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:
Mehitable— a variation of Mehitabel, a Biblical name.
Solace–a beautiful virtue name.
Wealthy—I’m not sure why this was used for daughters or why it was so common. I first discovered this name in a small cemetery in Old Lyme where I grew up, on a Wealthy Ann Chadwick who lived during the end of the eighteenth century.
Abijah— a very common Biblical name in Puritan and colonial times. It’s related to the modern Hebrew name Aviya.
Asaph —as with Abijah, Assaf is common in both Hebrew and Arabic.
Consider—a highly unusual virtue name used frequently in the Brewster family.
Leslie E. Owen, known to her fellow berries as miloowen, was born in Massachusetts, raised in Connecticut and attended the University of Arizona. She has worked in publishing in New York and Canada, taught creative writing and has published articles and short stories. Her first book for children, Pacific Tree Frogs, was published in Canada, the UK and Australia by Tradewind Books and in the US by Crocodile Books. Leslie currently teaches high school English in Florida and is completing a novel.
Have you ever searched your family’s genealogy and come up with some surprises?