When I think of Pilgrim names, I think of names like William, Susanna, Myles, Elizabeth, Rose, and Jasper — names of actual passengers on the Mayflower, and the kinds of names that those who like the Pilgrim vibe tend to consider when naming their children.
Interestingly, the Mayflower passengers also included Desire, Humility, Remember, Love, and Resolved—but those are the kinds of names that come to mind when I think of Puritan Names, and they’re the kinds of names that I don’t see parents considering too often for their children.
Just like Pilgrims and Puritans weren’t exactly the same, their naming reputations aren’t exactly the same either, at least in my mind. Both seem to enjoy virtue or “meaning” names and biblical names, but the Puritan naming style seems to embrace the strangest of the names in these veins.
Examples of real names borne by Puritans include:
Fight the Good Fight of Faith
If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned (middle name)
Mahershalalhasbaz (mentioned in Isaiah 8:1,3)
(Those phrase-names are amazing! One Puritan minister is quoted as saying that “a good name is a thread tyed about the finger, to make us mindful of the errand we came into the world to do for our master.” These names literally achieve that!)
As I was reading through those names, however, I was struck by the fact that there are a lot of names loved by Catholics that would fit right in here, with one notable difference: ours are in (or derived from) languages other than English. Consider:
Adeodatus (“given by God”)
Amadeus (“love of God”)
Beatrix (“she who blesses, makes happy, delights”)
Boniface (“good fate”)
Caeli (“of heaven”; see the Marian title Regina Caeli [Queen of Heaven])
Charis (“grace, kindness,” contained in “Eucharist”)
Dolores (“sorrows”; see the Marian title Nuestra Señora de los Dolores [Our Lady of Sorrows])
Immaculata (“immaculate”; see the Marian title Maria Immaculata [Mary Immaculate])
Laetitia (“joy”; see the Marian title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae [Cause of Our Joy])
Pax (“peace”; the Franciscan motto is Pax et Bonum [Peace and Good])
Regina (“queen”; see various Marian titles such as Regina Caeli [Queen of Heaven], Regina Angelorum [Queen of the Angels], etc.)
It’s an interesting thought! And perhaps a helpful one to parents expecting a Thanksgiving baby who might like to tap into the naming style of the early New England settlers without feeling like Humiliation and Kill Sin are their only options.
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Copyright 2019 Kate Towne