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Beyond John and Priscilla: Surprising Names of the Mayflower Pilgrims

Looking for creative baby name ideas? You could flip through an atlas, check tonight's reality TV listings or even browse the models at your local car dealership. Chances are, though, that even at Thanksgiving time you won't be tempted to search the passenger manifest of the good ship Mayflower. Most parents today give 17th-century style a pass. After all, of the 74 men aboard the Mayflower, 16 were named John.

Perhaps you should think again. Centuries before anybody thought to turn Heaven inside out and make Nevaeh, the Pilgrims were dishing out creative, spiritual "meaning" names. Nestled among the Mayflower's familiar classics you'll find names so unusual they'd stand out even in today's anything-goes playgrounds.

Here's a lineup of genuine pilgrim names that go way beyond John and Priscilla. You can consider them as creative ideas for your own Thanksgiving baby -- or at least scare your relatives with the prospect:

The Voyagers
Two baby boys were born on board the Mayflower, and both were christened in honor of the voyage: Oceanus (in ancient times, the name of a vast body of water thought to encircle the world) and Peregrine (meaning wandering or migrating, from the Latin for traveler). Modern counterparts: Journey, Destiny

The Modest Virtues
These are the names with the most distinctive Pilgrim style: Resolved, Humility and Remember. A name like Remember sounds androgynous today, but in the 17th century Resolved was consistently male, Humility and Remember consistently female. Modern counterparts: Serenity, Sincere

The Not-So Modest Virtues
They may have sounded pious in the Pilgrims' time, but a son named Love and a daughter named Desire would come across rather differently today. Modern counterparts: Cherish, Bliss

The Macho
The name Wrestling was short for "Wrestling with God." Is there any tougher way to show your devotion? Modern counterparts: Blaze, Gunner


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November 25, 2009 12:19 PM
By Alex (not verified)

Mmmm. . .Peregrine also sounds good for a falcon, don't you think? ;-)

November 25, 2009 1:20 PM
By Jennie

I actually think Peregrine and Oceanus are both great names for a contemporary baby!

November 26, 2009 10:48 AM
By Jillian (not verified)

Don't forget their last names! Our little Alden is quite modern, we think.

November 26, 2009 10:14 PM
By xerx (not verified)

I once read a book as a child about a girl named Remembrance Patience Whipple about 10-12 years ago, and the name has stuck with me since. I personally prefer Remembrance over Remember - that imperative verb is a bit much, especially for a child. At the back of the book the author talked about the naming conventions of the Saints (what we now call pilgrims).

Here's the book's info/URL. < >

November 27, 2009 3:25 PM
By Kate (not verified)

xerx, in the book you are referring to the girl's name is Remember, not Remembrance.

December 2, 2009 2:07 PM
By xerx (not verified)

Oops! I guess I'm mixing up two characters in my head. *blush*

December 2, 2009 2:07 PM
By xerx (not verified)

Oops! I guess I'm mixing up two characters in my head. *blush*

December 3, 2009 9:22 PM
By Linda (not verified)

My son's best friends name is Hansel And his sister is Gretel, of course. I couldn't believe until I got to know them.

December 3, 2009 9:22 PM
By Linda (not verified)

My son's best friends name is Hansel And his sister is Gretel, of course. I couldn't believe until I got to know them.

December 3, 2009 9:22 PM
By Linda (not verified)

My son's best friends name is Hansel And his sister is Gretel, of course. I couldn't believe until I got to know them.

January 17, 2010 4:29 AM
By Mary Margaret Johnston (not verified)

My daughters' names are Katharine Lelah and Amelia Claire. They go by the nick names of Katie and Amy. Simple. Easy to remember, easy to spell, easy to pronounce. Of course, as all siblings do, they get into squabbles, and when they do, I refer to them as "Kane and Abel." Love my girls!

January 18, 2010 3:18 PM
By Caitlyn (not verified)

Going back through my family tree, I noticed a bunch of women named Comfort - I'm seriously considering seeing if my husband will consider it as a middle name

November 25, 2010 11:12 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm pretty sure that Pippin from Lord of the Rings (one of the four main Hobbits) is named Peregrin Took nn Pippin - which I assume is just a variant of Peregrine kind of interesting to know it means traveler - I like the name but it will also be a Hobbit's name to me!

super interesting posting!

November 26, 2014 1:39 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

In doing genealogical research, I discovered that one of my (female) ancestors in the 1600's or 1700's was named Experience Bliss. Somehow it sounds both colonial and hippie at the same time.

November 26, 2014 1:58 PM
By Juanaquena (not verified)

Peregrine White, son of William and Susanna White, was born while the Mayflower was at anchor at Plymouth. His older brother: Resolved White. I wonder if "Peregrine" might have been a surname in either the White family line or the family line of Susanna. I haven't found any reference to her maiden name at this time. There was/is a strong British Isles tradition, even among the Puritans, to name a child (often a boy) the mother's maiden name or a surname in one of the family lines. I have several living relatives with such given names.

November 26, 2014 2:11 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I read a book once called Saints and Strangers written by a George Willison (I'm probably not remembering the last name of the author correctly.) Anyhow, the book covered the settling of Plymouth Rock by the pilgrims, how they were different from the Puritans who settled in Boston, and at the back of the book were the passenger lists for those settling what was called "Plimoth plantation". I found some interesting names for women, to wit, Tryphosa (Biblical from the New Testament), Apphia (also Biblical from the New Testament), Wybra (first instance of recounting the name and it's certainly unusual and have no idea at all where it comes from), and Humility. I know the name Desire was mentioned above as a feminine name, but we do hear the name in the French form of Désirée.

November 26, 2014 4:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"Wrestling with God" is a Biblical name that refers to the record of Jacob who wrestled with an angel. The gist of it is to be stubborn in faith.

November 27, 2014 12:53 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You mean that Resolved was female (because you already mentioned that Remember was male) the Green Mountain boy Remember Baker (1737-1775).

November 27, 2014 12:55 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Oh, sorry, you did say Resolved was male...however, Remember was also male.

November 27, 2014 1:04 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The Green Mountain Boy Remember Baker, in the 18th century, was a first cousin of Ethan Allen.

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