In 1630, a group of English Puritans led by John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Company started a settlement on the Shawmut Peninsula. At first they called it Trimountaine*, after a local hill that had three peaks, but later the same year they renamed it Boston, “probably out of gratitude to the merchants of Boston in Lincolnshire, who had subscribed generously to the stock of the Company.”
The original Boston, a port town in England, had been built up around St. Botolph’s Church. So the name of the town is likely a contraction of the term “St. Botolph’s town.”
And who was Botolph? An English abbot of the 7th century. His name, Botolphus, is a Latinized form of the Germanic name Botulf, which can be traced back to two words: boda, meaning “messenger, herald,” and wulf, meaning “wolf.”
Boston soon became the capital of the Massachusetts Bay colony (stealing the title from nearby Charlestown). And it was also the site of many U.S. firsts, including:
- First city park, 1634 (Boston Common)
- First public school, 1635 (Boston Latin)
- First printing press, 1638
- First multi-page newspaper, 1690 (Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick)
- First post office, 1639
- First regularly published newspaper, 1704 (The Boston News-Letter)
- First lighthouse, 1716 (Boston Light)
- First chocolate factory, 1765
- First school for the blind, 1832 (New England Asylum for the Blind)
- First school for African-Americans, 1835 (Abiel Smith School)
- First police force (with both day and night watch), 1838
- First major municipal library, 1848 (Boston Public Library)
- First public garden, 1859
- First subway, 1897
(Here are lists of the top baby names in Boston in the 1600s and 1700s, btw.)
Today, Boston remains the capital of Massachusetts (now a state). Not only that, but it’s also the largest city in New England.
So how many babies have been named Boston?
Small numbers of U.S. baby boys were named Boston every year from the mid-1800s to the late 1900s. But in the 1990s, usage of the name began to increase steadily. (Also during that decade, Boston started to see regular usage as a girl name.)
Boston finally became one of the top 1,000 boy names in the nation in 2004:
- 2016: 414 baby boys named Boston [rank: 636th]
- 2015: 447 baby boys named Boston [rank: 606th]
- 2014: 495 baby boys named Boston [rank: 555th] ~ peak year so far
- 2013: 464 baby boys named Boston [rank: 566th]
- 2012: 487 baby boys named Boston [rank: 535th]
- 2011: 456 baby boys named Boston [rank: 556th]
- 2010: 462 baby boys named Boston [rank: 545th]
- 2009: 491 baby boys named Boston [rank: 537th]
- 2008: 461 baby boys named Boston [rank: 563rd]
- 2007: 388 baby boys named Boston [rank: 627th]
- 2006: 347 baby boys named Boston [rank: 630th]
- 2005: 302 baby boys named Boston [rank: 687th]
- 2004: 188 baby boys named Boston [rank: 909th]
- 2003: 130 baby boys named Boston
The states with the most baby Bostons are a mix of the high-population states you’d expect (Texas and California) plus a couple of low-population states you might not expect (Utah and Oklahoma). Usage is not particularly high in Massachusetts itself. One of the Texas babies named Boston — full name Boston Harold Morgan — ended up being featured in the similarly named Boston Herald a few days after he was born.
What do you think of Boston as a baby name?
*The name Trimountaine lives on in the name of Boston’s Tremont Street.
- 24 Famous Boston Firsts | Mental Floss
- Boston – Wikipedia
- “Origin and Growth of Boston.” Documents of the City of Boston for the Year 1919. Vol. 3. Boston: City of Boston Printing Department, 1920.
[Latest update to this post: Jun. 2017]