Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fifteenth Beginning: Mayflower Children

I was reading through the encyclopedia the other day - - not to stay current, the books were from 1964 - - when I came across an interesting factoid or two.  Now, I had known that the Hippies of the Sixties and the New Agers of Whenever were not the first to drape their newfound philosophy in public in the form of odd names for their children, but I hadn't known that proof of this had sailed on the Mayflower in 1620.
Yes, right in the pages of The World Book Encyclopedia, in a list of passengers from William Bradford's history (he was the second governor of the Plymouth Colony, which was neither a stunning business deal nor a boisterous good time) stand names that foreshadow the Rainbow's and Raven's, the Dweezil's and Moon Unit's of our times.  Nearly all of these oddly named puritans were children at the time of the voyage.  Too young to protest, no doubt.
Right there in history stand William and Mary Brewster's sons:  Love and Wrasling (Wrestling).  Remember is listed as one of Isaack and Mary Allerton's children.  Not to be outdone, William and Susana White brought a boy named Resolve and made another at sea, named Peregrine (the word meant traveler before it became a hawk).  Also born at sea was Oceanus, no gender given, child of Steven and Elizabeth Hopkins.
Edward and Ann Tillis brought two young 'cossens', one of which was Humility Coper.  At the other end of the virtue spectrum was the one adult with an odd name:  Desire Minter, no gender given, who came with two man-servants.  I'm not sure whether it would be worse to be a woman or a man named Desire.  Although the name could have been short for a familiar religious phrase.  Like the name Wrath, which was often a shortening of the Puritan cognomen:  Wrath of God.
       In fact Wrasling could have been Wrasling Temptation or Sin or maybe Satan, himself. Yes, Satan could be a part of your name if your parents were truly trendy Puritans. Resolve might have been Resolved to Purity or Against Sin. And Remember may have remembered something besides his or her unnoted gender.
So if your children are considering giving your grandchildren glow-in-the-dark, bumper-sticker names, remember that this is not some new-fangled road to perdition, nor is it un-American.  Just smile as you trot out this list.  Chuckle as you shake your head about how dated trendy things become.  Express concern for the child's well being when that happens.  And remember that, when he turned 13, Wavy Gravy's son changed his name from Howdy Do-good Tomahawk Truckstop Gravy to Jordan Beecher Romney, a name so normal that I had to look it up for this essay because I'd forgotten it.  Now that's a name!

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