It is widely believed that the suburb of Fitzroy was named due an association with the French crown – Le Roi meaning The King in French – and indicates that the line of French kings descended from the Merovingians, and through them, from Jesus the Christ, lives on in hiding in the area. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a start, the last scion of the French monarchy was guillotined along with the rest of his family long before the shores of Port Phillip were explored by the white man, let alone settled. (Although the are rumours regarding a man in an iron mask… ). No, the boys from old Fitzroy weren’t hinting at anything in their choice of tune to base their club’s theme song upon.
Nor is is true that the name of Fitzroy derives from a more ancient line of royalty, that of the High Kings of Dom-Daniel, in the lands known to mortals as Faerie. This is also untrue, although a little more understandable – the “roy” in Fitzroy does not derive from the French for king, but is rather a corrupted form of the word “rade”, a term often associated with the Fae. In the early years of the suburb, Fitzroy was not located where it now lies, but was vastly more peripatetic, being found from time to time in locations all over Melbourne, and even, on one memorable occasion, in the far-distant Kimberly Ranges of Western Australia (an event commemorated by the name of Fitzroy Crossing, the town later built at that location). The cause of this case of peripatepsy, as with all such cases, in unknown, although it has been suggested that it resulted from some sort or curse. The condition has been quiescent for many years now, although given that the reasons for this are also unknown, Fitzroy could be found enjoying the breeze at Carrara or halfway up a mountain in Western Australia at any time.
So much for the second syllable of the name. The first syllable has a less interesting origin, one that reflects the point in time when the suburb was given its name. Victorian medicine being what it was, the somewhat related maladies of epilepsy and peripatepsy were not at that time distingished from each other, and while the suburb of Fitzroy suffered the latter condition, it was the former’s best known symptom that would give the suburb the first syllable of its name.
Suburbs near Fitzroy: