Category: virtue 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:
When it came to looks and style, Marvin had it all. Decked out in saddle shoes, mustard yellow corduroy pants, and a maroon V-neck sweater, he had a commanding presence, and owned any room he entered. A creature of few words, Marvin was a cartoon connoisseur who also enjoyed more serious fare like Punky Brewster and Silver Spoons. An avid athlete, Marvin delighted in playing Frisbee, and never flinched, even when the plastic disc was speeding directly toward his forehead. Granted, to most, Marvin was only a three-foot-tall stuffed monkey with Velcro hands, but to me, he was my silent partner in crime and constant companion throughout my childhood. He was the Sonny to my Cher.
While Marv and I shared many adventures, from the time we earned a whole dollar selling warm lemonade to parched pedestrians, to the summer during which he accompanied me to overnight camp (because taking a giant saddle shoe-wearing stuffed monkey to camp is totally cool), our best times were definitely had together on family vacations.
When Marvin and I were in first grade, my parents took us, along with my older brother, on a trip to Boston, Massachusetts, where I quickly developed a love of American History. I adored the architecture and historical sites (never mind that I thought Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables was actually “The House of Seven Gay Bulls”), and Marv and I enjoyed wearing Minutemen hats while walking on the Freedom Trail and visiting Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.
For several years now, word names have been singled out as being at the extreme edge of cool—we may have been guilty of pushing that edge ourselves at times. But I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to pull back a little, and put the brakes on. Celebrities have tried to outdo each other to sometimes eye-rolling effect in the effort to find a ‘unique’, attention-grabbing word name : I’m not naming names but I might mention a few words like zeppelin and pirate and peanut.
Of course there are word names and there are word names and probably the most acceptable and appealing are the centuries-old Virtue names created by the early and most zealous Pilgrims to display their righteous religiosity. Though such excessive male phrase-names as Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith and Fly-fornication are long gone, the simpler girl virtue names have not only survived but some are now downright trendy: Grace, Hope, Faith, and, more recently, Felicity, True and Honor.
Other worthy examples include:
Maybe there are certain kinds of names that you really like–flower or color names, say, or virtue names– but you’re reluctant to use one of the more obvious examples, the epidemically popular ones, attractive though they may be. Well, there’s no reason you have to limit yourself to those few; more and more parents are digging deeper into those appealing categories and coming up with newer sounding choices.
IRIS (not exotic, but long neglected)