Category: occupational names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s become a Nameberry tradition every Labor Day to offer a blog on occupational surname names. This year, we’ve tried to find some examples beyond the usual Coopers and Hunters and Masons and look for less obvious ones. And though many, if not most, of these original occupations no longer exist in the modern world, they are all still good, employable names.
We were admiring the name Calliope the other day (yes, after all these years, we still love names enough to sit around and think about how much we like them) and we started thinking: What a good name for a musician to choose for her child.
Whether or not you’d name a baby after your profession in real life, it’s a fun thing to consider.
It’s Labor Day weekend, and so time once more to turn our attention to the original, pre-barbecue significance of the holiday and celebrate some hard-working occupational names.
We’re focusing on the more uncommon, fresher sounding examples, and those with less obvious meanings, so no Archer, Shepherd or Baker. The er-ending trade names have continued their popularity run, with some individual examples rising (Ryder, Sawyer, Tucker) and others falling (Cooper, Carter, Hunter, Tanner).
Here are some examples of occupational surname names that still seem fresh enough to consider, together with the sometimes surprising trades they originally represented—even if it was so long ago that many don’t have much meaning in today’s world:
The er-ending brigade:
Banner— flag bearer
Barker –stripper of bark from trees for tanning
Baxter— a baker, usually female
Beamer — trumpet player
Booker — scribe
Bouvier—French for herdsman
Boyer — bow maker, cattle herder
Brenner — charcoal burner
Brewster — brewer of beer
Bridger — builder of bridges
Carver — sculptor
See all our lists of cool baby names here.
Cool baby names often share a certain something: an initial (like O), an origin (like Irish), or a sound — like -er at the end.
Dozens of the cool baby names for boys today share the –er ending, along with a handful of choices for girls. Some of these are traditional first names but more are surname-names and occupational names.
Of course, Jennifer and Christopher were not the only popular names or even the first to feature –er at their end. Long-used –er names include Peter and Alexander, other trendy 1980s choices are Amber and Heather, and widely-used popular names that end in –er include such divergent choices as Oliver and Winter, Skyler and Spencer, River and Ryker, Harper and Hunter.
And then, as happens with name trends, there are dozens of choices that are more unusual and more stylish. Among the most appealing are the traditional boys’ names that share the –er ending:
For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column. But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.
Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting. George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton. Nothing too juicy there.
But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story. Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:
Some prime examples:
- Abel Cottey
- Abiel Chandler
- Abner Toppan
- Ansel Goodwin
- Asa Holden
- Chauncey Boardman, Jerome
- Duncan Phyfe
- Ebenezer Knowlton, Tracy, Parmalee
- Elbert Anderson
- Eli Terry
- Elias Ingraham
- Elijah Booth, Sanderson
- Eliphaler Chapin
- Elisha DeWolfe, Jr
- Elnathan Taber
- Enos Doolittle
- Ephraim Haines, Downes
- Everadus Bogardus
- Garvan Carver
- Gawen Brown
- Gerrard Hopkins
- Gideon Roberts
- Heman Clark
- Hercules Courtenay