Rare Names in Early Boston (1630-1805)

Embroidered by Rooksby Creese
Embroidered by Rooksby Creese, 1700s
Yesterday we looked at popular baby names in early Boston, so today let’s check out some rare names.

Those two books I discovered with the early Boston birth records also included lists of Boston baptisms, marriages and deaths. I scanned all of these lists to come up with the names below:

A: Admonition, Aftar, America, Amiable, Amorel/Amorill, Androse, Aniball, Angola, Annice, Anstis, Apfier, Archdale, Arimnel, Atterlanta, Avery, Avise, Azor

  • America, full name America House, was born in 1660. Could she have been the very first New World baby named America? I can’t find anything earlier…
  • Avery was a baby girl born in 1645. This could be the earliest girl-Avery I know of.

B: Bagwell, Bagworth, Bant, Barbary, Belcher, Benaniwell, Betteris, Bezaliell, Bickford, Blish, Bossenger, Boylston, Bozoun/Bozoon/Bozoune/Bozon/Boozone, Brattle, Broughton, Budd, Bulkely, Buny, Buttalph/Buttolph, Byfield

  • Bagworth‘s full name was the Hobbit-like Bagworth Endicutt.
  • One of the Belchers had the unfortunate full name Belcher Noyes.
  • The Bozoun-group refers mainly to one person: Capt. Bozoun Allen (d. 1652), an immigrant from England who was active in early Boston politics.

C: Caylance, Cazneau, Cerston, Chanterlin, Chuzziah, Civil, Cletord, Clorinda, Coneniah, Consider, Constancy, Cord, Crumil, Cumbey/Cumby, Custin/Custine, Cutting

  • Could Chuzziah be a version of Josiah?
  • Cord‘s full name was Cord Cordis.
  • Cutting‘s full name was Cutting Bean.

D: Decline, Delicia, Derlow, Dermin, Desire ye Truth, Dickery, Digory, Dinisha, Dionysia, Dixe, Dosithea, Dowsabell, Drewry

  • Desire ye Truth gave her daughter the exact same name in 1666. The “ye” here would have been pronounced “the,” as the letter y actually represents the letter thorn.
  • Here’s more on the derivation of Digory.
  • Dionysia‘s full name was the very romantic Dionysia Savage Ravenscroft. (Savage was her maiden name; Ravenscroft was her married name.)

E: Electa, Eleshaway, Eliphall/Elliphall, Ellener, Emmin, Emmorold, Estick, Ethlan, Evos, Exercise

  • Exercise‘s full name was Exercise Blackleech.

F: Fairbanck, Fathergone, Faur, Fearnot/Fearnott, Febee, Ffitz-John, Foreland, Fortescue, Fortune, Freeborn, Freegrace, Freelove, Frizzel

  • Here’s the story behind Fathergone.
  • Fearnot is a Puritan name that needs to make a comeback, I think.

G: Gartright, Gatliffe, Gedny, Gee, Gier, Goodith, Grafton, Gravingham, Griffyn, Grimstone, Grindall, Grizzel/Grizzell

  • Gartright could be a version of Gertrude.
  • Goodith is probably Judith.
  • Grimstone! I love any name that features the word “grim.” I remember Grimsley popping up in Idaho a few years back…

H: Habbakuck/Habbakuk, Habbiah, Hananeel, Hanniball, Harborne, Harbottle, Hazelelponi, Hazelpanah, Heiborne, Hennerina, Hopefor/Hoptfor, Huldy, Humilis, Humility, Huxtable

I: Ibroke, Indego, Ireland, Isanna

J: Jaleham, Jamina, Jarratt, Jeffs, Jehosebath/Johoshabeath/Josabeth/Joshabeth, Jolley, Jolliff, Joylieffe/Joyliffe

K: Kellon, Kinsman, Knight

L: Laomi, Lately, Leech, Lettysse, Lilingston, Love, Lucrana, Lucresia, Ludwick

M: Macartey, Mackworth, Mauditt, Maverick, Maybe, Meddlecot, Mehalaliell/Mahalaleel, Melatiah, Meribah, Metsathiell, Milam, Milcha, Mindwell, Minot, Mordica, Moremercy, Mungo

  • Maverick, born at the end of the 1600s, got his mother’s surname as a first name.

N: Nabby, Nebery, Neezer, Neverson, Newgrace, Niot/Nyott

  • I’m guessing Neezer was derived from Ebenezer.
  • Nyott‘s full name was Nyott Doubt.

O: Onner, Opportunity, Orchard, Oulando, Oxenbridge

  • Opportunity‘s full name was Opportunity Lane.

P: Palfrey, Palsgrove, Palti, Parnell, Parthenia, Pepperrell, Perciful, Perring, Phaline, Phesant, Philadelphia, Philippe/Philippi/Philippy/Phillipee/Phillippi, Pilgrim, Pittie, Pool, Posthumus, Pouning, Preserved, Pyam

  • Perciful looks like Percival under the influence of “merciful.”
  • A number of women had names like Phillippi, which is curious…
  • Posthumus was once kinda trendy.
  • Pilgrim, despite his name, had nothing to do with the Mayflower Pilgrims. (He’s buried at Granary, btw.)

R: Ranis/Ragnis, Recompense, Redemption, Redigon/Redgon/Reddigan/Redigun, Reforme, Rely, Rich-Grace, Ronas, Rooksby/Rooksbey/Rooksbee/Rookby, Roop/Roope, Ryal

  • The Redigon group represents one person (female).
  • The Rooksby group represents several people, all female. You can see embroidered chair seats sewn one of them, Rooksby Creese (1703-1742), at the MFA in Boston.

S: Salmagrave, Salphin, Sarahjah, Satisfaction, Savel/Savell/Savil, Scarborough, Scissilla, Seaborne, Secunda/Secundas, Sendall/Sendell, Shippie, Shoreborne, Shove, Shrimpton, Sibbella/Sibla, Sivil/Sivill, Skinner, Skipper, Smyth, Snell, Spiller, Story, Strange, Sucky, Supply, Sweet

  • Sucky is an regrettable rendering of Sukey, a diminutive of Susanna.

T: Tacey, Teasant, Torshel, Tregoweth, Tremble, Trine, Tristram, Trueworthy, Turfry, Tuttle

  • Tacey has the same root as Tacita: the Latin verb tacere, meaning “to be silent.”
  • Torshel was the twin of Harborne (see above).

U: Union, Unite

V: Verrin, Vigilant, Vsal

W: Waitawhile/Wayte-a-while, Wentworth, Wheelwright, Wigglesworth/Wigleworth, Winborn, Woodbery, Woodmansie, Woodward

  • Waitawhile (female) had the birth name Waitawhile Makepeace. Sounds like a 2-step process for conflict resolution, doesn’t it?

Y: Yelverton

Z: Zerubbabel, Zibiah, Zuriell/Zuryell, Zurishaddai

…So, which of the above names intrigue you the most?

Sources: Boston births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, 1630-1699, Boston births from A.D. 1700 to A.D. 1800

5 thoughts on “Rare Names in Early Boston (1630-1805)

  1. Wow these are ready to be characters in the next big fantasy franchise!

    I think Chuzziah is meant to be a variant of Uzziah – in the Bible he was a king of Judah, and his name means “Yahweh is my strength”, and is said uh-ZIE-uh. I don’t why it has a Ch added to it though.

  2. I have always been intrigued by names that came about because of the situation into which the child was born. Above that would include Fathergone, Shoreborne, Seaborne, Waitawhile, Fearnot, Opportunity. I had a relative born in the mid 1800s who was named Charles Of The North Isaacson. Wonder if he went by Chuck?!

  3. @Anna – Agreed! :) And you could be right about Chuzziah — the spelling is a better fit to Uzziah than to Josiah.

    @Diana – I love names like that too. They always have a story to tell. Not always a happy story, but a story nonetheless.

  4. This particular Fearnot was a male (Fearnot Shaw, blacksmith).

    “Usability” depends more upon the tastes of the person doing the naming than the year. :) In my opinion, Fearnot would make a fantastic mantra-like middle name, but it’s a bit too out-there to qualify as a first name. Too much potential for teasing. But I’m sure others would disagree…

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