What better time than Thanksgiving to look back at the first names to arrive on our shores?
As you may remember from your third-grade history book, the first English-speaking settlement, called the Raleigh Colony, was established on the Atlantic coast in 1587, and although it didn’t survive for very long, some of its name records did. Not surprisingly, of the 99 men who settled there, 23 were named John, fifteen were Thomas, and ten were William, with a small sprinkling of Old Testament names in the mix as well.
The passenger list of the Mayflower, which set off on its transatlantic journey in 1620, had a different element, in that about half of its passengers were members of the fundamentalist Protestant sect known as Pilgrims. And although many Pilgrims were content to use Bible-sanctioned names, the more extreme of them considered such names blasphemous and so invented their own ‘virtue’ or ‘slogan’ names consisting of ordinary vocabulary words, ranging from Abstinence and Ashes to Zeal-for-the-Lord.
So while most of the 102 men, women, and children aboard the Mayflower–the future settlers of the Plymouth Colony–were named John, Mary, James, Edward, Thomas, William, Elizabeth, Susannah or Sarah, there were also among them those with such distinctive, attention-worthy names as:
MYLES (yes, Standish)
OCEANUS (born during the voyage)