Category: antique names
Sarahmezz’s thread in the forums, which asks What are your grandparents’ names?, sounded like an intriguing one to put to the Nameberry community.
Indeed, the question has been asked before, but never as our official Question of the Week.
So please let us know your grandparents’ names, your great-grandparents’ names, and which you’d pass on to the next generation.
For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column. But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.
Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting. George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton. Nothing too juicy there.
But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story. Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:
Some prime examples:
- Abel Cottey
- Abiel Chandler
- Abner Toppan
- Ansel Goodwin
- Asa Holden
- Chauncey Boardman, Jerome
- Duncan Phyfe
- Ebenezer Knowlton, Tracy, Parmalee
- Elbert Anderson
- Eli Terry
- Elias Ingraham
- Elijah Booth, Sanderson
- Eliphaler Chapin
- Elisha DeWolfe, Jr
- Elnathan Taber
- Enos Doolittle
- Ephraim Haines, Downes
- Everadus Bogardus
- Garvan Carver
- Gawen Brown
- Gerrard Hopkins
- Gideon Roberts
- Heman Clark
- Hercules Courtenay
Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices? We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.
It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names. After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.
Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.
They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.
One of the most popular lists on nameberry is the Old Lady Cool Names: names that have been in retirement for several decades now but just might be ready for a comeback.
Antique names for both sexes are popular too, as parents search for names that are out of the ordinary yet have the backing of tradition.
Some of the quirkier old-school names — Olive, Rufus, Hazel, Edwin — have already been resuscitated by hipster parents. But what are the less obvious old gems worthy of a fresh look? We wouldn’t necessarily stake the farm (or the loft) on the comeback of the following, but parents who are both adventurous and tradition-minded may want to consider these choices:
What did everyone think?, she asked. Was Vera fresh and appealing? Or did it still sound too old-ladyish? Did people have other V names they might suggest?
Vera Adelaide was born to Melody and Richard on October 27. Her mom, Melody, found out about the name on this website and fell in love with the meaning and sound. She’ll be called Vera. Her siblings are Elizabeth Rae and Elliot Gray. They got their names from Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison and Montana. They are called Lizzie and Elliot.
Vera was in the Top 100 from 1890 to 1930 when it started a long downward slide, now not in the Top 1000. But it’s recently started to be reappreciated by a new generation of parents taking a second look at such antique names as Ada, Iris, and Josephine. With the wonderful meaning “truth,” Vera also connects with a range of V names newly in fashion, from those with V beginnings such as Vivienne, Violet, and Victor to such favorites as Ava, Olivia, and Evan.