Richard Bauckham was until 2007 Professor of New Testament Studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor in the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is now Professor Emeritus at St Andrews. He was born in London in 1946, and educated at Downhills and Merryhills primary schools and Enfield Grammar School. He then studied at Cambridge, where he read history at Clare College (gaining a B.A. Honours degree, first class, and a Ph.D.), and was a Fellow of St John’s College for three years. After teaching theology for one year at the University of Leeds, he taught historical and contemporary theology for fifteen years at the University of Manchester, before moving to St Andrews in 1992. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He retired in 2007 in order to concentrate on research and writing, and is Senior Scholar at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, where he does some teaching for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. He is also a Visiting Professor at St Mellitus College, London. From 1996 to 2002 he was General Editor of the Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series. He is an Anglican (but not ordained), and was a member of the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England for some years. In 2009 he was awarded the Michael Ramsey prize for his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, and in 2010 the Franz-Delitzsch-Award for a volume of collected essays, The Jewish World around the New Testament. He has traveled widely giving lectures and conference papers. Though his permanent home is now in Cambridge, he returns to St Andrews frequently. When he can find the time, he writes poetry, and has also written two children’s story books about the MacBears of Bearloch (published on this website).
How to pronounce the name BAUCKHAM
I have written this mini-essay because I continue to be surprised at the number of native English speakers who mis-pronounce my name or seem to find it difficult to know how to pronounce it. So this is a lesson in English pronunciation.
According to the phonetic system used by the Oxford English Dictionary, Bauckham is pronounced Borkem. (The OED would actually write that with a large circumflex accent linking the o and the r, but I can’t do that on my computer. It means that the r is not pronounced as a consonant. OED uses e to represent the colourless vowel that occurs, e.g., in the last syllable of broken.) For readers in the UK it may help to say that Bauckham rhymes with Morecambe, the name of the great English comedian Eric Morecambe of the duo Morecambe and Wise. (I am told that many Americans would pronounce the r as a consonant in such a case. In England in standard English would not pronounce the r, though some regional accents would.)
In other words, the AU is pronounced in the way that is absolutely normal in English. There are hundreds of common English words in which AU is pronounced in this way. Just think of all the ordinary words beginning with AU that you are constantly using: auction, audacity, audible, audience, audit, augment, august, auspices, authentic, author, autograph, autocracy, autumn and others. Here are just a few others to give you the idea: Paul, caustic, daub, daunt, gaunt, fault, caught, taught, haul, haunt, taut, daughter, fraught, exhaust, distraught, bauble. There are many, many more. It baffles me when people ask me how I say my name and seem to make a big effort to imitate my accent, as though there were something oddly esoteric about how I pronounce it. I just say it the way I say all those other English words. I expect other people to say the AU the way they normally say the AU in English words. If you speak with an American accent, then say it with an American accent. Say Bauckham in whatever way you say Paul or audience or haunt.
There are a few English words in which the AU sound is shortened to ǒ: cauliflower, laurel, Laurence, Australia, Austin. There are a few English words of French derivation in which AU is pronounced ō: mauve, chauvinist, chauffeur. There is one where in English English the AU is pronounced AH: aunt (I know American English is different). I can think of only one English word in which AU can be pronounced OW, although the OED also records OR as an alternative: the word is aurochs (when did you last use that word?).
So the overwhelmingly obvious way to pronounce AU in an English word is OR. This is also how AW is pronounced, but AU is much more common for this sound than AW is. Yet I have never heard anyone wonder how to pronounce Richard Dawkins’ name. By the way, I was once mistaken for Richard Dawkins. I was introduced, by someone who pronounced my name correctly, to someone who misheard my name as Richard Dawkins. I didn’t realise the mistake for a while. Before I did, since she was a young academic, I asked her what her subject was. I was a bit puzzled by how reluctant she seemed to be to admit that she worked in the field of religious studies.
Yet many people simply assume that the AU in my name must be pronounced OW. They are clever people who know some German. But a little learning is a dangerous thing! Is there a single German name that ends in –ham? I doubt if there is a single German word that ends in –ham. Is there any more typically English ending for a place name or surname than –ham? Think Birmingham, Nottingham, Buckingham, Clapham, Lewisham, Fulham, Sheringham, Fordham and so on and so on. Think DAVID BECKHAM, arguably the best known English person worldwide other than the Queen. The ending –ham (meaning village, as in hamlet) is so quintessentially English that Tolkien wrote a story about Farmer Giles of Ham.
People say the three consonants in the middle of the word (ckh) are odd, and often omit one of them. They don’t seem to have that problem with David Beckham’s name. Or with names like Peckham and Rackham.
So where does the name Bauckham come from, people ask, as though they won’t believe it’s pronounced the way I say unless they can locate it on the map of England. Again this puzzles me. If I said my name was Postlethwaite or Pendleton or Pembury, people wouldn’t normally think of wondering where those places can be found on the map. I do know where Pembury is. I have no idea where Postlethwaite or Pendleton is, but when hearing of well-known persons of those names (Pete Postlethwaite or Victoria Pendleton) I have never wondered where the places after which their ancestors were presumably named are.
If you’re interested, the earliest traceable ancestor of modern Bauckhams is Thomas Bauckham, born c. 1640 in East Malling, Kent, England. I believe he is the first known instance of this spelling of the name. But remember that in those days English people spelt their names how they felt like spelling them at the time (or, in the case of parish registers, how the parish priest thought the names of illiterate parishioners ought to be spelt). In every signature of William Shakespeare that has survived he spells his own name differently! So in the records the name of Thomas Bauckham (c. 1640) and his children is found in these spellings too: Bawkham, Baucomb, Baukum, Bawkum, Baukham, and apparently even Baukeum. At least this proves that the way I pronounce the name is the way it has always been pronounced as long as there have been people who called themselves Bauckham (with due allowance for a seventeenth-century rustic Kentish accent). In the early generations one also finds Baulkham and Balkham, as well as Bockham (once) and Bouckham, but these last two must be blamed on careless parish priests or other recorders (or, in the case of Bouckham, perhaps modern misreadings of their handwriting). The form Baulkham survives today in the name of the district of Baulkham Hills, Sydney, Australia, but I do not know whether there are still people who have the spelling Baulkham as their surname. All traceable descendants of Thomas Bauckham (c. 1640) now use the form Bauckham. The name Balkham is in use, but whether they are genealogically connected I don’t know.
There is no village called Bauckham (or Bawkham or Baukham or Balkham or anything of the sort), but the clue to the origin of the name may well be that among Thomas Bauckham’s children and grandchildren the form Baucomb is found a number of times in the registers. It seems likely that the family originated from the small village in Sussex whose name is now spelt Balcombe. Although some people with the surname Balcomb or Balcombe now pronounce it Bălcem, the modern pronunciation of the village’s name is Borlkem and this is doubtless closer to the seventeenth-century local pronunciation. The spelling Bauckham would have developed as a kind of false etymology by analogy with other names ending in –ham.
If you need actually hear the name Bauckham properly pronounced by a bearer of the name (not me), you can go to