Category: Puritan names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
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:
- Amity—like 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.
- Clarity—we like it much better than Charity or—oh no—Chastity. And Clare makes a nice short form.
- Clemency—Clemency, 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.
- 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.
6. Turkey Names
VINTAGE NAMES: What era are you?
Unless you’re a baby namer focused on finding a newly created or cutting-edge name, chances are you’ve considered using one from the past. But which part of the past? An ancient name or one from earlier in the 20th century?
So, the question of the week is: Which of these, if any, are you partiularly attracted to?
- Ancient names like Atticus?
- Medieval names like Isolde?
- Puritan like Prudence?
- Frilly Victorian valentines?
- 1880s-90s names like Minnie or Oscar?
- 1900s-10s choices like Ruby or Raymond?
- 1920s-40s like Betty or Billy?
- 1950s-60s such as Kimberly or Kevin?
- 1970s -80s like Amy, Ashley or Amanda?
Needless to say, many if not most names move across time and are rarely connected to only one decade or even era–future berries just might think of Atticus as a 2010s name.
In the most recent list of Most Popular Boys ‘ Names, all five of the top five names came from the Good Book, accounting for well over 100,000 of the boy babies born in the US. Obviously, many parents–whether for religious reasons or not–continue to be attracted to names with this strong traditional base. But why, we ask, be limited to the same relatively small group of biblical choices, when there are loads of other more unusual options out there? Why not Joab or Joah instead of Noah? Beniah rather than Benjamin? Jemuel in place of Samuel?
Many of these now obscure names were quite commonly used by the Puritan Colonists, especially in New England, until the middle of the 19th century when Old Testament names fell out of favor. Most of the names listed below are hardly heard today, with only one of them–Asa–even appearing in the current Top 1000, but they are all possible alternatives to those standards that are given to thousands of babies each year.