Phillippi, Phillippee, Philippy, Phillipie…

I was really intrigued by the female names Phillippi, Phillipie, Philippe, etc., that kept appearing in those early Boston records. I found 17 females with a name based on Philip, and 16 of those 17 were listed as “Phillippi” or something similar at least once. Here are all 17, plus every entry I found for each:

1. Phillipee White (née Wood), 3 entries:

  • married in 1653 (listed as “Phillip”)
  • gave birth in 1654 (listed as “Phillips”)
  • died in 1654 (listed as “Phillipee”)

2. Philipa Ockonell (née King), 1 entry:

  • married in 1662 (listed as “Philipa”)

3. Phillippee Cann, 2 entries:

  • gave birth to twin #1 in 1663 (listed as “Phillippee”)
  • gave birth to twin #2 in 1663 (listed as “Phillippee”)

4. Philippee Snell, 3 entries:

  • gave birth in 1659 (listed as “Philip”)
  • gave birth in 1661 (listed as “Phillip”)
  • gave birth in 1663 (listed as “Philippee”)

5. Phillippe Snell (daughter of #4), 1 entry:

  • died in 1663 (listed as “Phillippe”)

6. Philippe Cunnell, 2 entries:

  • gave birth in 1667 (listed as “Philippe”)
  • gave birth in 1670 (listed as “Philippe”)

7. Philippa Phillips (this is her married name believe it or not!), 8 entries:

  • gave birth in 1665 (listed as “Philippa”)
  • gave birth in 1667 (listed as “Philippa”)
  • gave birth in 1669 (listed as “Philippa”)
  • gave birth to twin #1 in 1671 (listed as “Phillippe”)
  • gave birth to twin #2 in 1671 (listed as “Phillippe”)
  • gave birth in 1672 (listed as “Philippa”)
  • gave birth in 1674 (listed as “Phillipa”)
  • died in 1679 (listed as “Philippy”)

8. Phillippi Samis, 1 entry:

  • died in 1689 (listed as “Phillippi”)

9. Phillippi Arnall, 3 entries:

  • gave birth in 1691 (listed as “Phillippi”)
  • gave birth in 1694 (listed as “Phillis”)
  • gave birth in 1695 (listed as “Phillis”)

10. Phillipie Carter (née White), 2 entries:

  • married in 1699 (listed as “Pilippe”)
  • gave birth in 1700 (listed as “Phillipie”)

11. Phillipi Lablond, 1 entry:

  • gave birth in 1704 (listed as “Phillipi”)

12. Philippi Greenwood, 1 entry:

  • gave birth in 1711 (listed as “Philippi”)

13. Phillippi Trench, 4 entries:

  • gave birth in 1716 (listed as “Phillipee”)
  • gave birth in 1719 (listed as “Phillippi”)
  • gave birth in 1720 (listed as “Phillippi”)
  • gave birth in 1724 (listed as “Philippe”)

14. Philippe Trench (daughter of #13), 1 entry:

  • born in 1724 (listed as “Philippe”)

15. Philippe Snelling, 2 entries:

  • gave birth in 1731 (listed as “Phillippe”)
  • gave birth in 1732 (listed as “Philippe”)

16. Philippe Snelling (daughter of #15), 1 entry:

  • born in 1731 (listed as “Philippe”)

17. Philippe Snelling (also daughter of #15), 1 entry:

  • born in 1732 (listed as “Philippe”)

Nowadays the preferred feminine form of Philip is Philippa, but Philippa clearly wasn’t being used very often in Boston during the 1600s and early 1700s. Here’s what A Dictionary of First Names has to say about Philippa:

In England during the Middle Ages the vernacular name Philip was borne by women as well as men, but female bearers were distinguished in Latin records by this form. It was not, however, used as a regular given name until the 19th century.

I’m left to conclude that, in Boston during this pre-Philippa era, the trendiest way to feminize Philip was by adding a ‘long E’ sound.

I wonder now if this ending was chosen intentionally to mirror the ‘long E’ endings of other female names with ancient Greek origins, like Phoebe and Chloe. Then again maybe it was simply the most natural way to feminize Philip, given that “-ie” and “-y” are such common diminutive suffixes in English.


5 thoughts on “Phillippi, Phillippee, Philippy, Phillipie…

  1. Nancy, names are as interesting as. You are the first one I know who has made a study of names. Who was it said “what in a name”? I name my first girl Mary. I still like Mary. Mary is a precious name. What name do you like most.
    John G. Parisi

  2. @John – Hi again! Yes, I remember the poem you wrote on that Mary post a few days ago. :) Me? I have too many favorites to list…

    @Pernille – Philippina and Philippine exist as well, you’re right, but they aren’t common in the U.S. these days.

  3. I wonder if Philippi is influenced by the Greek city/the Biblical Epistle to the Philippians. I’ve seen other Epistle names, like Corinthia, Thessalonia, Galatia, Ephesus…Not this early, though.

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