Category: virtue names
I was looking this morning through the list of baby names that have entered the US Top 1000 since the turn of the decade — more, much more, on that later — and I was struck by how many of them overstate the case.
In early editions of our first book Beyond Jennifer & Jason, we included a list called Names That Are Too Much, or Not Enough, To Live Up To. Then somewhere along the way, we dropped it. But clearly it’s time to bring it back.
Baby name style is a highly personal thing, and I’m always surprised by the names on birth announcements. Sure, I can guess with sometimes frightening accuracy what parents will have shortlisted for baby #2 or #3, but they’ve already showed their hand by then. Until they’ve hinted at what they’re thinking of for their firstborn, baby name style is surprisingly tough to guess.
Over the summer, I met three siblings, all living in the same area, each with a daughter about the same age. The three girls’ names could have easily belonged to sisters, even triplets: Annabelle, Georgia, and Phoebe. The women of the family clearly share the same general style – so much that I’d guess there must have been some consternation when they found out they were all expecting daughters within the same year.
For every situation where two former roommates both want to use Ethan James for their sons, there are plenty of cases where, no matter how much sisters or friends have in common, name style is simply not one of them. You roll your eyes when your BFF suggests Kestrel, only to hear your sis describe Eleanor as too old-fashioned.
6. Turkey Names
With gloomy and depressing headlines hitting the news every day about international trouble spots and the tanking economy, what’s a forward-looking, optimistic baby namer, who wants to project a warm, welcoming, positive sense of the world to her innocent little newbie, to do?
Here are a few strategy suggestions.
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: