Name of the Day – Boston

Boston in early 1800s
Boston circa 1800

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.

Sources:

[Latest update to this post: Jun. 2017]


23 thoughts on “Name of the Day – Boston

  1. If you want my opinion, and I know you do, I think place names for people are, what’s the word I’m looking for, um, lame! I’m just kidding, don’t flame me :P Actually they are pretty inspiring. I’m sure most places are named after people — ambitious and adventurous ones that either discovered, settled, or influenced it in a significant way. So it’s not only fitting that someone can be named after a place but they already have a leg up.

  2. We named our son Boston and everyone loves it, its a really strong sounding name and something a bit different. Although everyone assumes are are Red Sox fans!

  3. I LOVE the name Boston and I’m considering it for our little one due in October. It’s unique, modern and personable. Now if I can convince my husband of this, I’ll be a happy girl…. but I’m not going to share this with my prego friends. They will snatch it before I get the chance!

  4. Obviously from my name…..our son is named Boston. We are from Massachusetts (obviously) and fell in love with the name immediately. It fits him. It is a nice, strong name. Not to mention we are huge Sox fans!! But the name Boston is awesome and everybody that hears it says the same.

  5. My son is named Boston – Boston O’Shey(due to my husband’s family is irish) actually and everybody absolutely loves it – he is 12 now. I think it is a unique strong name… they will never say Boston who? because he is the only Boston around…lol

  6. My son’s name is Boston Davis and he is 5 months old. I absolutely love the name. Everyone loves it, I just hope it doesn’t become too popular, I like how unique it is. We loved the city of Boston and when our son was born it was exactly 2 years to the day that my boyfriend and I took our first trip together, to Boston! And just like someone else who posted, everyone thinks we are a Boston Red Sox fan.

  7. Boston is our beautiful daughter’s name. My husband was in the Navy, and it took us away from our beautiful hometown. We thought it was the perfect name…Only my husband TELLS people she’s named after the Red Sox!

  8. I was about to ask if anyone has heard it for a girl’s name…. my sisters are giving me sh*t about naming my daughter, due in february, Boston… but we’re going to stick our ground…

    now if we can only find a middle name, some we’ve been thinking of are Jade, scarlet, violet, grace

  9. Our son is due in December and we plan on naming him Boston Edward. My husband proposed to me after I ran the Boston Marathon, so, to us, this name has meaning! It’s definitely a strong name! Now all we need to do is convince our family of that, but we’re sure they will grow to love it! Why go with the typical names like Jack, Jacob or Ryan! Good names, but Boston is a GREAT name! We want our son to be unique!

  10. Our 2 year old son is named Boston. We are from Australia with no connection to the city of Boston. But we thought it a strong boys name, that was unique without being crazy. We have had good responses from all about his name.

  11. I am another proud mother of an awesome little guy named Boston! Called ‘Boss’ or adoringly “Bossy”, he lives up to his Bruins reputation for being tough and not putting up with any crap! We’ve had a lot of compliments on the name, and a few raised eyebrows by some blue hairs, but overall the name has had positive reviews! We love it and think he suits his name well!

    BE PROUD, BOSTON’s!!!

  12. We named our youngest son Boston and I am thrilled with our choice. It is unique yet a word common enough that people know how to say and spell it. It’s a name that definitely creates an immediate first impression which I happy about. My only hope is that he can truly own it as it such a great name. What a great gift to be able to give a child. A name that is memorable, classic etc. As they establish themselves in this world. Love it and so do most people when they hear it!

  13. my little brother is named boston and when people ask me or my mom what is his name we say Boston and they say, Oston? NO BOSTON! yes it is frustrating at times but when they finally get what we are saying they are all like WOW! thats so cool!!! and then im like well my name is sydney. but then i just look unique also cause my name is a city too so yeah! and my dad was born in boston. but well we just get comment all the time and say things like wow ill name my son that! born FEB. 26, 2005

  14. We are naming our Little girl due in May Boston. Dad is a huge Red Sox fan, and I personaly like the name. We picked it out for a boy but we are going to end up using it for our girl. People can say what the may. But we love it!

  15. We named are daughter Boston (9 years ago)! And I wouldn’t have it any other way! In the beginning we didn’t have many fans but everyone she meets loves it now!!!

  16. Our second son is named Boston Reese born april 11 2008 and first son is Zephan Nicolas born june 25 2006

  17. We decided that if we have a boy we will name him Boston his dad is from Boston and is a huge Boston Celtics fan. HOWEVER, we chose the name Boston primarily because its a strong name for a Boy and pretty unique. There are too many boy names out-played right now. His name (if its a boy) will be Boston Omarion Settles which also gives him the initials BOS… maybe it will jump start his future as a Boss someday of his own company? ;)
    If we have a girl however it will be Baylee Olivia Settles :)

  18. My boy is going to be born in 8 days I wanted to name my first son Boston but his dad talked me out of it and we named him Rylan now that I’m having another boy I’m doing my best to stick to my ground with everyone that Boston is such a great name. My husband cousin actually said to me yesterday please tell me you’re not actually considering naming your baby Boston I wanted to choke her. My daycare provider said don’t do that to him. I can’t believe the negativity I get about it. I’m glad I found this page. I knew I was right! Boston is a great name screw the unoriginal people of the world.

  19. Morgan, don’t let anyone talk you out of naming your next child Boston. I got so many negative comments before naming our son, Boston. Our Bos is now 4 years old and EVERYONE compliments on his name! People who had reservations about it beforehand now say they can’t imagine him being called anything else. People comment about how unique and strong it sounds, too :)

    Unlike everyone here, I named my son Boston for a very different reason. He is named after a song called “Boston” by the band Augustana. The meaning behind their song really has nothing to do with the city of Boston. It is the idea of what moving to Boston would mean to the person this song is being sung about. To me, the song is about the want for something different, a new life. In the song, the individual being sung about is tired of her life back at home and wants to just get up and move far away from everything. Some parts of the song that speak to me:

    “I think I need a sunrise
    I’m tired of the sunset”

    I believe there is a hidden.. deeper meaning in this. Being tired of the sunset translates to being tired of things ending, tired of relationships and friendships ending, tired of people walking out of her life and the repetitive heartache. The line “you don’t wear my chains” is saying that nobody knows how she feels and what she’s going through and thinks she’ll “start a new life” wherever she moves to.

    In short, this song is about the need to start over. I am naming him Boston because I left my old life in WA state (where I was in a very abusive relationship) and went to a new place where “no one knew my name” and started a new life. My son is a continuation of the new life I started here in Florida 8 years ago. So in a way, HE is *my* new life, my very own “Boston”.

    Sorry that was so long but I am very passionate about his name :)

  20. P.S.

    His full name is Boston Alexander (in case anyone is looking for complimenting middle names)

  21. Great story Missy. I’m actually feeding my little Boston now he’s 6 months and suits him great. Wish you the best in your new life with Boston

    Morgan hanley
    Montreal

  22. My brother, my mother’s brother, my mother’s grandfather, my mother’s grandfather’s son and numerous other maternal family male relatives have had the first name of Boston. It is an Americanized German translation of the popular German male first name of Sebastian.

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