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Colonial Craftsmen Names

Colonial Craftsmen Names
Opening the door to America's colonial past reveals some very antiquated names that were worn by early craftsmen. Many of the names borne by Colonial furniture and clockmakers are what you’d expect — classic biblical names such as Jacob and Solomon, as well as traditional English names like William and Oliver.

Along with Jacob and William, other Colonial craftsman names in the US Top 100 include Caleb, Elias, Josiah, Levi, Miles, Samuel, Silas, and Thomas. Among the more surprising names found in furniture directories of the period are Gamaliel, Hercules, Kenelm, and Peregrine.

Colonial-era Americans also held onto the trend of Puritanical virtue names, evident in craftsmen named Prudent and Noble. Browse our collection of Colonial Craftsmen names below.
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SilasHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "wood, forest"
  • Description:

    Silas is based on the name Silvanus, and the two are used interchangeably in the Bible. In the New Testament, St. Silas was a leading member of the early Christian community who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey. Sylvanus was the Roman god of trees and his name was originally bestowed on people who lived in wooded areas or who worked with wood.

EzraHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "help"
  • Description:

    Ezra is potentially an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase Azaryahu, meaning “Yah helps.” In the Bible, Ezra led a group of fifteen hundred Israelites out of slavery in Babylon and back to Jerusalem. The Latin name Esdras derives from Ezra.

CalebHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "devotion to God"
  • Description:

    Caleb has two potential derivations, the first being from the Hebrew kelev, meaning “dog,” and the second from the Hebrew components kal and lev, together meaning “whole heart.” In the Old Testament Caleb is one of only two ancient Israelites (Joshua was the other) who set out from Egypt to finally enter the promised land.

ThomasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "twin"
  • Description:

    Thomas is the Greek variation of the Aramaic name Ta’oma’. It came about because there were too many apostles named Judas; Jesus renamed one Thomas—meaning "twin"—to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and the Judas also known as Thaddeus. At first, it was used only for priests.

LeviHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "joined, attached"
  • Description:

    In the Old Testament, Levi was the third son of Leah and Jacob, from whom the priestly tribe of Levites descended; in the New Testament, Levi was Matthew's given name before he became an apostle. It is suspected that Levi derives from the Hebrew word yillaweh, meaning “he will join.”
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JosiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God supports, heals"
  • Description:

    Josiah is derived from Yoshiyahu, a Hebrew name from the components yoshi, meaning “support,” and Yahu, referring to the Hebrew god. In the Old Testament, Josiah was an upright king of Judah from the age of eight, after his father Amon was murdered. Josias is a related Latin variation that is found in some biblical translations.

MilesHeart

  • Origin:

    English form of Milo
  • Meaning:

    "soldier or merciful"
  • Description:

    Miles, which took on a permanent veneer of cool thanks to jazz great Miles Davis, is a confident and polished boy name starting with M that has been appreciated in particular by celebrity baby namers, including Elisabeth Shue, Mayim Bialik, Larenz Tate, Joan Cusack and Lionel Ritchie.

JacobHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "supplanter"
  • Description:

    Jacob comes from the Latin name Iacobus, which was ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov. In the Old Testament, Jacob was one of the most important patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. He was the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the twin brother of Esau, as well as the husband of both Leah and Rachel. The 12 tribes of Israel evolved from his 12 sons.

ElijahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Yahweh is God"
  • Description:

    Elijah is derived from the Hebrew name Eliyahu, composed of the elements ’el and yah, both of which refer to God. In the Old Testament, Elijah was the prophet who went to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elias is the related, Greek variation of Elijah.

EliasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek variation of Elijah, Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Yahweh is God"
  • Description:

    Elias, strong and charismatic, is following in the path of family members Elijah and Eli, and is also moving on up in popularity.
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NathanielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Nathaniel was derived from the Hebrew name Netan’el, meaning “gift of God,” composed of the elements natan, meaning “to give,” and ’el, in reference to God. The name is featured several times in the Old and New Testaments, typically spelled Nathanael. In the New Testament, Nathanael is also known by his other name, Bartholomew.

OliverHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Oliver derives from Olivier, the Norman French variation of the Ancient Germanic name Alfher or the Old Norse Aleifr, which comes from Olaf. Olivier emerged as the dominant spelling for its associations with the Latin word oliva, meaning "olive tree." Oliver was used as a given name in medieval England after the spread of the French epic poem ‘La Chanson de Roland,’ which features a character named Olivier.

GideonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "hewer; or, having a stump for a hand"
  • Description:

    Gideon is a no-longer neglected Old Testament name, but still makes an excellent choice for parents looking to move beyond such overused biblicals as Benjamin and Jacob. In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called on by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites, and the name was popular among the Puritans.

WilliamHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "resolute protection"
  • Description:

    William is derived from the Germanic name Wilhelm, composed of the elements wil, "will," and helm, referring to a helmet or protection. The name was introduced to England by William the Conqueror, with William being the Norman variation of the name. In Central and Southern France, it was translated as Guillaume.

EliHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "ascended, uplifted, high"
  • Description:

    Eli derives from the Hebrew ’aly, meaning “high.” In the Old Testament, Eli was the high priest and last judge of Israel, who trained the prophet Samuel. While Eli is a full name on its own, it can be a shortened form of Elijah, Elias, Eliezer, or even Elliot. Eli is used as a feminine name—most often as a nickname for Elisabet or Elin—in some Scandinavian countries.
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SamuelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "told by God"
  • Description:

    Samuel was derived from the Hebrew name Shemu’el, meaning “told by God.” In the Old Testament, Samuel was one of the great judges and prophets of the Israelites, destined for a holy life from birth. He established the Hebrew monarchy, anointing both Saul and David as kings.

SimonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "the listener"
  • Description:

    Simon is pure and simple (not in the nursery rhyme sense), and an appealingly genuine Old and New Testament name that's not overused -- making Simon a stylish choice. In the Bible, Simon was the second son of Jacob and Leah and the original name of Saint Peter, as well as the name of several New Testament figures. Historically, Simon Bolivar is known as The Liberator of Latin America.

SethHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "appointed, placed"
  • Description:

    The long-neglected name of Adam and Eve's third son after Cain and Abel, Seth is appreciated for its gentle, understated presence -- and strong middle-name potential. It reached a high of Number 63 in the year 2000.

ReubenHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "behold, a son"
  • Description:

    Reuben is derived from the Hebrew words ra’a, meaning "to see, to understand," and ben, "son." As a phrase it translates to "behold, a son." In the Bible, Reuben is Jacob's first-born son by Leah and the founder of one of the tribes of Israel.

NicholasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "people of victory"
  • Description:

    Nicholas is derived from the Greek Nikolaos, a name that evolved from the components nikē, meaning “victory”, and laos, “people.” It shares origins with Nike, the name of the Greek goddess of victory. Nicholas is also a New Testament name that is well-used in literature, such as in Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby.
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AsaHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew; Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "healer; born in the morning"
  • Description:

    A short but strong biblical name with multicultural appeal, Asa is enjoying new visibility thanks to hot young actor Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame.

AbelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "breath"
  • Description:

    Abel, the name of Adam and Eve's unfortunate younger son, compensates with positive connotations: capable, competent, ready and willing.

IsaiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Salvation of the Lord"
  • Description:

    Isaiah derives from the Hebrew Yesha’yahu, containing the elements yasha’, meaning “to save,” and yah, in reference to the Hebrew god. The biblical Isaiah, son of Amos, was the most important of the major prophets, with an Old Testament book named for him. He prophesized that the Children of Israel would be exiled from their homeland, but that God would bring the back.

GeorgeHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "farmer"
  • Description:

    Iconoclasts though we may be, we like Fred, we like Frank, and we like George, which was among the Top 10 from 1830 to 1950, when the number of little Georges started to decline. Solid, strong, royal and saintly, yet friendly and unpretentious, we think that George is in prime position for a comeback, especially since it was chosen by Britain's royal couple.

PhineasHeart

  • Origin:

    English, Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "the Nubian"
  • Description:

    Phineas is the English variation of Phinehas, a Hebrew name likely derived from the Egyptian name Pa-nehasi. Pa-nehasi, meaning “the Nubian” can also be translated as “the bronze-colored one.” The Egyptians distinguished themselves from their Nubian neighbors through differences in skin tone.
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AmosHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "carried by God"
  • Description:

    Amos is a robust biblical name that's being discovered by a new generation of parents in a major way.

SolomonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "peace"
  • Description:

    Solomon, a name that evokes wisdom and peace, is an Old Testament name that, along with other patriarchal classics, is finally beginning to shed its long white beard and step from the pages of the Old Testament into modern nurseries.

MatthiasHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic variation of Matthew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    With Matthew sounding somewhat exhausted, and ancient endings sounding new again, this New Testament apostolic name makes an appealing and recommended choice. Both Mathias and Matias are well used in the Hispanic community, and throughout Europe. Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife chose Matias for their second son.

EdmundHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fortunate protector"
  • Description:

    The sophisticated Edmund and its nearly-identical French twin Edmond are coming out of mothballs now that Edward, inspired by Twilight, is once again a hot name.

AnselHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "with divine protection"
  • Description:

    Ansel, primarily associated with the great western photographer Ansel Adams, famed for his magnificent photographs of the Yosemite Valley, could make a creative artist-hero choice. For Adams it was a family name – he was named after his uncle, Ansel Easton. And, in turn, Adams was the namesake of young heartthrob Ansel Elgort, son of a photographer.
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JoelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Jehovah is his God"
  • Description:

    In the Old Testament, Joel was one of King David's 'mighty men' and the name was taken up by the Puritans of the sixteenth century. In the mid 1960s, Joel entered the Top 100, and stayed there for about twenty years, as parents tried to jazz up and formalize old standby Joe by reviving this biblical name.

EphraimHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "fruitful, fertile, productive"
  • Description:

    Ephraim is an Old Testament name we would place high on the list of neglected Biblical possibilities, solid but not solemn.

AldenHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "old, wise friend"
  • Description:

    Hot young actor Alden Ehrenreich, the new Han Solo, gives this formerly-stodgy surname name an attractive new image, making it a fresh successor to Aiden or Holden. Before it got this fresh shine, Alden was among the classic Thanksgiving baby names.

NehemiahHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "comforted by God"
  • Description:

    Nehemiah is an Old Testament name used by the Puritans, whose white-bearded image kept it out of favor for centuries, until it suddenly reappeared in 1998, along with the more user-friendly Josiah and Isaiah.

EnochHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "dedicated"
  • Description:

    A major figure in the Old Testament, Enoch was the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah, and the great-grandfather of Noah whose Book of Enoch provides a focal point for ancient Jewish mysticism. Another Enoch was the son of Cain. "Enoch Arden" is a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. On the negative side, British politician Enoch Powell gave the infamously racist Rivers of Blood anti-immigration speech, taking the name out of consideration for many parents in the UK.
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DuncanHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "dark warrior"
  • Description:

    Duncan is jaunty, confident, and open, a Scottish royal name that's brimming with friendly charm and makes it into our golden circle of names that are neither too popular nor too strange. Popularity aside, Duncan is one of the most classic Scottish names for boys.

PeregrineHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "traveler, pilgrim"
  • Description:

    Peregrine is considered to be an elegantly aristocratic name in England, but has never made it to the U.S., where it has been seen as extravagantly eccentric. In the new naming climate, though, it's not beyond consideration — in fact it's already been chosen by at least one Berry.

AbnerHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of light."
  • Description:

    This neglected Biblical name--it was the name of the commander of Saul's army and appears twice in the New Testament--is ready to flee Dogpatch. It was regularly used in the nineteenth century, but was pretty much demolished by the long-running hillbilly comic strip L'il Abner, which began in 1934 and ran through 1977. A more respectable namesake is Abner Doubleday, who has been credited with inventing baseball.

LeonardHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brave lion"
  • Description:

    Leonard is the name of several saints, including one who is the patron saint of childhood, and another medieval saint who's the patron of prisoners--known for freeing prisoners he deemed worthy of God. Popular from 1900 to 1930, Leonard is perhaps more notable for those who dropped the name when they entered show biz than those who kept it: former Leonards include Roy Rogers and Tony Randall. Two musical Leonards did keep their names though--composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein and poet-singer Leonard Cohen. Leonard Woolf was the husband and publisher of great English novellist Virginia Woolf. These days, modern parents tend to prefer Leo or the romantic Italian Leonardo, especially since Leonard does not get pronounced with the trendy "Leo" sound.

SimeonHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is listening"
  • Description:

    Could Simeon be the next Gideon? Parents seeking a less simple form of Simon might consider this biblical appellation that was chosen by Wynton Marsalis for his son. Simon is actually the Greek substitute for Simeon.
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AbrahamHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "father of multitudes"
  • Description:

    Abraham is among the most classic baby names that's still widely-used today, popular for its references to both the Bible and American history. The Biblical Abraham was the first of the Old Testament patriarchs and is considered the founding father of the Jewish people. He was originally named Abram, until, according to Genesis, he was told, "No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations."

LutherHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army people"
  • Description:

    Once restricted to evangelical Protestants honoring the ecclesiastical reformer and theologian Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant revolution. In more recent times it has been favored by parents wishing to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. Luther was a Top 100 name at the turn of the last century, but fell off the list in the early 1990s.
    Luther Burbank was an eminent botanist and Luther Vandross was a popular R&B artist. It's the name of a main character on the Disney series Zeke and Luther. The name was given a shot of contemporary energy via Idris Elba's dynamic performance in the eponymous BBC crime drama.

MosesHeart

  • Origin:

    Egyptian
  • Meaning:

    "delivered from the water"
  • Description:

    Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's choice of this white-bearded Old Testament name helped bring it into the modern age, along with brethren Elijah, Isaiah and Isaac. User-friendly nicknames include Moe and Mose.

JoachimHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "Established by God"
  • Description:

    Joachim is an undiscovered biblical name with potential, although most modern parents would probably prefer the more lively Spanish version, Joaquin. Like many Old Testament names, it was primarily in use in the seventeenth century, and then became rare. In the Bible Joachim is a king of Judah; according to the Gospel of James, Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of the Virgin Mary.
    br/>Currently well-used in France, the name Joachim is known in countries and languages around the world and pronounced somewhat differently in each. While American might be most familiar with the Spanish version of the name, Joaquin via actor Joaquin Phoenix, that pronunciation wah-keen is not similar to any of the pronunciations of Joachim, which all have three syllables often with the emphasis on the second.

AllenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "handsome, cheerful"
  • Description:

    Allen is the spelling of this name -- other common spellings are Alan and Allan -- most associated with the surname; it might also be the most appropriate if you're trying to steer clear of Al as a nickname, as this can easily offer you Len or Lenny as options.
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GilbertHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "shining pledge"
  • Description:

    Considered ultra debonair in the silent-movie era, Gilbert then went through a nerdy phase, a la Gilbert Gottfried. Now though, like Albert and Alfred and Walter and Frank, it could be in for a style revival.

JobHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "persecuted"
  • Description:

    If you focus on the patience of the biblical Job, rather than his trials, the name becomes more usable. He was, after all, the Old Testament hero of the Book of Job, whose faith was severely tested by God but remained faithful. The name was was used by Puritans and Christian fundamentalists and can be found in the novels of Dickens, George Eliot and Robert Louis Stevenson..

EbenezerHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "stone of help"
  • Description:

    Ebenezer is the name of a biblical place --the stone set up by Samuel to mark his victory over the Philistines--rather than a person. It was adopted by the British Puritans as a first name and then exported to America, where it had some early popularity, even entering the Top 1000 in the 1880s.

JabezHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "borne in pain"
  • Description:

    Jabez has a rare combo of three appealing elements: a Biblical heritage, a captivating Southern accent, and a jazzy feel. It was popular with the Pilgrims and on into the nineteenth century (there have been four U.S. Congressmen named Jabez), but it hasn't been in the Top 1000 since 1880.

LemuelHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "devoted to God"
  • Description:

    Lemuel is a neglected Old Testament name, with the friendly nickname Lem, that we're surprised hasn't been picked up on by parents who have known too many Samuels.
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