Babies named for Theodosia Burr

American socialite Theodosia Burr (1783-1813)
Theodosia Burr

We’ve all heard of early American politician Aaron Burr, but not as many of us know about his daughter, Theodosia — a well-educated socialite whose mysterious disappearance in early 1813 kept Americans intrigued for decades.

On the last day of 1812, 29-year-old Theodosia set sail from South Carolina (where she lived with her husband, Joseph Alston, the newly elected governor) to New York, to visit her father.

She was never seen again.

Presumably her ship was wrecked in a storm off Cape Hatteras, and all aboard were lost at sea.

No one knew for sure, though, and this left room for a number of alternative theories (many of which involved pirates).

These theories were printed and re-printed in the newspapers and other publications for decades to come. For instance, the following illustration of Theodosia being forced to walk the plank (by pirates, of course) was published in a California newspaper in 1906 — almost a century after her disappearance.

Theodosia walking the plank

Thanks to these recurring stories, dozens (possibly hundreds?) of baby girls were named “Theodosia Burr” during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some examples…

Her most famous namesake was Theodosia Burr Goodman, born in Ohio in 1885, who went on to become silent film actress Theda Bara.


Top image: Theodosia Burr (Mrs. Joseph Alston)

One thought on “Babies named for Theodosia Burr

  1. I guess most people know about Theodosia now because of Hamilton, but the first time I encountered the name was in the Molly Ringwald movie For Keeps. They name the baby Theodosia and call her Thea. I don’t remember anything else about the movie, which I saw when I was 14, but Theodosia always stuck with me.

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