or even ‘doon hame’, as the locals say – nearly 50,000 people, some of whom are fans of local team Queen of the South. (While we’re here, this The name comes from local poet David Dunbar, who named the town as such when he ran for the 1857 general election. He lost, but the phrase stuck; it is the only British professional football team whose name has been verified by Jesus in the Bible.)
But how did a Dutchman come to be called Dumfries? Well, we are getting there. Denzel’s father, Boris Dumfries, is from Aruba, a 20-mile-long Caribbean island just off the top of South America.
Aruba was first settled by the Spanish (it was “discovered” by Amerigo Vespucci, after whom the Americas are named) and briefly by the British but, for the most part, by the Dutch. It’s still part of the family: Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Ok, but why would someone in a Dutch dependency have such a Scottish surname? It turns out that Dumfries isn’t a particularly unusual name in Aruba: online genealogy resource Forebears.io lists the island as having the highest prevalence of the surname in the world.
Indeed, Siegfried Dumfries is the director of the Department of Culture of the government of Aruba, while Samuel Dumfries advises the Ministry of the Environment. And in 2014, Aruba-born Morris Dumfries persuaded his new Dutch wife Cherylle to honeymoon in the Scottish town. (He loved it – “People have been so friendly” – but his reaction is not recorded.)
The Scots and the Dutch
Forget the lens of Archie Gemmill in 1978, or that of Patrick Kluivert in 1996: the link between Scotland and the Netherlands is centuries old, first forged by trade and education, then by religion and war. Persecuted minorities of Catholic or Protestant faith, perhaps bypassing an England controlled by the other lot, would flee to a safe haven across the North Sea.
From the late 1500s to the late 1700s, the Scottish Brigade fought in the Netherlands on behalf of the Dutch Republic, striving to extricate itself from occupation by the Spanish Habsburgs and, later, France Napoleonic. In 1700 around a thousand Scots lived in Rotterdam, with many more elsewhere.
This influx of Scots is reflected in names like Roy Makaay, the former Netherlands international whose surname is a modified version of Scot Mackay. Something similar to the reverse is true with the popular Scottish surname Fleming, which indicates a long-ago arrival from Flemish lands.
From here it is easy to see how the name Dumfries can be transported, via the Dutch diaspora, to the other side of the world by colonization and emigration. All surnames come from somewhere, often far away in time and space: Dumfries happens to come from a place the British recognize on the map.