Reflections on our ancestors names

Oct 30, 2005 5:50 PM

As many of you already know, we added a new branch to our family tree on 12 October 2005, with the birth of our son, Joshua.

While trying to name our new baby, I stumbled across some interesting information pertaining to family history and the selection of names from which our ancestors chose the names for their children. For example, in Elizbethan England, the 60% of all children were given one of 5-7 popular names for their sex at the time. Choices included Elizabeth, Ann, Joan, Margaret, Alice, Mary and Agnes for girls, and John, Thomas, William, Richard and Robert for boys.

In later years names were imported from Europe but I thought it was interesting that even in this time of supposed religious zeal, that very few biblical names were actually used (Elizabeth, Mary, John, Thomas being the religious names from above). There were very few Benjamins, Matthews, Lukes, Joshuas, Timothys etc to be found at this time.

Another interesting point is that when you look at these names, from the boys names only 1/7 starts with a letter in the first half of the alphabet, and conversely looking at the girls names, only 2/7 starts with a letter in the latter half of the alphabet. This means that when searching for records in indexes, it is quicker to search starting at A when looking for a female ancestor, and Z when looking for a male ancestor.

To read the full article:

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