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Category: Pilgrim names

A Thanksgiving Menu of Pilgrim Names

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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.

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Thanksgiving Names:From Myles to Maize

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This year our menu of Thanksgiving names draws on a variety of sources—from the Mayflower passenger list to prominent Pilgrims, to a harvest deity to the bounty of the Turkey Day table.  Enjoy it— with it comes our best wishes for a very happy holiday to all our dear berries.

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Thanksgiving Names

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There are some wonderful names associated with the Thanksgiving holiday–those that came over on the Mayflower and other early settlers, Puritan Virtue names, ancient harvest gods and goddesses–all fit for a late November baby.  Ahead are:

1. Mayflower Names

2. Ocean-crossing Names

3. Harvest Names

4. Plymouth Bay Colony Names

5. Puritan Virtue Names

6. Turkey Names

7. Other Thanksgiving-related Names

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Family Names: Some genealogical gems

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Nameberry Leslie Owen searches through the pages of her family history and digs up some interesting–and sometimes surprisingly modern-sounding– colonial treasures.

One of the reasons I became so interested in names is because I discovered the two-volume edition of the Brewster Genealogy in my grandparents’ house in Maine.  I pored over the pages, discovering unusual family names –Ohel, for example – and names I found beautiful, such as Solace and Wrestling.  I discovered ancestors who were famous and who led incredible lives.  I discovered information that surprised my family.  The books, however, disappeared, much to my great disappointment.  But recently, I was able to download a copy of Volume One from the Boston Public Library, and I am back to using it to make lists and rediscoveries.

William and Mary Brewster had five living children, all of whom eventually came to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Elder William Brewster was the religious leader of the colony, the only one who had to leave England (there was an arrest warrant for him, for treason), and it was his tireless work that kept the survivors alive during that first hard winter, according to Governor William Bradford’s account in Of Plimouth Plantation.  The first names of the Brewsters, who married into the most prestigious New England families, fall into several categories:  Puritan virtue names, Biblical names, classic English names, and what I call Stuart/Georgian names.

Here are twelve girls’ and twelve boys’ names that I’ve found repeatedly throughout the genealogy and that could hold some interesting possibilities for an adventurous nameberry:

Girls

Celinda – one of those Stuart names, like Belinda and Melinda and perhaps a variant of Celeste or Celine.

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Nameberry Picks: 12 Best Virtue Names

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In the seventeenth century, for some of the most puritanical of the Puritans, even biblical and saints’ names were not pure enough to bestow on their children, and so they turned instead to words that embodied the Christian virtues.  These ranged from extreme phrases like Sorry-for-sin and Search-the-Scriptures (which, understandably, never came into general use) to simpler virtue names like Silence and Salvation.

The virtue names that have survived in this country were for the most part the unfussy, one-syllable girls’ names with positive meanings, such as Joy, Hope, Grace and Faith.  But then, in the late 1990s, a door was opened to more elaborate examples by the popularity of the TV show Felicity, and its appealing heroine.  Felicity (also the name of an American Girl Colonial doll) reached a high point on the girls’ list in 1999, a year after the show debuted, leading parents to consider others long forgotten relics.

Here are the Nameberry picks of the twelve best virtue names:

  1. Amitylike all the virtue names ending in ity, Amity has an attractive daintiness combined with an admirable meaning—in this case, friendship.  It could be a modernized (or antiquated, depending how you look at it) namesake for an Aunt Amy.
  2. Clarity—we like it much better than Charity or—oh no—Chastity.  And Clare makes a nice short form.
  3. ClemencyClemency, the name of a character in one of Charles Dicken’s lesser known Christmas novellas, The Battle of Life, can be seen as an offbeat alternative to Clementine.
  4. Constance was originally used in a religious context which has been lost over the years. There are many Constances found in history and literature: there was Constance of Brittany,  mother of young Prince Arthur who appears in Shakespeare’s King John, a daughter of William the Conqueror, and characters in Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer and Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Constance hasn’t been much heard in the 21st century—probably because of the dated nickname Connie.  The Puritans also used Constant.

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