It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to*

by chuckofish

It has been a very enjoyable week: good weather; relaxing Tai Chi classes (yes, grasshopper, Tai Chi), and plenty of quiet time to indulge my addiction to genealogical research.

Today I want to consider names, because there’s no avoiding the fact that those early Puritan settlers of New England went in for some doozies. First let me clarify relationships so you don’t get confused:

Briefly, in 1671 Smith Woodward married Deliverance Hoppin, daughter of Stephen Hoppin and Hannah Makepeace (b. 1626). Smith’s and Deliverance’s son, Smith Woodward, married Thankful Pope in 1691, and their daughter, Sarah Woodward, married John Tukey in 1718. Their son, John Tukey, married Abigail Sweetsir in 1749. John and Abigail were the great-great grandparents of Henrietta Tukey, who married Abiel H. Stanley in c. 1858 to become the parents of our great-grandmother, Isabel Stanley Sargent (b. 1860).

Now there’s nothing particularly unusual about the names of Smith Woodward and his beloved, Thankful Pope, although we can raise an eyebrow at the fact that in 1691 they were fined for “fornication before marriage”. They must have been quite a couple, however, for they produced 13 children, among whom we find another Thankful, followed by Deliverance, Silence, and Submit in that order. Hmm… the last two names seem like Mother’s wishful thinking, but thirteen children is a lot for one woman to handle, even with help.

Smith Woodward’s father, also Smith Woodward, married Deliverance Hoppin (b. 1648). After Smith (Sr.) died, she married Richard Butt and became Deliverance Hoppin Butt (!?).

Deliverance's tombstone in the Dorchester (Boston) North Burying Ground

Deliverance Butt’s tombstone in the Dorchester (Boston) North Burying Ground

And let’s not forget her  sibling, Opportunity Hoppin.

Returning to the Woodward family, Smith Junior’s pleasingly named daughter, Sarah Woodward, married John Tukey, and their son, John, married Abigail Sweetsir (b. 1728), who had a brother named Wigglesworth Sweetsir (b. 1735).  John and Abigail produced 12, conservatively named children, the only standout among them being Houchin Tukey (b.1754).

Finally, Deliverance Hoppin’s mother, Hannah Makepeace (b. 1626), had a half-sister named Waitawhile Makepeace. In their father, Thomas Makepeace’s will, Waitawhile also appears as Wateawhile, Waytawhile, and Waitstill. It seems that the lawyers subscribed to the idea that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Lest you think that the only people to bestow inventive names lived on this side of the pond, my DH has lately discovered some real wonders in England, among whom our favorite has to be the unfortunate lady (and no relation), Fanny Suckspeach, who was arrested for theft in 1827, but eventually exonerated.

Looking for something new and different to name a baby? Dig into your family history!

* W.C. Fields