Update on Xpian


April 11, 2017 by auntkatefirmin

While everyone is still working hard on sorting out the Bath, Parsons, Horsell, and related families here’s a short sidelight on spelling.

As I was working on deciphering the will of John Bath, I stumbled over his two daughters. Edith was clear enough and I really wanted the other daughter to be Christian. The name ended with “ian” but there weren’t enough letters and the first letter didn’t appear to be a C. I was rather distracted and decided to set aside the transcription for another day. As I was drifting off to sleep I had a flash of insight – if Xtopher is an alternate spelling for Christopher, the first letter must be X! That left me with Xpian which seemed odd. Cousin Liz, who kindly researched the will, mentioned that she had seen other places where Xpian was used for Christian so that helped. That’s where focusing more in one era helps.


The letters Chi Rho from the Book of Matthew as written by the scribes of the Book of Durrow, via wikimedia.

You’ve seen Xmas for Christmas, so here’s the short explanation. X is the Greek letter “chi” for the sound “ch.” The beautiful “carpet pages” in books from the Middle Ages may include a “Chi Rho” page. The Greek letters Chi Rho, which resemble the Roman X P, were a common abbreviation for either Christ or the noun Christian, depending on the context. When interspersed with Roman letters you end up with odd abbreviations like Xpian – shorthand for Chr[ist]ian. It’s all there under Christian in Wikipedia.



One thought on “Update on Xpian

  1. Donde Hart Smith says:

    Thanks, Barb. Learned something interesting.

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