How popular is the baby name Parnel in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Parnel.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Parnel


Posts that Mention the Name Parnel

The Descendants of Tristram Coffyn

“Dresser in Tristram Coffin House, Newburyport, Massachusetts.”

Earlier this week we talked about the original Tristram Coffyn of Nantucket, who is known to have a massive number of descendants.

He and his wife Dionis* had five children in England, then four more after relocating to the New World. Here are the names of not only all nine of their children, but also their 76 grandchildren:

  1. Peter (b. 1631) and his wife Abigail had 11 kids:
    • Parnel, Eliphalet, Abigail, Peter, Jethro**, Tristram, Robert, Edward, Judith, Parnell, Elizabeth
  2. Tristram (b. 1632) and his wife Judith had 10 kids:
    • Judith, Deborah, Mary, James, John, Lydia, Enoch, Stephen, Peter, Nathaniel
  3. Elizabeth (b. 1634) and her husband Stephen Greenleaf had 10 kids:
    • Stephen, Sarah, Daniel, Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Tristram, Edmund, Judith, Mary
  4. Stephen (b. 1637)
  5. James (b. 1640) and his wife Mary had 14 kids:
    • Experience, James, Mary, Abigail, Nathaniel, John, Dinah, Elizabeth, Deborah, Ebenezer, Joseph, Benjamin, Ruth, Jonathan
  6. Deborah (b. 1642)
  7. Mary (b. 1645) and her husband Nathaniel Starbuck had 10 kids:
    • Mary, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Jethro, Barnabas, Eunice, Priscilla, Hephzibah, Ann, Paul
  8. John (b. 1647) and his wife Deborah had 11 kids:
    • Lydia, Peter, John, Love, Enoch, Samuel, Hannah, Benjamin, Tristram, Deborah, Elizabeth
  9. Stephen (b. 1652) and his wife Mary had 10 kids:
    • Daniel, Dionis, Peter, Stephen, Judith, Susanna, Anna, Mehitable, Hepzibah, Paul

Which of the above names do you like best? Are there any you don’t like at all?

*Dionis’s name is evidently a truncated form of Dionysia, which derives from Dionysius, which originally referred to a devotee of the Greek god Dionysos. The names Dennis and Denise are also derivatives of Dionysius.

**Nantucket’s Oldest House, also called the Jethro Coffin House, was built in 1686 as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin.

Sources: Tristram Coffin, Sr. (1608-1681) – WikiTree, My Father’s Shoes – Our Coffin Story
Image from Early Settlers of Nantucket by Lydia S. Hinchman

Will Alexa and Siri Become ‘Servant’ Names?

amazon echo, alexaLast month, Marion Times columnist Dan Brawner wrote an essay about the Alexa in which he asked: “Are we training a new generation to give orders to servants?”

It’s a good question. Lots of us make demands of AI assistants as if they’re servants. No need to be polite to technology, right?

But I’m curious how this might affect the names of the assistants. Looking at history, we can point to many female names that fell out of favor as soon as they became linked to lower class activities (e.g., servitude, prostitution). Examples include Abigail, Joan, Nan/Nanny, Jill, and Parnel.

Will society come to see AI assistant names like Alexa and Siri as “servant” names over time? If so, will this stigma influence baby names — maybe even long after the original devices/technology are gone?

Sources:

The Fall of Nan & Nanny

Nancy was first used during the medieval era as a form of Agnes, but became popular during the 18th century as a form of Anne.

But it was used as a form of Anne only because the other forms of Anne — Nan and Nanny — had fallen into disuse.

Why were the once-common names Nan and Nanny shunned in the late 17th century? Because they, like several other once-common female names (e.g. Jill, Parnel), had become synonyms for “jade.” Nanny was even used in terms like nanny-house and nanny-shop, synonyms for “brothel.”

So babies stopped getting the names Nan and Nanny. But “[r]espectable people, still liking the name, changed it to Nancy, and in that form it still lives.”

Interesting, no?

Makes me wonder if Parnel (a short form of Petronilla) could have been resurrected with a nifty new ending. Parnelcy? Parncy? Hm.

Sources:

  • Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature. London: Chatto & Windus, 1897.
  • Green, Jonathon. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang. 2nd ed. London: Cassell, 2006.