A Thanksgiving Menu of Pilgrim Names

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.

The passenger list of the Mayflower, which set off on its transatlantic journey in 1620, had a different element, in that about half of its passengers were members of the fundamentalist Protestant sect known as Pilgrims.  And although many Pilgrims were content to use Bible-sanctioned names, the more extreme of them considered such names blasphemous and so invented their own ‘virtue’ or ‘slogan’  names consisting of ordinary vocabulary  words, ranging from Abstinence and Ashes to Zeal-for-the-Lord.

So while most of the 102 men, women, and children aboard the Mayflower–the future settlers of  the Plymouth Colony–were named John, Mary, James, Edward, Thomas, William, Elizabeth, Susannah or Sarah, there were also among them those with such distinctive, attention-worthy names as:













MYLES (yes, Standish)

OCEANUS (born during the voyage)



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11 Responses to “A Thanksgiving Menu of Pilgrim Names”

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Emmy Jo Says:

November 26th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Bartholomew’s my kitten’s name! I know you’ve said the “mew” sound at the end is unfortunate on a little boy, but I’ll argue that makes it fabulous on a kitten. Myles/Miles (in spite of its apparent “hipster” status) is one that’s under consideration for a future son.

I’ve always been intrigued by Damaris. It’s beautiful when pronounced with the stress on the middle syllable (də-MAR-is), but Behind the Name says it should be pronounced DAM-ə-ris, which is less intuitive for me and significantly less attractive (being that it contains a swear word and all). How do you pronounce it?

linda Says:

November 26th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

I’ve checked several authoritative sources, and though there’s some difference of opinion , I think da-MAR-is more correct, as in da-MAS-cus.

stephanie-elizabeth Says:

June 21st, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I love the name Remember…my only issue is coming up with a cute nickname. I love pretty long names, as long as they have a useable nickname.

Erin Says:

August 2nd, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I have a Damaris who is 9 years old now. Her name is as distinctive as she is 🙂 I emphasize the middle syllable. I also saw another meaning for it: “a wise woman” named after a Damaris in the bible. That is the meaning I tell her! It is popular among urban Latino culture, which is where I originally heard it. I taught in North Philadelphia. Damaris is a wonderful choice!

Cruice Sheryll Says:

November 27th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hi everyone, it’s Thanksgiving Day! I’m happy with my extra day off, and I am planning to make something fun that will probably involve a moto trip and seeing something new in Auburn I haven’t seen yet.
You write something new at Thanksgiving?

Bethanie Says:

November 2nd, 2010 at 9:45 pm

To the pp…
I knew a girl named Remember once! It was SO sweet, and she loved her name. She went by Mem most of the time, but memmy, remy, and Ember also came up. 🙂

indiefendi Says:

November 27th, 2014 at 12:48 am

I’ve been crushing on Bartholomew for a while now! I love an underused Biblical name.

Damaris I’m surprised to see here! Another Biblical favorite of mine that sounds so modern!

I think Love should be more popular as a virtue name. Faith, Grace, Hope, and Charity are so boring these days (nice, but boring). Love is kinda exotic and simple at the same time.

Ocean I like by itself. Oceanus reminds me of an alien name.

indiefendi Says:

November 27th, 2014 at 12:49 am

I have a neighbor named Memory. Remember is awful though.

miloowen Says:

November 27th, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Degory is a version of Digory… Love and Wrestling were the sons of William Brewster, whose other children were Patience, Fear, Mary, and Jonathan.

maggiemary Says:

November 28th, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I love, love, love Bartholomew but I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to use it, at least not as a first name.

Saranel Says:

December 2nd, 2014 at 2:15 am

I adore Bartholomew and have since reading The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins as a child. Unfortunately DH is NOT onboard. I think Arlo would be a great nn to help avoid Bart or Barry.

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