A recent Slate.com article brought to light some of the unusual naming conventions among early Puritans.
A Boy Named "Humiliation": Some Wacky, Cruel, and Bizarre Puritan Names
A wide variety of Hebrew names came into common usage beginning in 1560, when the first readily accessible English Bible was published. But by the late 16th century many Puritan communities in Southern Britain saw common names as too worldly, and opted instead to name children after virtues or with religious slogans as a way of setting the community apart from non-Puritan neighbors. Often, Puritan parents chose names that served to remind the child about sin and pain.
Some of the highlights are the man mentioned in the article's title, Humiliation Hynde (who passed the name on to his son), Praise-God Barebone, the brothers Die-Well and Farewell Sykes, Sorry-for-sin Coupard, and the unfortunate Kill-sin Pimple. Some of them were even saddled with entire Biblical phrases, like Praise-God Barebone's son, If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned.
There were, of course, also a good number of their contemporaries named for virtues. Some of them remain popular today, such as Hope, Faith, Felicity, Grace, and Justice.
You can find out more by reading the entire article.
We've come across a fair number of unusual names in our own collections, so we're going to be starting a monthly feature to share some of our favorites with you. Keep an eye out for the first one in the next week or so.
"The Portraiture of M Praise God Barebone," published Feb. 1840 by Wm. Richardson. Image via Kentucky Digital Library.