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Early American names - Manifestos of the Moon

About Early American names

Previous Entry Early American names Oct. 28th, 2005 @ 02:23 am Next Entry
I always wondered if Submit Butts was reluctant to tell anyone her name. She lives in 18th century New England at a time when Submit was a common enough name for a girl. But even in those days her last name had to make her first name rather embarrassing.

But then, Puritan names were like that. They often named their children the way they wanted them to behave: Submit, of course, but also Obedience, Mindwell, Silence, Content, Prudence, Patience, Humility, Constance, Thankful, Grace, and Temperance were all common enough names to give a girl. If you wanted to make sure your daughter learned well you named her (well, why not?) Remember. Wanted accurate work? Choose a name like Precise. Wanted her to show resolve? Name her Resolved. Wanted Christian virtures? Name her Charity, Peace, Hope, Mercy, Glory, Deliverance, Easteror even Christian.

We have to wonder, however, about those puritan parents who named their girls Desire, Love, Delight, Experience Freedom, or Freelove. There's something a little more worldly going on there than we normally think of with Puritans.

They did it to boys too, of course, though not as often. Wait and Waitstill were common boy names, as were Consider, Freegrace, Hopestill, Increase, BetteruResolved and Deliverance. I even found an 18th century American boy named Joy--although I suppose it might have been a misspelling of Joey.

I also found a Puritan child named Fear, though whether it was boy or girl I could not determine.

Of course, not all 17th and 18th century American names were admonishions. Most in fact came directly from the Bible. Today parents like to give names a twist by using alternate spellings. Since early Americans lived before spelling was codified, odd spellings were the rule: Willyam for William; Loice for Lois; Lycy and Luce for Lucy; Peeter and Petter for Peter; Moyses for Moses; Ame and Amee for Amy; Allice and Alles for Alice; Giels and Gyles for Giles; Robart for Robert; Serra, Sara and Sary for Sarah; Humillitie, Humillity, Humillyty for Humility, and so on.

And then there were Puritan names which are just plain intriguing. Girl names like Achsa, Selinda, Sabra, Zilpah, Sinah, Huldah, Beriah, Tamma, Currence, Keziah, Tamzen, Zurniah, Eliphaal, Tamer, Edy, Zerviah, Damaris, Zeporah, Maral, Rumah, Siana, Constanta, Zylpha, Barradell, Neltje, Oceanus. Boy names like Perigrine, Evi, Issacher, Camp, Esme, Abijah, Electus, Epenetus, Zophar, Zalmon, Zibey, Mayhew, Heman, Eleazer, Eliahib, Feathergill, Elnathan, Assel, Eliakim, Smallwood, Eliphalet, Orestes, Benoni, Asahel, Jabish, Pasco, Hallet. Pelatiah, Benadam, and Beebe.

I'll end with a question. 18th century records show that Jerusha was married to Hezekiah. Which was the wife, which the husband?
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