Popular Baby Names in Boston, 1640-1740

Speaking of names in Boston Graveyards…I recently discovered a cool pair of books containing old Boston birth records from 1630 (the year Boston was founded) to just beyond 1800.

The records aren’t perfect/complete, but they’re good enough to determine the top names from year to year. So here’s an overview of the top 3 baby names per gender from 1640 to 1740 in 20-year increments:

1640
(50 babies accounted for; total Boston population 1,200.)

Girl Names, 1640 Boy Names, 1640
1. Elizabeth (8)
2. Hannah & Mary (4 ea.)
3. Sarah (2)
1. John (7)
2. Samuel (4)
3. Deliverance, Elisha, Jonathan & Thomas (2 ea.)

1660
(135 babies accounted for; total Boston population 3,000.)

Girl Names, 1660 Boy Names, 1660
1. Elizabeth & Sarah (12 ea.)
2. Mary (11)
3. Hannah (8)
1. John (15)
2. Joseph, Thomas & William (4 ea.)
3. Edward, Richard, Samuel & Timothy (3 ea.)

1680
(174 babies accounted for; total Boston population 4,500.)

Girl Names, 1680 Boy Names, 1680
1. Elizabeth (17)
2. Mary (14)
3. Sarah (12)
1. John (21)
2. William (8)
3. Thomas (7)

1700
(219 babies accounted for; total Boston population 6,700.)

Girl Names, 1700 Boy Names, 1700
1. Mary (23)
2. Elizabeth (18)
3. Ann, Sarah & Susanna (8 ea.)
1. John (31)
2. Thomas (15)
3. Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel & William (9 ea.)

1720
(282 babies accounted for; total Boston population 11,000.)

Girl Names, 1720 Boy Names, 1720
1. Mary (31)
2. Elizabeth (26)
3. Sarah (17)
1. John (23)
2. William (18)
3. Samuel (17)

1740
(158 babies accounted for; total Boston population 17,000.)

Girl Names, 1740 Boy Names, 1740
1. Mary (12)
2. Elizabeth (10)
3. Sarah (9)
1. John (14)
2. Joseph (11)
3. Samuel, Thomas & William (9 ea.)

Isn’t it interesting how Mary overtook Elizabeth as the #1 name for girls? The switch happened in the 1680s; Mary had already pulled ahead of Elizabeth by 1690.

The rare names were even more interesting (as usual!) so that’s what I’ll be posting about for the rest of the week, starting with a big list of them tomorrow…

Sources: Boston births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, 1630-1699, Boston births from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1800, Population in the Colonial and Continental Periods – Census.gov (pdf), Population Trends in Boston 1640-1990


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