Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Like the Boston Birth Records

There are too many Abigails, Samuels, Hannahs, and Jacobs in American classrooms today. When considering an old-fashioned New England name for your newborn, why not consider honoring one of these forgotten Bostonians?

Tamzine Capril
(wife of Christopher Capril, gave birth to daughter Joanna on Nov. 28, 1703 — Tamzine is a rare feminine form of "Thomas")

Crumil Lobdell
(son of Joseph and Elizabeth Lobdell b. Dec. 3, 1700 — Any idea about the origins of "Crumil"?)

Wigglesworth Switser
(husband of Nesley Switser, father of Rebecca b. Dec. 10, 1700 — Wigglesworth's second wife was named Ursilla — probably named for the powerful Wigglesworth family)

Damoras Bruff
(daughter of Stephen and Damoras Bruff, b. Oct. 27, 1701 — this name is probably a variant spelling of Damaris, but I like the sound of "Bruff")

Newcombe Blague
(husband of Mary Blague, father of Mary b. March 19, 1702 — Blague is French for a joke or trick)

Orchard Guy
(son of John and Anna Guy, b. Nov. 11, 1702 — noun + surname Guy = humor)

Dudson Kilcup
(son of Roger and Abigail Kilcup, b. Dec. 28, 1702 — I thought this one sounded particularly Dickensian)

Cyprian Southiack

(husband of Elizabeth Southiack, father of Mary b. April 1, 1702 — see: St. Cyprian, early Christian writer)

Sands Dowding
(son of Joseph and Ann Dowding, b. Feb. 28, 1703)

Woodmansie Richardson
(son of John and Margaret Richardson, b. July 17, 1704 — there's a Woodmasie, NJ, so I'm guessing there's a Woodmansie family)

Epaphras Shrimpton
(husband of Rebecca, father of William b. Nov. 21, 1704 — see: Epaphras, early Colossian preacher)

Harborne and Torshel Bannister
(twin sons of Thomas and Frances Bannister, b. June 4-5, 1705 — Harborne is a region of central England and is probably a surname as well — Torshel may be after Samuel Torshel, Puritan writer or his family)

Meddlecot Cook
(son of Elisha and Jane Cook, b. August 13, 1705)

Noyse Godfrey
(son of Thomas and Esther Godfrey, b. Dec. 10, 1705 — probably related to the Noyse family — see below)

Grizzel Eastwick
(wife of John, mother of John b. Aug. 6, 1705 — Grizzel is an uncommon variant of Griselda)

Hennerina Vryling
(daughter of John and Mary, b. Feb. 10, 1705 — Vrieling is a Dutch name, maybe Hennerina is too. According to Google's 219 hits, it is a pretty rare name.)

Furnell Smallpeace
(son of John and Olive, b. May 3, 1706 — Furnell is an English surname)

Buttolph Gutridge
(son of Robert and Mary, b. Sept. 17, 1707 — probably related to the Buttolph family)

Belcher Noyes
(son of Oliver and Anna, b. Oct. 10, 1709 — another surname-turned-given name)

That's enough for now. These are only my top picks from the first nine years of this century-long record.

In addition to these unusual names, I found several names that suggest Iberian, French, or Mediterranean origins. Since Boston was a port city, men from all over the world could be found working in shipping industries. It's interesting to find these names in the birth records since it implies that some of these men either brought their wives or married local women (see also Blague and Vryling above). I can't say for certain that this is evidence of European ethnic diversity in colonial Boston, but it does point in that direction. I should also note that dozens of parents and children in this record are designated as "Negroes." These individuals are not among them:

Josue Marriner
(husband of Hannah, father of Edward b. Nov. 20, 1702, Hannah b. July 8, 1705)

Daniel Barnardo
(husband of Marion, father of Simon b. March 5, 1703 and James b. Dec. 20, 1705)

Other non-English surnames (Lablond, Reneuf, Decoster, Boutineau) show up, but I can't be sure that they aren't British families.

1 comment:

J. L. Bell said...

My favorite is a doctor from western Massachusetts named Preserved Clap.