In 1708, a baby boy named Return was born in Guilford, CT.
His parents were Janna Meigs* (1672-1739) and Hannah Willard (1674-1749), and he was the fifth of ten children: Janna, Josiah, Jehiel, Hannah, Return, Hester, Silence and Submit (twin girls), Timothy and Eunice.
There’s a story behind Return’s name. That much I know. But so many different versions of the story exist that there’s no telling which one is true.
The most common version starts with Janna proposing marriage to Hannah. She rejects him. (Many sources say this happened repeatedly.) Just as he’s about to ride off, she changes her mind and calls after him, “Return, Janna, return!” He does. They wed. And when they welcome their fifth child, they name him Return in honor of that moment.
Other versions of the story are quite different. One patriotic attempt claims the baby was born during the Battle of Concord (1775), and that “Return, Janna, return” was Hannah’s cry for her husband to come home from battle. Too bad the baby was already 67 years old at that point.
*Either Janna or Junna, depends on the source.
- “Dr. Meigs of Lowell Is Dead.” Telegraph [Nashua] 6 Apr. 1931: 1.
- Meigs Family History and Genealogy – Return Jonathan Meigs 1st