Naming Names

Mark Hailwood


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]

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 [, accessed 1 Nov 2012]

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