Monday, July 14, 2008

Deliverance Wakefield

Deliverance Wakefield is not a particularly unusual name for a 17th-century Bostonian. What is somewhat remarkable is that Deliverance was a boy, but was named for his mother. His entry in the Boston birth records reads,
Deliverance son of John and Deliverance Wakefield born Sept. 8 [1664]
It's possible that this is an error in the records, but there are other boys named Deliverance, so I have no real reason to suspect that it is a mistake.

While modern virtue names are usually girls' names (Faith, Grace, Joy), seventeenth-century Bostonians gave virtue names to children of both sexes. In some cases, names were not gender-specific (Return, Experience, Constance, Wait, Hope, Hopestill).

Here are some examples of male virtue names from the Boston records:
  • Hope Allen, husband of Rachel Allen; their son Joseph b. October 4, 1655
  • Hope, son of "Mingo, a neger," b. May 19, 1641
  • Faithful Bartlett, husband of Margaret Bartlett; their child Faithful was born September 30, 1671
  • Waite-still Winthrop, son of John and Elizabeth Winthrop, b. February 27, 1641
  • Return Wayt, husband of Martha Wayt; their daughter Martha b. August 4, 1681
  • Experience Willis, husband of Elizabeth Willis; their son Samuel b. August 31, 1682
  • Fearnott Shaw, husband of Bethiah Shaw; their son William b. November 4, 1684
  • Constance Sams, husband of Elizabeth Sams; their daughter Mary b. December 2, 1684
  • Increase Nowell, son of Increase Nowell, baptized at the First Church, November 21, 1630
  • Free Grace Bendall, son of Edward and Anne Bendall, b. September 30, 1636
  • Beleeve Gridley, son of Richard and Grace Gridley, b. May 1, 1640
  • Hopefor Bendall, son of Edward and Marah Bendall, b. October 7, 1641
  • Strong Furnell, husband of Ellenor Furnell; their daughter Elizabeth b. May 7, 1643
  • Rich-Grace Simons, son of Henry Simons, baptized at First Church, April 21, 1644
  • Newgrace Wilson, son of William Wilson, died August, 1645
  • Vigilant Oliver, son of Samuel Oliver, baptized at First Church, June 27, 1647
  • Clement Critchet, servant of John Sunderland, d. May 29, 1653
  • Hopestil Bridgham, son of Henry and Elisabeth Bridgham, b. July 29, 1658
  • Mr. Comfort Starr died January 2, 1659/1660
And some girls' names:
  • Hope Hawkins, daughter of Thomas and Hannah Hawkins, b. April 2, 1643
  • Hopestill Vyall, daughter of John and Mary Vyall, b. August 14, 1639
  • Return Gridley, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Gridley, b. April 8, 1639
  • Constance Wooster, wife of William Wooster; their son Joseph b. June 22, 1681
  • Thankful Griggs, wife of Thomas Griggs; their daughter Hannah b. May 30, 1682
  • Experience Roberts, wife of John Roberts; their son John born June 13, 1684
  • Wayte Coggeshall, daughter of John Coggeshall, b. September 11, 1636
  • Deliverance Potter, daughter of Robert Potter of Roxbury, baptized at First Church, March 5, 1637
  • (female virtue names also include Prudence, Grace, Mercy, Temperance, Patience, Joy, Recompense, Honour, Pittie, Restored, Faith, Submit, Charity)
Other names that have no indication of gender in the records:
  • Vertue Orchard, baptized at the First Church of Boston, September, 1681
  • Wates, child of John Fayerweather, baptized at the First Church of Boston, December 11, 1681
  • Reforme Bendall, child of Edward and Marah Bendall, b. October 18, 1638 is identified as a son in one section of the records and a daughter in another
  • More-Mercie Bell, child of Thomas and Anne Bell, baptized at First Church, January 17, 1646
  • Restore Bendall, child of Edward Bendall, baptized at First Church, December 10, 1649
These are not exhaustive lists — they're just a taste.

Also noteworthy: "Christian" was almost exclusively a female name in colonial New England, while "Pilgrim" was usually a male name.

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