Naming Names

Mark Hailwood

Thomas
Nicholas
John
Thomas
Richard
William
Andrew
Robert
Thomas
Thomas
William
John
Nicholas

As you can see from this quick sample of first names of Reading alehouse keepers, taken from a list compiled in 1622, originality was not a priority when it came to early modern naming practices. It always catches the eye then when a more unusual name crops up in the archives. A recent favourite of mine is another Reading alehouse keeper: Valentine Skeate sounds as though he could be from the pages of a Dickens novel.

Keeping your eyes peeled for interesting names can add a bit of light relief to archive grubbing, especially when you are working through rather dry list material. Feel free to share any of your own that you come across.

[Part II in the series is here]

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5 thoughts on “Naming Names

  1. I just came across a Mistris Tannakin Skinker, the ‘hog-faced woman’ from Holland. STC (2nd ed.) / 22627.5

  2. There was someone in Hertfordshire in the 1640s called Fromabove Dove! So far I haven’t found a Frombelow Crow.

    In St Botolph’s Aldgate there was a Dutch woman known as ‘the great hulk’.

    • Fromabove Dove! That’s amazing Gavin. Although I worry that the puritans would disapprove of the suggestion of the holy spirit as a dove, rather blasphemous!

  3. Some nominative determinism: an Essex alehouse-keeper was presented to the Justices for selling ale during divine service in January 1680 – his Christian name was not recorded, but his surname was ‘Baccus’.

    * In ‘William Holcroft, His Booke’, edited by James Sharpe, 1986, p.69.

  4. I just found Humphrey Henchmen, a seventeenth-century bishop. Rather disappointingly, ODNB says that ‘in his diocese Bishop Henchman was firm, moderate, and undoubtedly popular’.

    *John Spurr, ‘Henchman, Humphrey (bap. 1592, d. 1675)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://0-www.oxforddnb.com.lib.exeter.ac.uk/view/article/12898, accessed 1 Nov 2012]

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