Here’s a story I’ve spotted a couple of times:
Thomas and Elizabeth Pegden of Kent, England, had four sons named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then they had a fifth son. They were out of evangelists, so what did they name baby #5? Acts of the Apostles, after the next book in the New Testament.
Is it a true story?
A man named Actsapostles Pegden was indeed born in Kent back in 1795. (He went by the nickname “Actsy.” He married in 1826, and passed away in 1865.)
And his parents were named Thomas and Elizabeth Pegden.
And he did have at least four older brothers.
But the brothers I’ve found were named Thomas (b. 1787), Philip (b. 1789), Isaac (b. 1791) and Christopher (b. 1793) — not Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
So how did he get his name?
I’m not sure.
The only two other people I’ve come across with this name — Acts of the Apostles Kennett (b. 1833), son of Richard and Phoebe Kennett, and Acts of the Apostles Tong (b. 1850), son of Henry and Mary Tong — were both born in Kent, just like Actsy. This makes me think the name has more to do with regional religious fervor than anything else.
- “A Curious Christian Name.” New York Times 16 Apr. 1899: 24.
- Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature. London: Chatto & Windus, 1897.
- “‘Acts-Apostles’ as a Name.” Notes and Queries 3 Mar. 1866: 175.