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Restoration Comedy Names for Girls: Amaryllis, Araminta and Prue

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By Amy of histornamia

While the Elizabethan/Jacobean playwright William Shakespeare has had a long influence on the names of children, his Restoration successors haven’t had as much impact on the name game. But when looking through character lists of these Restoration comedies, written between 1660-1710, there are some fabulous names to be found, some that have been heard of since, like Amanda, Julia and Sylvia, and some that are extremely rare. Here are thirteen of the more interesting feminine names from the most popular Restoration comedies of the day.

Amaryllis – As seen in 1671’s The Rehearsal, which was published anonymously, though prominent courtier, George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, was most likely the writer. The name Amaryllis is of Greek origin and means ‘to sparkle’.

Araminta – As seen in 1693’s The Old Bachelor by William Congreve, the name is actually a disguise for the character of Sylvia. Araminta is a hybrid of the names Arabella and Aminta as well as having the Greek meaning of ‘defender’.

Bellamira – As seen in 1687’s Bellamira: or, The Mistress by Sir Charles Sedley, she is the heroine of the story, the daughter of a bankrupt merchant who becomes a scheming courtesan. The name Bellamira is made up of two names, Bella and Mira, and means ‘beautiful peace’ or ‘beautiful world’.

Berinthia – As seen in 1696’s The Relapse by John Vanbrugh, she is a vivacious young widow in the play. The name was seemingly created for the play but if broken down to its Latin roots, it means ‘fair happiness’ of ‘fair joy’.

Dorinda – As seen in 1707’s The Beaux Stratagem by George Farquhar, she is the beautiful daughter of Lady Bountiful. The name is of Greek origin and means ‘bountiful gift’.

Florimel – As seen in 1667’s The Maiden Queen by John Dryden, this play is noteworthy for being performed by an all-female cast to highlight the fact that women could now perform on stage for the first time. The role of Florimel was originated by the noted Restoration actress Nell Gwyn, who would go on to become on the most famous of King Charles II’s mistresses. The name Florimel is of Latin origin and means ‘honey flower’.

Laetitia – As seen in 1693’s The Old Bachelor by William Congreve, she is the young wife of an uxorious old banker.  The name Laetitia is of Latin origin and means ‘gladness’ or ‘happiness’.

Lucretia – As seen in 1678’s Sir Patient Fancy by Aphra Behn, who was the first female playwright in England. The character is the young and beautiful second wife to the title character who is an older alderman. The name is of Latin origin and is the female form of Lucretius, but the meaning is unknown.

Margery – As seen in 1675’s The Country Wife by William Wycherley, she is a naive and pure country girl married to an older man. The name Margery is a medieval variant of the name Margaret and has the meaning ‘pearl’.

Millamant – As seen in 1700’s The Way of the World by William Congreve, she is the young and beautiful love of the male Mirabell. This seems to be another name created by Congreve, but it is similar to the name Millicent which means ‘hard worker’.

Narcissa – As seen in 1696’s Love’s Last Shift by Colley Cibber, she is the daughter of the main male character, Sir William Wisewood and lover to Young Worthy. The name is of Greek origin and means ‘daffodil’.

Palmyra – As seen in 1673’s Marriage à la Mode by John Dryden, she is the daughter of the Usurper of Sicily, Polydamas, and is in a romance with the rightful Prince, Leonidas. The name is of Latin origin and means ‘pilgrim, city of palms’.

Prue – As seen in 1695’s Love for Love by William Congreve, she is an awkward country girl. The name is a contracted form of the name Prudence and in Latin means ‘prudence’.

 

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histornamia

Histornamia is the blog-child of Amy, created in order to combine her love of history and interesting names.
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10 Responses to “Restoration Comedy Names for Girls: Amaryllis, Araminta and Prue”

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CsprsSassyHrly Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 9:10 am

I think the only one I really love is Prue. Amaryllis isn’t terrible and Dorinda could be an easily pronounced name that might have recognition more as a cheetah girl, although Doe as a nickname is lovely.

Giinkies Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 10:33 am

I love Amarylllis but I think I’ll have a hard time getting anyone on board with that name. Also the name may be a bit much to fit into a sib set.

Bellamira is nice as I have Mirabella on my list.

author in writing Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Restoration Comedies always have the most interesting names…Sneerwell, Crabtree and Benjamin Backbite being some of my favorites.

ribbons-and-soldiers Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Amaryllis, Florimel, Lucretia, Millamant, Narcissa, and Palmyra are divine.

lesliemarion Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I very much enjoyed this piece.

I like learning something new and it made me want to get season tickets to a restoration comedy company.

lesliemarion Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 11:07 pm

I very much enjoyed this piece.

I like learning something new and it made me want to get season tickets to a restoration comedy company.

Nono Says:

February 28th, 2014 at 11:19 pm

I love this list! Berinthia was the name of the wife of Anthony Perkins, the actor who is best known for playing Norman Bates in Psycho. She went by the nickname Berry. I thought of her as soon as I saw that name on the list.

Aurora Says:

March 1st, 2014 at 1:16 am

How interesting! Narcissa is a guilty pleasure of mine, so it’s nice to see on this list.

lillian85 Says:

March 1st, 2014 at 2:26 am

I really enjoyed reading this post. Amarylllis is lovely!

tori101 Says:

March 2nd, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I love Amaryllis & Araminta!

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