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Posts Tagged ‘Olive’

On our holiday last week we stayed at historic Gurney Manor — sometimes called Gurney Street Manor — in Cannington, Somerset.

It is a very special place.

Rescued by the Landmark Trust in the 1980s, much of the fabric dates to before 1400, with substantial additions in the mid-to-late fifteenth century.

Because it largely came down in the world after the seventeenth century, many of its ancient features, including the fifteenth century covered passage across the inner courtyard linking the old kitchen to the hall, have survived.

Unsurprisingly, it proved quite a good hunting ground for names, which are almost text-book examples of the typical names through the centuries, demonstrating fluctuations in fashion both generally, and across the social spectrum.

The original owners — and the family who gave their name to the manor — were a branch of the baronial family of Gurney, the founder of which came to England with William the Conqueror. Only a few names are known from this earliest period, emerging from the fog of remote history; a RICHARD de Gurney, flourished in 1243, when he put in a claim on the mill, then in possession of his “kinsman” WILLIAM, son of PHILIP.

Richard had a son called ROBERT.

By the end of the thirteenth century, the property appears to have been owned by JOHN de Gurney, who was alive in 1327.

The last of the line at Gurney Manor, and probably the one responsible for much of the parts of the hall dating to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, was HUGH, who succeeded to the estate in 1358. Either he, or a son of the same name, was there in 1401, with a wife called BEATRICE.

He had no son, and so the manor passed to his daughter JANE — an unusual name at the time, when the usually feminine form of John was Joan. She married ROGER Dodesham.

Responsible for most of the fifteenth century additions was their son, another WILLIAM, who was a lawyer as well as a landowner.

William had sisters called JOAN and ELEANOR, and on his death in 1480, the Gurney Street Manor passed in trust to Joan’s daughter, AGNES, wife of WALTER Michell, who died in 1487. Agnes and Walter had three sons, who each succeeded in turn, WILLIAM, JOHN, and THOMAS.

Thomas, whose wife was called MARGARET, died in 1503, when the manor passed to his son, another THOMAS. He also had a daughter called ISABEL.

Thomas made a number of improvements and refinements to the house, adding fine windows and new chimneys — but it all came to an abrupt end on December 13, 1539, when he murdered his wife JOAN and sister-in-law ELEANOR, seemingly at Gurney Manor, before killing himself.

He had two known children, another JANE, and another RICHARD.

Richard, who married an ELIZABETH, died in 1563, leaving the manor to his son, TRISTRAM.

Tristram, meanwhile, died in 1574, when the manor passed to his brother, Sir BARTHOLOMEW.

On Bartholomew’s death in 1616, his lands were split between his daughters, JANE and FRANCES. Gurney passed to Jane, wife of WILLIAM Hockmore.

William had considerable property elsewhere, and Gurney’s owners no longer lived there; the house and its acres was let to tenants, so that by the late nineteenth century, it was regarded as just a (large) farmhouse.

The names of most of these tenants is lost, but we still know the names of the house’s owners, and their families.

Jane and William Hockmore, for instance, had six children, SUSANNAH, GREGORY, CHARLES, WILLIAM, FRANCES and RICHARD, not all of whom lived to adulthood.

Gregory, married to MARY, inherited in 1626, dying in 1653, when the estate passed to his son, also called GREGORY (he also had a daughter called JANE).

Gregory II, married to HONOR, also had two children, a son WILLIAM, and, quelle surprise, yet another JANE.

William, who inherted sometime between 1676 and 1680, married another MARY, and had three daughters, MARY, JANE and HONORA; only Honora survived to adulthood, becoming William’s heiress on his death in 1707-08.

She married DAVIDGE Gould (his mother’s maiden name was Davidge) around 1713, and had five children who survived to adulthood: Sir HENRY (d.1794), RICHARD (d.1793), HONORA (d.1802), WILLIAM (d.1799) and THOMAS (d.1808).

Henry, married ELIZABETH, and had two daughters, another ELIZABETH, and HONORA MARGARETTA. Elizabeth married TEMPLE Luttrell; Honora Margaretta, who died in 1813, married General RICHARD Lambart, 7th Earl of Cavan.

And Gurney passed through her to the Earls of Cavan.

(Temple Luttrell was an interesting character; an MP, he was reputedly also a smuggler, and built a folly, called Luttrell’s Tower, at Eaglehurst near Southampton. On his death in Paris in 1803, Luttrell’s Tower passed to the Earl of Cavan too. By pure coincidence, Luttrell’s Tower is also now owned by the Landmark Trust.)

Richard and Honora Margaretta had five children:

  • RICHARD HENRY ROBERT GILBERT (1783-85)
  • HONORA ELIZABETH HESTER (1784-1856)
  • ALICIA MARGARETTA HOCKMORE (1785-1818)
  • SOPHIA AUGUSTA (1787-98)
  • RICHARD HENRY (b. and d. 1788)
  • GEORGE FREDERICK AUGUSTUS (1789-1828)
  • EDWARD HENRY WENTWORTH VILLIERS (1791-1812)

George, who died before his father, married the simply named SARAH, and had five children:

  • HENRIETTA AUGUSTA (d. 1874)
  • ALICIA (d.1913)
  • JULIA (d.1897)
  • FREDERICK JOHN WILLIAM (1815-87)
  • OLIVER GEORGE (1822-98)

Frederick John William’s wife was CAROLINE AUGUSTA, and they also had five children:

  • MARY HYACINTHE (d.1933)
  • SARAH SOPHIA (d.1914)
  • FREDERICK EDWARD GOULD (1839-1900)
  • OCTAVIUS HENRY (1855-1919)
  • ARTHUR (1858-1937)

Frederick Edward Gould’s wife was MARY SNEADE (Sneade was her middle name — her surname was Olive), and their children:

  • FREDERICK RUDOLPH (1865-1946)
  • ELLEN OLIVE (1867-1945)
  • MAUD EDITH GUNDREDA (1869-1940)
  • LIONEL JOHN OLIVE (1873-1940)
  • HORACE EDWARD SAMUEL SNEADE (1878-1950).

Frederick Rudolph had no children by his first wife CAROLINE INEZ; by his second wife, HESTER JOAN, he had two daughters; the first, ELIZABETH MARY was born in 1924.

The following year, Gurney was sold to its tenants of more than thirty years, the Bucknells, and with it an unbroken line of descent, if not of inhabitation, of at least eight hundred years, was finally severed.

The Bucknells were a thoroughly English Victorian middle class family; the father, a classic “gentleman farmer” was a solid and respectable JAMES, his wife an equally establishment MARY ANN. One daughter was ELIZA HARRIS, the other, OLIVE MARY (possibly named in honor of the Countess of Cavan), and they also had a son, BENJAMIN JOHN.

In 1901, there were also three servants living with them at the manor: FRANK, EMILY and MABEL.

Gurney’s time once more owned by its inhabitants was short-lived; the Bucknells sold in 1934, and by the 1940s it had been subdivided into flats. By the 1980s, it was in a sorry, neglected state, with most of the flats empty, but then the Landmark Trust bought it, and the rest is (more!) history…

No-one lives there for more than three weeks at a time anymore, but it has been fully restored to its medieval glory and I think the place rather likes the variety of ever changing faces coming and going, and basks in their rapt admiration.

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There are distint signs now that the pace is gathering in the rehabilitation of names long consigned to granny (or rather great-granny status, as most grannies nowadays are called things like Carol and Susan, and true “granny names” are at least a generation further back).

The trend’s roots actually go back to the seventies and eighties, when the first batch of “Victorian” names started to come back into use. Principal among them have been Emily, Emma, Isabella and Olivia, on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Britain, too, this was the era when names which are only now really capturing the hearts of Americans, such as Alice, Amelia, Beatrice/Beatrix, Charlotte, Matilda and Eleanor (with its pet-form Ellie actually more popular than Eleanor herself), also returned to bask in the sun of popularity.

These could be classed the great-great-granny names; the names borne by the women who went on to name their daughters Lily and Grace, Florence and Evelyn.

This generation began to make a come-back in the nineties.

Some like Lily and Grace are already now thoroughly acclimatized. Some, like Florence, Daisy, Poppy and Ruby, are already considered mainstream in the UK, and are so talked about in the US, it can only be a matter of not very much time before they’re top 100 there too. Others, like Edith, Olive and Maud, are regaining attention.

But there’s a whole Devon cream tea shop’s worth of other delicious and tempting options, and these are the ones I think deserve to be brought back down from the attic.

AgathaI deliberated quite some time about whether to include Agatha, as she’s never actually been very common at all. However, perhaps largely down to Aunt Agatha in the Jeeves stories, she has acquired a distinctly granny edge, and there certainly were more Agathas around in 1910 than 2010! She’s a name I’ll feature on her own some time, as, personally, I love her, and there’s so much to say about her, but I just couldn’t neglect her here, because of my life-long love of all things Agatha Christie…

Agnes — a staple not just of the Victorians and the early twentieth century, Agnes was one of the most popular girls’ names of the medieval and early modern period too. She was under a cloud in the eighteenth century, and again in the twentieth. She is so rich in history, mythology and allusions that she has a post of her own, scheduled for St Agnes’ Eve. But it would be a travesty to not give her a mention here, especially as celeb baby Agnes Lark might well have been the catalyst she needed to spark interest again.

Annie — actually truly belongs  to the great-great granny era, being most in decline since 1881 (when she was ranked 8th). The musical and film arrested her decline in the late seventies and early eighties, but unlike her siblings, she then went back into decline. Her fate may have changed, but at present she still seems to be dithering in the low 300s. Although treated as a pet-form of Ann/Anne, there’s no reason not to consider her a name in her own right, as she’s been used as such so long, and is actually a bit closer to the original Hebrew Hannah, sharing two syllables, rather than just the one.

Blanche — never all that common; like Annie, it hovered in the fifties in the late nineteenth century. Short, elegant, with a long and distinguished history back to medieval times, Blanche makes a worthy alternative to those one-syllable names which are now growing tired, like Claire, Brooke, and Paige.

Doris — in America, one of the darlings of the twenties. This pretty Greek name is definitely ready for revival.

Elsie — already back on the radar and rising, sweet Elsie — usually considered a Scottish short-form of Elizabeth — is also an English surname and essentially the modern form of the Old English Ælfsige “elf-victory.” It’s a must for revival in the UK, slipping comfortably into that established group of friends, Sophie, Evie, Maisie, Ellie, Millie, Katie, Gracie, and Rosie, etc…

Ethel — Ethel’s take up in Victorian times was as a short-form of the numerous girls’ names which featured it as a first element, particularly Etheldred/Etheldreda and Ethelinda. But it is essentially the modern English form of the Old English æthel “noble,” and its German cognate Athalia was used as a name in its own right in medieval times, becoming the English Adela and French Adele. As the name of Lily Allen’s new baby, there are indications are that people are starting to see Ethel — for so long almost the quintessential great-granny name — in a new light. After all, it does combine those softest and most romantic sounds: eth and el…

Freda — Use in the last couple of centuries originated, like Ethel, as a short form of longer names, particularly Winifred and Alfreda. However, also like Ethel, it stands up as a name in its own right, with frithu  meaning “peace” in Old English. Its Norse cognate is found as a name in medieval times: Friða. It survived in Scandinavia as Frida. The Germanic Frieda has also long been used as a variant. Freda is also found in the name of a lwa (divinity) of Haitian Voodoo —   Erzulie Fréda — though in her case, Fréda is probably West African in origin.

GertrudeMy grandmother had the unusual name of Gayther — but was almost universally known as Gertie, the usual nick-name of Gertrude. For a time it was also treated as the archetypal name of a student of my alma mater, Girton College, Cambridge (the shared initial “ger” sound, no doubt). It was also borne by another of my historic heroines, the archaeologist Gertrude Bell. With the strong meaning of “spear-strength,” Gertrude was hugely popular for a time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and has a distinctly “no-nonsense” air about her. But she does shorten to the gentle Trudy, tom-boyish Gerry and contemporary Tru, as well as the as well that ever-cheerful Gertie…

Gladys — up there with Ethel, Gladys (Gwladys in the original Welsh) is another name that I think only needs a nudge for people to start to think, “why not?” Either the Welsh form of Claudia, or an elaboration of gwlad “country.” After all, there are a number of names ending in, or prominently featuring the “is” sound, such as Alexis, Alice, Allison, Genesis, Melissa, Marissa, Iris, Isis, Paris, Carys, and Cerys, etc. Nor is Gladys actually all that far away from Madison and Addison when you think about it…

Ida — Ida is another that was at her most popular in the late nineteenth century and is long overdue reconsideration; she’s already making steady progress in the UK, and since the very similar Ada is clearly on the up in the US, why not Ida too? Ida was found in Britain in medieval times, though in the Victorian period it was most associated with the nymph of the mountain which shared her name, who was said to have raised the infant Zeus. There’s a whole lot more to Ida, and I intend to feature her as a pick of the week, but she certainly deserves a mention here.

Irene — As the usual English form of the Greek Eirene “peace”, Irene is mostly pronounced with two-syllables, but three is not unknown. With two fresh dramatisations of the Sherlock Holmes takes around at the moment — the big screen Robert Downey, Jr version and the sparkling and clever British television one staring Benedict Cumberbatch — the character of Irene Adler will no doubt be working her magic on how people perceive Irene.

Mabel — The bells should be ringing loudly for Mabel. Roll it around the tongue — “May bell”. How pretty is that? Already rediscovered in certain British circles (ranking 386 in 2010), she vanished in America from the top 1000 in 1960 and has yet to resurface. Mabel originated in the Middle Ages as a shorter form of Amabel.

Mildred — I’ve always had a soft spot of the charming Mildred, an Old English gem meaning “mild/gentle counsel.” Featured as a Witch of the Week here.

Nellie — traditional pet-form of Eleanor, but also used of Helen and Ellen. For a long time Nellie fell under the cloud about the popular song, but it is breaking away now and with that popular “-ie” ending, and those letter “l”s, Nellie has a lot of personality.

Olga — one of my first ever name loves. One of the Russian names that came into fashion in the late nineteenth century, Olga is not actually Russian in origin at all; it is the Russian form of Scandinavian Helga “holy.” Olga was never particularly common, peaking in the US in 1916 in 130th spot.

Opal — a nineteenth century adoption of the name of the precious stone, which derives ultimately from the Sanskrit upala “stone.”  It peaked in the US in 81st place in 1911, and dwindled into obscurity by 1900. Believed by the ancients to be the tears of joy wept by Zeus following his victory over the Titans, in more recent centuries black opals in particular have gained an association with witches.

Pearl — at first used as a nickname — like Daisy — for girls called Margaret, Pearl was in independent use by the mid nineteenth century. It actually peaked by 1890, but remained in the top 100 until 1927. It is just starting to show signs of renewed interest, but there’s still a long way to go.

Phyllis — another pretty “-is” name which has been too long neglected now. It derives from Greek phullon “leaf” (with phullis itself meaning “salad.”).

Vera — Vera is another name of Russian origin, meaning “faith,” though it is identical to the Latin vera, the feminine form of verus “true,” which is the source of the vera of the wonderful Aloe vera. Another of my personal heroines is the British writer and pacificst Vera Brittain. Vera was never particularly common in the US, but has recently started to show signs that its fortunes are changing.

Next week, I’ll take a look at the Grandpas…

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The paladin Oliver features in the French medieval epic the Song of Roland

Beginning Sneak Peek II is Oliver — the most popular boy’s name in the UK  for the 2nd year running in 2010, but only 88th in the US (though climbing quickly).

Oliver

Oliver is usually derived from the Old French: olivier < Latin: olivarus ‘an olive tree’, but it is quite likely that its real ‘roots’ lie with OLAF. It was the name of one of the paladins (chief warriors) of Charlemagne, and was popular in medieval France and England. Diminutives: Ollie, Olly; Noll (historical). Bearers: Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of Britain during the Commonwealth; Oliver Goldsmith (1730-74), the Anglo-Irish playwright; Oliver Reed (1938-99), the British actor; Oliver Stone (b.1945), the US film director; Oliver Twist, eponymous hero Dickens’ novel of 1838; Oliver Haddo in Somerset Maugham’s The Magician (1908) – the character was modeled on Aleister Crowley, and Crowley himself used it as a pseudonym in a piece accusing Maugham of plagiarism.

Olaf

The modern form of the Old Norse: Óleifr and Anleifrano ‘ancestor’ + leifr ‘relics’. It was a very popular Norse name, borne by six kings of Norway. Scots Gaelic: Amhladh – Anglicized as AULAY; Irish Gaelic: Amhlaoibh – Anglicized as Auliffe.

Olive

The olive has been cultivated for thousands of years for its fruit and the oil produced from it, which has been used for cooking, lighting and the cleansing of the skin since ancient times. According to Greek mythology, the olive was the gift of Athene to Athens, sprouting from her staff which she plunged into the Earth on the Acropolis. The olive was also associated with Olympia, where the victors’ crowns in its famous games were woven of olive leaves. Brides in Greece wore a chaplet of olive leaves – as such it was a symbol of both chastity and fertility. It has also long been a symbol of peace. It is ruled by the Sun and Fire. Latin: oliva ‘olive’, ‘olive tree’ and ‘olive branch’. Oliva was the name of an early and obscure Roman saint, and was adopted as a girl’s name in the Middle Ages. This became Oliff and Olive in the vernacular. It was re-embraced enthusiastically in the late 19th Century, along with other names of flowers and shrubs. Bearers: Olive Shreiner (1855-1920), the South African feminist, pacifist and writer, best known for The Story of an African Farm (1883). Olive (1850) was a novel by Dinah Craik.

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In Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, etc, etc, I recommend that when you’re in the process of choosing a name, you keep your eyes peeled and look for inspiration everywhere. I happen to be in the middle of choosing some new paint colors for my bedroom and hall, and while pondering whether to plum for Arsenic or Faded Malachite, Chartreuse or Garden City, it struck me that some of the names which the paint companies have come up actually have great potential as names for other projects too…

Some really are quite weird, like Crew Cut Cream and Elephant’s Breath, whil many are very humdrum, standard colours, like plain Cream and Beige, but there are some absolute gems. A great many do actually feature in The Book, but not all, by any means (I’ll leave you guessing which!), and some are definitely better suited to pets than people (I’ll leave that to your discretion!).

The colors below are all the part or full name of paints currently on sale in the UK, manufactured by Crown Paint, Craig and Rose, Dulux, Farrow and Ball, Fired Earth and Little Greene — only a tiny fraction, therefore, of all the paints out there. If you’re stuck for a name for someone or something non-commercial (many of these names are registered, so you couldn’t use them for a retail product), you might find more than what you were after down your local DIY store!

Absinth, Absinthe, Aconite, Acorn, Acre, Adriatic, Adventurer, Alabaster, Alizarin Earth, Almond, Alouette, Amber Gris, Amber Spirit, Amethyst, Andaman Sea, Antimony, Antique, Antique Earth, Apple, Apple Mist, Apple Tree, Apricot, Aqua, Aqua Source, Aquamarine, Archive, Arctic Grey, Armagnac, Armoise, Arsenic, Ashes of Roses, Aspen Silver, Aubusson, Avantgarde, Babouche, Bamboo Leaf, Bamiyan Blue, Barley, Basket, Basswood, Beauty Queen, Beauvais, Beeswax, Belladonna, Berber, Berry, Bespoke, Bianco, Biscotti, Black, Blazer, Blossom, Blue Ashes, Blue Ciel, Blue Grass, Blue Gravel, Blue Monday, Blue Moon, Blue Mosel, Blue Reflection, Blueberry, Bone, Bone China Blue, Bonnet, Botanic, Box Tree, Brassica, Brinjal, Brioche, Bronze Red, Brown Sugar, Burgundy, Burnt Juniper, Buttermilk, Button, Caenstone, Café au Lait, Calamine, Calico, Calke, Calluna, Calvados, Cane, Canton, Canvas, Carbon Blue, Carnaby, Carragheen, Cascade, Cashmere, Celadon, Celebrity, Celestial Blue, Chalk, Chalk Violet, Chamois, Champagne, Charcoal, Charleston, Chateau, Chelsea Girl, Chemise, Cherry, Chestnut, Chic Shadow, Chiffon, China, China Clay, Chocolate Chaude, Chocolate Comtesse, Chocolate Fondant, Chocolate Suede, Chrome, Chromium, Churlish Green, Cinder Rose, Cinnabar Red, Cirrus, Citrine, Citron, Clay, Clay Pale, Clove, Clunch, Coastal Glow, Cobble, Cochineal, Cocoa, Coffee, Copper Canyon, Copper Mine, Coral, Coral Flair, Coraline, Cord, Cornfield, Cornflower, Cornforth, Cotton Field, Cotton Twill, Coumarin, Cream Silk, Crimson Kiss, Crimson Silk, Crochet, Custard, Cyan, Daffodil, Damson, Day Dream, Dazzle, Dead Salmon, Deep Ivy, Delicate Cream, Denim, Desert Wind, Diamond Dust, Dimity, Dorset Cream, Dragon’s  Blood, Dragonfly, Dramatic, Dream Time, Drummond, Dusted Damson, Eastern Light, Eau-de-Nil, Echo, Ecru, Enamel Green, Espresso, Essential, Etiquette, Etoile, Etruscan Red, Euphoria, Expectation, Fairy Dust, Faithful, Fallow, Fawn, Fawn Suede, Felt, Festival Orange, Fine Silk, Firefly, Fireside, First Dawn, First Frost, First Light, Flake, Flame Red, Flamingo, Flawless, Flawless Faun, Folly, Footprint, Forest Pine, Free Love, Fresco, Frosted Dawn, Frothy Coffee, Full Moon, Gallery, Gamboge, Garden, Garnet, Gauze, Gentian Violet, Gentle, Genuine, Gesso, Glass Samphire, Gold Dusk, Gold Leaf, Gold Sparkle, Golden Glow, Golden Silk, Golden Suede, Granite, Graphite, Grey Lace, Gypsum, Hague, Hammock, Happy Daze, Hardwick, Hay, Heavenly Haze, Hedgerow, Hemp, Herb Garden, Hessian, Hollyhock, Honesty, Honey, Honey Cream, Hound Lemon, Incarnatino, Incarnadine, Incense, India, Indigo, Innocence, Intense Aqua, Ivory, Ivory Lace, Ivory Pearl, Ivory Shimmer, Ivory Suede, Jack Black, Jade White, Jardin Vert, Jasmine Shimmer, Jersey, Jet Black, Juniper Ash, Just Plum, Lady Jayne, Laguna Bay, Lait, Lake, Lancaster, Lapis, Lavender, Lemon Pie, Lemon Punch, Lichen, Lido Blue, Lilac Echo, Lime Green, Lincoln Green, Linen, Linnet, Liqueur, Lola Plum, London Stone, Lotus, Lulworth, Lunar Falls, Lupin, Luscious Lime, Mackintosh Mauve, Madder Red, Mademoiselle, Magnolia, Mahogany, Maison Blanc, Malachite, Malm, Malt, Mambo, Manna Ash, Marble, Marine Blue, Marram, Mascarpone, Mean Mustard, Mellow Green, Mellow Sage, Melon Sorbet, Menthe, Mercury, Mezereon, Middleton, Midnight Kiss, Milliner, Mimosa, Mineral Mist, Mink, Mint Whisper, Mirage, Mischief, Mizzle, Mocha, Mojito, Moonlight Bay, Moonstone, Morning Light, Morris Blue, Mortlake, Moulin Rouge, Mulberry, Mushroom, Natural Wicker, Nickel, Nordic Spa, Normandy Grey, Northern Lights, Nursery Rhyme, Nutmeg, Oak Apple, Oak Fern, Ocean Ripple, Ochre, Olive, Opal, Ophelia Plum, Orange, Orange Aurora, Orangerie, Orangery, Orchard Pink, Orchid Leaf, Orchid White, Osborne Maroon, Oxford Blue, Oxygen, Oyster, Pacific Breeze, Palatine, Pale Citrus, Pale Gilt, Pale Gold, Pale Hound, Palest Blue, Palladian, Palm Honey, Papyrus, Parchment, Parfait, Parma, Parsley, Parthenon White, Pashmina, Passion Flower, Pavillion, Pea Green, Peachblossom, Pearl, Pearl Ashes, Pebble, Pelt, Penny Black, Perfectly Taupe, Perfume, Periwinkle, Persian Rose, Pewter, Pigeon, Pink Sugar, Pitcairn, Platinum, Plum Suede, Plummett, Polar Blue, Polished Pebble, Pompadour, Porcelain Blue, Porphyry Pink, Portland Stone, Powder Blue, Prairie Gold, Pretty Pink, Primrose, Primrose Yellow, Pumice, Purity, Purple Heart, Purple Pearl, Purple Pout, Quince, Ra Ra Red, Race, Radicchio, Raspberry, Raspberry Bellini, Raspberry Diva, Raw Earth, Rebel, Red Dark, Red Earth, Red Ochre, Redcurrant, Regal Blue, Regency Fawn, Regent Green, Ringwold, Rocky, Rodeo Drive, Rolling Fog, Roman, Roman Ocher, Rosaraie, Rose Mallow, Rose Pink, Rosy Cheeks, Royal Gala, Ruby Starlet, Rusling, Russet, Safflower, Sage Green, Sahara Star, Sail White, Salix, Sanctuary, Sand, Sapphire, Saracen, Sari, Sash Red, Satin Bow, Satin Jade, Savage, Saxe Blue, Saxifrage, Saxon, Scarab, Scarlet Ribbon, Scooter Red, Sea Blue, Sea Lavender, Secret Shell, Sepia, Serpentine, Serrano Red, Seville Orange, Shell, Sienna Earth, Silica, Silk Gown, Silt, Silver Heather, Silver Lustre, Silver Mine, Siren, Skimming Stone, Sky Blue, Sky High, Skylon Grey, Slate Grey, Smalt, Smock, Smoke Blue, Smoky Mist, Smoulder, Snowdrop, Snowfall, Soft Peach, Sorbet, Soya, Spire, Spring Blush, Stargazer, Starling, Starlight, Steel, Stock, Stone, Stony, Straw, Striking, Stucco, Sudbury, Summer Lichen, Summer Pudding, Summer Yellow, Sumptuous Silk, Sun Yellow, Sunday Best, Sunlight, Sunrise, Surpar Red, Sweet Almond, Sweet Cicely, Sweet Pink, Tallow, Tan Suede, Tanner, Tapestry, Taupe Suede, Teal Tension, Tempting, Terra Cotta, Terra di Sienna, Terre, Thai Sapphire, Tibetan Gold, Timeless, Tiramisu, Toffee Apple, Travertina Crema, Trellick, Triomphe, Truffle, Tudor Rose, Tufa, Tundra, Turquoise, Tuscan Earth, Tuscan Olive, Tuscan Red, Tuscany, Tusk, Twiglet, Tyrian Rose, Ultramarine, Umber, Urban Obsession, Vanilla, Vellum, Velvet, Velvet Plum, Venetian Red, Verd Antique, Verdigris, Verdilith, Verditer, Vert de Terre, Violet Slate, Vivid, Walnut, Wasabi, Wax Myrtle, Weald Green, Welcome Pale, Weld Yellow, Welkin Blue, Wellbeing, Wheatgrass, Wharf, Whisper of Pashmina, Whisper of Snowfall, Whisper of Sunrise, White Mist, Wild Olive, Wild Primrose, Wildwood, Willow Tree, Wimborne, Winchester Green, Wind Chime, Windsor Blue, Winterbloom, Woad Blue, Woodbine, Zangar, Zenith Blue, Zinc

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A number of boys were called George Washington in 1776 after the great American hero of Independence.

It’s Independence Day today on the other side of the Pond, and to celebrate, I thought I’d explore the names given to babies the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Using the records available online at FamilySearch (a great genealogical resource provided by the Church of Latter Day Saints), I waded through over 1000 records to take a snapshot of what newly independent Americans were naming their offspring in 1776. Unsurprisingly, the commonest names were John, Joseph, William and James for boys, and Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, Hannah and Ann(e) for girls — but what was surprising was that  these names didn’t dominate quite as much as expected. It turns out, there was a lot of variety in naming practices in America in 1776.

There were some absolute gems — names which might have just stepped out of the pages of Charles Dickens — or even Harry Potter. Abigail Root, Alpheus Dodge, Amaziah Rice, Betsey Boon, Eliphalet Whittlesey, Gamaliel Pardee, Hephzibah Crouch, Howel Stocking, Ichabod Tuttle, Olive Doolittle, Permilia Pettingale, Polly Griswold, Sabrina Craft, Tryphena Blodgett and Zadock Steel would all have been perfectly at home on a shopping trip up Diagon Alley…

Most of the names fell into distinct categories (I have standardized spellings):

  • Classic ‘English’ names — names which had gone over with the first settlers, having been in use for centuries back in Blighty before that: Agnes, Alice, Allen, Amy, Arnold, Barbara, Catherine, Charles, Christopher, Dorothy, Edmund, Edward, Frances, Francis, George, Gilbert, Giles, Henry, Justin, Lawrence, Leonard, Lucy, Mabel, Margaret, Margery, Martin, Miles, Millisent, Nicholas, Olive, Oliver, Parnel, Ralph, Richard, Robert, Roderick, Roger, Rosie, Stephen, Sybil,  Ursula, Walter.
  • Pet-names — Alison, Betsey/Betsy, Betty, Cate, Dilly, Dolly, Fanny, Katy, Lina, Molly, Nancy, Patty, Polly, Sally. Some people think that using short or pet-forms of names as given names in their own right is a new phenomenon – but it’s not, as this list shows; Alison was first used independently of Alice in the Middle Ages.
  • Biblical names — probably the largest category. As well as the familiar Bible names, the late 18th Century Americans were just as cheerfully trawling through the dustiest corners of the Old Testament to find obscure names for their children as they do today. All of these featured, a great many of them more than once. Aaron, Abel, Abiah/Abijah, Abiel, Abigail, Abner, Abraham, Abram, Achsah, Adonijah, Amasa, Amaziah, Amos, Andrew, Ard, Ariel, Asa, Asahel/Asael, Asaph, Asenath, Azariah, Azubah, Barnabas, Bathsheba, Benajah, Benjamin, Benoni, Beriah, Bernice, Beulah, Bithiah/Bethiah, Caleb, Cyrenius, Cyrus, Dan, Daniel, David, Deborah, Dorcas, Ebenezer, Eleazar, Eli, Eliab, Eliakim, Elias/Elijah, Eliasaph, Eliel, Elihu, Eliphalet, Elisha, Elizur, Elkanah, Enos, Epaphras, Ephraim, Erastus, Esther, Eunice, Ezra, Festus, Gad, Gamaliel, Gershom, Gideon, Hephzibah, Hezekiah, Hiel, Hiram, Huldah, Ichabod, Isaac, Isaiah, Israel, Ithiel, Jabez, Jacob, Jared, Jason, Jedediah, Jehiel, Jemima, Jephthah, Jerah, Jeremiah, Jeremy, Jerusha, Jesse, Joanna, Job, Joel, Jonathan, Josiah, Judith, Julius, Justus, Keturah,Kezia, Lemuel, Levi, Lois, Lot, Lucius, Lydia, Mahalah, Malachi, Marah, Marcus, Martha, Mehetabel, Merab, Micah, Michael, Miriam, Moses, Naomi, Nathan, Nathaniel, Nehemiah, Noadiah, Noah, Obadiah, Oren, Orpha, Ozias, Pelatiah, Persis, Philetus, Phineas/Phinehas, Phoebe, Rachel, Rebecca, Reuben, Reumah, Reuel, Rhoda, Ruah, Rufus, Ruhamah, Ruth, Salah, Samuel, Sapphira, Selah, Seth, Shadrack, Shubael, Silas, Simeon, Simon, Solomon, Susannah, Tabitha, Talitha-cumi, Tamar, Thaddeus, Thomas, Timothy, Tryphena, Vaniah, Zachariah, Zadok, Zebulon, Zelotes, Zenas, Zeruiah. Phew!
  • Puritan names — Charity, Deliverance, Desire, Freegrace, Freelove, Friend, Grace, Mercy, Patience, Prudence, Relief, Submit, Temperance, Thankful. Vine.
  • Names from the Classical World — Aeneas, Alethea, Alpheus, Augustus, Aurelia, Chloe, Cynthia, Darius, Doris, Drusilla, Flora, Irene, Juliana, Lavinia, Lucretia, Minerva, Parthenia, Penelope, Philo, Philomela, Phyllis, Polyxena, Roxana, Selina, Silvia, Sophia, Statira, Thalia, Urania, Zeno. A number of the names in the biblical list are also of Greek or Roman origin, but in most cases, their use in 18th Century was due to their appearance in the Bible – which is why they’re on that list, not this.
  • Names from literature — Clarinda, Clarissa, Fidelia, Horatio, Lorinda, Lucinda, Matilda, Miranda, Orinda, Sabrina, Violetta.
  • 18th Century fashionistas  — Ada, Amelia, Anna, Charlotte, Frederick, Harriet, Matilda, Theodosia.  Most of these were actually in existence before the 18th C, but it was in this century when they came into their element.
    Surnames – Alvan, Arbus, Avery, Bemsley, Bradford, Briggs, Buckley, Calvin, Chauncey, Chester, Church, Clark, Clarry, Denison, Dudley, Elvin, Grant, Gordon, Halsey, Hazard, Howard, Howel, Hubbard, Johnson, Leaman, Lewis, Lothrop, Montgomery, Moore, Palmer, Payson, Percy, Prentice, Roswell, Royal, Rue, Russell, Salmon, Selden, Sheldon, Sterling, Wait, Ward, Warren, Warriner, Wells, Willis, Wilson, Woodruff. A pet bugbear of many people today is the use of surnames as first names – but it is an old practice, as these names demonstrate.
  • Children of the Revolution — George Washington, Freedom, Independence, Liberty, Joy — and Lament? Lament may belong in the Puritan category, but Little Lament Hall was born on July 12, and I can’t help wondering whether his parents had not been quite so pleased about the Declaration! Perhaps Rue belongs here too!
  • Unique names — these gems and marvels may be scribal errors rather than genuine names, as I have not been able to verify them.  Ammarilla, Ammedilla, Ason, Azara, Bani, Barna, Beraliel, Clarine, Cylinda, Darkis, Dency, Elafan, Elazander, Etrania, Farazina, Finance, Heman/Himan, Hubbil, Ketchell, Lodamia, Lorain, Lowly/Lowley, Luanna, Lurannah, Lurany, Milete, Orange, Orra, Permilia, Philena, Prua, Rena, Sabin, Sabra, Salem, Saniel, Sule, Susa, Vienna, Welthy, Willeborough, Willibee, Zebriah.

And what about children actually born on the 4th July 1776? Not that many actually. Bethiah Gray, Charles Loomis, Gideon Cruttenden, Ruah Weed,  Selah Scovill – and (how could there not be?) Independence Booth!

Happy Independence Day!

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