My Name is Mudd

Perhaps you have heard the phrase “His name is Mudd”. Usually it is used to designate a person that has a bad reputation for something they have said or done. Where did this phrase come from? Here is a little etymology of this expression:

His name is mud is a derogatory phrase used to suggest that someone is out of favor or has offended his or her peers. This has nothing to do with wet earth; the correct spelling is Mudd and refers to Dr. Samuel Mudd, a country doctor in the USA. In ignorance as to what had happened, he treated the broken leg of one John Wilkes Booth shortly after Booth had assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in a Washington theatre in 1865. Booth had had a horse waiting for him outside the theatre; he made his escape to the nearby countryside and was treated by Dr. Mudd. The next day, on hearing of the assassination, Dr. Mudd informed the authorities that he had treated Booth. In spite of Dr. Mudd's ignorance of the events at the time he gave the treatment, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Truth eventually prevailed and Dr. Mudd was pardoned in 1869. However, the public never forgave him and it was only in the 1970s was he actually declared innocent and the family name cleared. Source:

In the text for this week’s Covenant Sunday school lesson on I Kings 9, Israel is reminded that through Solomon their king, they will be blessed if they keep the commands of the Lord. If they did not, they would see their blessings removed and would be disciplined as the children of God. There is also a unique warning that goes along with disobedience. Israel would become a “proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house (the temple) will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshipped them and served them’. Therefore, the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.” (I Kings 9:7-9) God commanded and demanded holiness from His people. If they walked with the Lord, there was promised blessing. If there was disobedience, there was promised discipline. In addition to this if they were unfaithful, their name would be “Mudd”! They would become a proverb to unfaithfulness; their name would be synonymous with betrayal and treason, as was Dr. Mudd who treated the assassin of Lincoln.

The Lord still commands and demands obedience. Thankfully, Christ has borne the penalty for our unfaithfulness and disobedience! His name became “Mudd” for us on the Cross. He became sin for us to pay for our treason (as He did for believing Israel in the Old Testament). Often there are consequences for our sins that affect those around us. When we sin, the Lord’s name is ridiculed by a watching world. May we seek obedience in faith, that this watching world might see our Lord faithfully leading His people, enabling us to live lives of holiness and peace.