Samuel and Abigail Pond of Branford, Connecticut, had 8 kids between 1705 and 1721.
The first 7 got familiar names: Samuel, Philip, Bartholomew, Josiah, Abigail, Phineas and Peter.
But the last? The last was named Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.
Turns out it’s Biblical. Not a Biblical name, but a Biblical phrase. It refers to the story of “the writing on the wall” in the Book of Daniel.
Here’s a summary: In the middle of a banquet being hosted by Belshazzar, King of Babylon, a disembodied hand appears and writes four Aramaic words – Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin — on the wall. (In the King James version of the Bible, the last word is transcribed as “Uphardin.”) Belshazzar calls on Daniel to interpret the words, and Daniel tells him that the words foretell the fall of Babylon.
Why would the Ponds choose a name like this? Likely for no reason at all. One of the parents probably just opened the family Bible, shut his/her eyes, and pointed. (Notwithstanding Griswold, another 18th-century Connecticut baby, was no doubt named the same way.)
One genealogist wondered if Mene’s name wasn’t “intended to commemorate the final downfall of the Stuarts, which seven years before had been assured by the succession of the House of Hanover.” This seems unlikely, though, given the 7-year gap and the fact that there’d been two previous opportunities to bestow a commemoration name (older brothers Phineas and Peter were both also born after the death of Queen Anne).
Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond didn’t live to adulthood, but I managed to find one similarly named person who did: Mene Tekel Virgo (née Beacon) who lived in Kent, England, from 1827 to 1895.
- Belshazzar’s feast – Wikipedia
- Jacobus, Donald Lines. “Early New England Nomenclature.” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Jan. 1923: 10-16.
- Pond, Nathan Gillette. “Pond Family of Milford, Connecticut.” The Connecticut Magazine 1906: 161-176.
P.S. Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin’s older brother Philip married a lady with the fantastic name Thankful Frisbie.