Category: family history names
My love for genealogy came from my interest in discovering names I had never heard before. There is something special about being able to connect yourself to a rare gem of a name, and being able to connect that name to your ancestor’s history.
In addition to individual names, there are also some interesting patterns I’ve noticed while researching the branches of my various family trees. Some eras favored word names while others preferred patriotic names. Some branches were filled with unique names, while others stuck with the more traditional. One trend I’ve noticed is that “sibset” naming wasn’t considered until the 20th century. There often seemed to be a wide variety of names among siblings, yet, it wasn’t strange to have two sons named Joseph or three daughters named Elizabeth.
I love a family name.
It doesn’t matter if the family is the ruling house of a sovereign nation or the neighbors down the street. If you would like to tell me about the great names on your tree, I’m all ears.
So when my aunt mentioned that she had inherited boxes of old family photos from her mother, my grandmother, I immediately volunteered to sort through them and upload information to a genealogy website as we worked.
Aided by wine and technology, we delved into three huge bins.
It was thrilling to discover pictures of my ancestors – great-uncles and great-grandparents as children, other photos from so far in the past that we determine exactly who was in the picture.
But the biggest thrill for me was discovering so many great names. I’d always thought that there wasn’t much excitement, name-wise, on my dad’s family tree.
I was so wrong.
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:
The question of the week: How would you go about honoring a namesake?
In choosing a name, there’s nothing more meaningful than paying tribute to a beloved family member, ancestor or friend. Namesake names can connect your child to her heritage, and convey the essence of a loved one, bestowing their most admirable qualities on your child. Personal heroes of the past or present can form the basis of worthy namesake names as well.
Would you approach this by:
- Using the name verbatim as a first name?
- Modernizing or modifying it in some way? Changing Mildred to Millicent of Millie, for example? Finding another name with a similar meaning?
- Using it as a middle name?
- Considering the honoree’s middle or last name if you didn’t love their first?
- Would you ever consider making your son a Junior or a II or a III?
- Would you use the name of an ancestor you never knew?
- Would you consider the name of a personal hero?
So have you honored a namesake in your child’s name–or would you in the future?
The nameberry question of the week: Have you discovered any great names on your family tree?
Have you found inspiration in any previous generation’s first, middle or surnames? Have you researched your ancestry on the web in hopes of coming upon a wonderful name?
Have you already used or are you planning to use any ancestral names for your children, and if so, in first or middle place? How far back did you go? Do you feel that this will forge a meaningful connection between your child and her roots?
Did you consider using a variation–a nickname, a modernization, a different spelling?
Care to share your discoveries?