Question of the Week: What's the most unusual name you've found in your family tree? [closed]

+60 votes
4.9k views

We've all struggled with the families who use the same names generation after generation. When we come across someone who dared to be different, it's like a breath of fresh air, AND it makes it easier to trace those ancestors.

What unusual names have you found?

 

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
closed by Julie Ricketts
Wigglesworth family
The Purkyepile family from Tennessee. Some of them shortened it to Purkey.
Mine is Dragging Canoe,  who was Primary Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Very clever. Love it.
Yes there ARE some Doosies !  Best and favorite one is Theophilus !  That name is found in 3 connected maternal lines, - Cantrell, Henley and ~ oops, forget which other line!  There is also a right murderous GGGM named PANTLEY - or Panthea var. !
Might be kin on one of my lines - I have a "LittleBerry" in there somewhere !
I have two LittleBerrys:  LittleBerry Shields and his grandson, LittleBerry Chandler.  A southern thing?
I just read the will of one Solomon Wood, of Jefferson County, Georgia... His son's names?? Green Wood, Red Wood and White Wood,
I also have a Theophilis, my 3rd or 4th GGG was Theophilis Thompson.
Classical Roman-Greco names rated right up there with the  Biblical names.

190 Answers

+6 votes
 
Best answer
My great-aunt's father's name was Manley Cox. ;)
answered by E Childs G2G6 Mach 6 (62.6k points)
selected by Betty Rehusch
+26 votes
Providence
answered by Marty McClain G2G1 (1.5k points)
I believe I've had a couple of those in my tree, too, Marty! Along with an Experience and Recompense. :-)
I like Recompense.....lol
My most unusual name I have found, is one of a distant cousin.....Waters Stone!
Lol...It reminds me of a waterfall. Thanks for sharing.
You're welcome, Marty! As you know, in the past, sons were often destined to carry on, not only a father's surname, but the mother's maiden name, as well. I believe that the Waters surname, must be in there, somehow. When you pair Waters with their surname of Stone, it does have a very woodsy forest dwelling sound to them.
My Mother's surname is Thaler which was the name of an ancient middle eastern silver coin that was gradually taken into use throughout Europe.

When the Spanish began using it they like the Irish were unable to pronounce the TH sound so it became known as the Dollar
Love your reply, Thank you for that...
@ Kathy Jo Bryant

I have a Mourning Stone. Her married last name is Mills.

So, she's Mourning Stone Mills.

Everyone in my family thought she was American Indian, but I'm pretty sure she's actually English. The English are pretty creative with their names.

(look at my two favorite actors to play Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch.)

I actually have several ancestors with the first name of Mourning. But, great-grandma #7 Mourning Stone Mills is my favorite for creative use in naming.
I agree, and speaking of Native American's Names. I have a great aunt named Pawnee.......
+53 votes
I have a Faith, a Hope, a Charity, a Temperance, and an Experience.  But the most unusual one was a daughter named Beaton.  Except her surname was Downe.

Beaton Downe...
answered by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (490k points)
Ros ... say it isn't true!! Oh my.
that's just wrong poor girl
+22 votes
My grandmother was named Dovie. I also have a Keziah (female) in the family.

For my kids, through their mother, there is Darl (male) and Elkanah (male), further back is Tryphenia (female), Marvel (female), Barker, (male), Experience (female), a couple of Hezekiah (male), Zebulon (male), Phineas (male). There might be more.

My kids have unusual names too, but I won't go into that.
answered by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (157k points)
I would say that it should make it easier to trace them through census records, but we all know they were probably spelled 10 different ways.
You sure you were not looking at my tree? I have all those same names!
I have at least 2 Kezia's in my tree, but none of the others names - thank goodness.
I have Keziah, and Tryphenia.
My Great Grandmother was Dovie Cook Green., but my strange name is Berryman, but there are more.
We probably share common New England ancesetors, I have all those names too!
@Laura, Shirley: The list of names that I said were further back were mostly from Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) families. They had a tendency to intermarry, keep the same names in the family, and yes, can be traced to New England.
We lived next door to a Dovie when I was growing up.  She was younger than my mother.
I also have (2) Keziah's in mine. Some of the more unusual names in my tree: Millshook Long, Iona Mountjoy, a Dimple May, Lemon Woodring, Mourning Hogg, Texas Holliday, someone with the first name of Hooker (thank God I didn't have those parents), a Della Ware (parents with a sense of humor), and a Looney Cook. The most unusual surnames I have are: Heironymous, Proudfoot, Handshoe, Skipwith, Corker, Defoleschamp, Gooch, and Gwenwynnwynn.
Oh, and I forgot Soda Rumph.. another unusually named person in my tree.
+26 votes

It's actually not that unusual  but I remember being really amused when I first came across  Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego Dunkley.

Abednego, son of Shadrack (and  from memory, nephew of Meshack) obviously found it all too much and ends up on one  census as Bendigo.

(sadly a case of same surname, same area as my mother's ancestors but no known relationship)

I wondered what was in the parent's minds when they baptised a daughter  Kerenhappuch (but it made sense, she was the daughter of a widower who re married in his old age, when he was blind. ) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keren-happuch

answered by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (192k points)

Well, now I have the music from Veggie Tales stuck in my head. ;-)

The "Bendigo" combination is just too much!!

Every time I see or read those names, my mind starts chanting - Shadrach, Meshach, and Into bed you go!!  LOL
We had a slight variation of the same!  "Shadrach, Meshach, and off-to-bed-we-go"  :)
My great-great grandfather was named Andrew Meshach-and-Abednago (Essary) (1826). My uncle said Andrew was just Shadrack in another language, but seems it's not so.

I too have Keren-happuch, however, she's spelled Kerrehappuch. Woolsey

Makes me wonder if the records are wrong in our Woolsey research? Hmmm...

I also read that it means "Beautiful eyes." And, the name Keren-happuch in the Saffron Walden records, before 1600. I didn't follow up on it, but it appeared to be a Surname!

My maternal line has Abednego Smart occurring in two separate generations and my senior daughter was named Keren abbreviated to Kerry for the biblical Keren Happuch whose name means 'Beautifier' ~ literally horn of antimony at a time when horn was a useful container and a fine white antimonious compound was used to powder the face and lighten the skin. Another compound of Antimony also provided them with a kohl-like eye-liner.  We should remember these ancient names were written in a very different script than ours so spelling variations are to be expected.
I have also seen the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego names in the  Turner Lineage!
I have also seen the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego names in the  Turner Lineage!

And also State names, I have a Mississippi Indiana Arnold capped Sippi
+27 votes
Not on my tree, but while working I came across a child named Surplus.

Poor kid.  Nothing like feeling a little unwanted!

Other notables: Loved (a male), Preserved, Resign, Submit, Sobriety, and Chill (born in 1800s)
answered by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (521k points)
Oh!! It would be interesting to know how that was interpreted back then -- did it have a negative or positive connotation??
I imagine that "Surplus" represented the parents high hopes for the blessings the child would receive.
Preserved Fish?  I have a couple of those.  And several Ichabods.
Along with my 7th great grandfather Preserved FISH, I have 9 other Preserved FISH in my tree.
Clear winner here.
+24 votes

Champagne, (French origin). 

answered by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I wonder if she had a bubbly personality. ;-)
I went to school with a Champagne. She would have been born circa 1992-1993. I always thought her name was pretty cool. It suited her.
+31 votes
This person isn't in my family tree, but I came across a man that was given the name Western Territory.
answered by E. Gatlin G2G6 (9.8k points)
There's one I've never heard before!
How about middle name Transatlantic - a daughter born at sea,
I have state names in my tree:  Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
I don't think that Biblical names or names from literature should be

considered unusual, but  Western Territory and transatlantic ARE unusual,

and no doubt one of  kind!
+21 votes
Around the Revolution:  Eliphalet (male) and a son of Lydia Tisdale and John Payne who was named:  Tisdale Payne.  I don't know when or where Tisdale was born but he witnessed a Christening in the 1700's in Nova Scotia.  He could have been an uncle?  

The mystery continues!

-- Janine
answered by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
+23 votes
Kerenhappuch

This name is from a family that was connected by marriage to my Burrow family. She is a girl. Apparently it comes from the Old Testament.

Her brothers and sisters all had normal names - Robert, Henry, Philip, Thomas, John, Richard, Sarah and Mary. I have no idea why she got the strange name.
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (479k points)

Robynne -- you're the second one to mention a family with that name!! :-)

See Helen Ford's here.

Karenhappuch is a biblical name.  It's the name of the youngest daughter of Job. 

She was indeed Job's youngest daughter and her name means horn of antimony or box of cosmetics.
+25 votes
i have to many to list over 50 that i have not heard of before but found the most common thing in my tree was to  give their children as a first name the parent or grandparents surname  like Alabaster, Ennington, Underwood, Edilington, Atkinson, Robinson and Lovett just to name a few but we also have some very strange first names like

females                                          male

Trederick Temple                           Enock

Alphonsus  ilma                             Lambert

Thora Tryhosa                               Haroitio Havelock Laing

Amberite Jorja                               zudock Septimus

Hughina imilda                              Stanilaus Laban

i dont know what thet where thinking
answered by Sandra Hopkins G2G5 (5.6k points)
Wow, I bet the census takers had fun with those!!
Hughina!  That one cracks me up!
+24 votes
My grandpa had 2 sisters Homo and Elmo and a brother Lacey.  I have 3 Blaney s in my tree - and they seem to be the only ones in existence.
answered by Susan Fitzmaurice G2G6 Mach 3 (39.2k points)
+24 votes
Pick one:

Welcome A. (who married Basheba D.)
Day Willian
Zerelda J. Bourbon Willian
Synthia Bourbon G.
Ransom Cockerill M.
Chesley Owens Cromwell M.
Elexious Musick
Dewey Dolphus M.
Reuben Dolphus V.
Flois Oneda V.
Dumas L.
Odious M.
Orlando Vendom S.
Penoma Ophelia S.
Ewell Orestes R.
Branham L.
Weeden Lescar L.
Osa Delbert Wallace P.
Caleb Weeden Franklin H.
Mazetta Froggett
Shadrick Ditto S.
Shadrack Murrell S.
Murrell Morgan S.
Paschael Green B.
John Peartree Burks
Dr. Wm. Mallory Burks
Zelpha Omega S.
Quinten Oliphant L.
Orpha Inez M.
Oren Osborn L.
Modea Legion M.
Mildogurmon M.
Marchiman M.
Zona Elzada K.
Clements Elzie M.
Clement Billingslee W.
Uloth Uriah M.
Quarles Tunstall M.
Silvaneous B.
Electius Oscar H.
Owana Aileen H.
Ozella W.
Oval Eldon G.
Buel Oden G.
Zeulima V.
Aquilla Martin W.
Quintilla M.
Rozaltha V.
Alverta A.
Elihue S.
Bolivar G.
Edsel G.
Beverly Marcellus M. (male)
Cassius Marcellus Clay M. (b. 1856)

Twins in my ex-wife's tree:
Ima Hoagg M.
Ura Hoagg M.
(I met Aunt Ura.)
answered by Bill Vincent G2G6 Mach 3 (37.6k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
I am cracking up!  Read the list fast ;)
Ima Hogg (1882-1975) was the daughter of Gov. Jim Hogg of Texas, known as the "First Lady of Texas," and quite a formidable person. When we first heard about her in Texas History in 7th Grade, we also were told she had a sister named "Yura." That part turned out to be a myth -- apparently started by the Governor when he was on the campaign trail, because he liked a good laugh.
And the famous Crystal Shanda Lear, daughter of Bill Lear of Lear Jets.
Hilarious!
A woman in my home town ran out of names for her babies, so she named her 9th and 10th children ''Niner'' and ''Tenner''. The girl used the name ''Nina'' instead, but Tenner was out local sheriff for several years.
I live in Lake Jackson, TX just down the road from Ima HOGG's home.  Is this the same or a coincidence?
Coincidence I think. Those were old married ladies in Kentucky when I met them. Hogg was their married name.
Ura and Ima were in Springfield, Illinois.  My wife worked with Ura .  My wife Carol was a Coe from Mechanicsburg.  Her grandmother was a Garvey.  Geo Boyden, Delaware Valley Pennsylvania
I vote favorites as ODIOUS and SILVANEOUS   LOL
+29 votes
My great grandfather and his father were both middle named " Failure"; Rueben Failure and Jacob Failure. Never heard of that one, would hate to live with that one!
answered by Carl Bray G2G1 (1.7k points)
+21 votes
From my family tree Perdom Hydrs Collings - https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Collings-411   - i have no idea why but wondered if they named him after a medical condition as he died at 8 months

From my connecting - Primus Communitatis Flitcroft https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Flitcroft-5
answered by Paula Dea G2G6 Mach 5 (52k points)
"The First Community" Flitcroft ... very interesting!! :-D

I think it's Purdom Hydro and it's all about local politics

https://books.google.com/books?id=X7J_r0djVJoC&pg=PA153&dq=purdom+hydro

 

Cool, Thanks RJ I will have a read :)
My Grandmother's baby brother died at age 15 months, his name was Minus.
+22 votes
Definitely my GGG grandfather, Sceva, Rollins-857. I don't think I've found a census yet that's gotten his name spelling quite right : )
answered by Jayme Arrington G2G6 Mach 6 (60.7k points)
There are 5 Sceva first names in WikiTree and 5 LNAB.  Sibs:  Triphena, Arvis, Perrin, Clyna, Ozias, Cassius Clay, Loantha and Gorham.
+22 votes
My two favorites are Flather, and his brother, Starkie Heap, and
Delwig, and his brother, Inkerman Isaac.
answered by Fred Adamson G2G6 Mach 8 (85.2k points)

Inkerman Isaac!!!  That's my new favorite!!! 

A girl named "Ivy Heap"
+21 votes
Walpurgia

I haven't  seen anything stranger.
answered by Sharon Ray G2G6 Mach 1 (11.2k points)
I have seen that name as well.  I think mainly in German relations.
The family she was married into was Germanic but I personally haven't found anything more about her.  I also haven't been focused on her specifically. There is a family group that is researching that branch.

I don't remember seeing it before, though I haven't spent a lot of time on the my Germanic ancestors. I've been focused on researching collateral lines to make sure I haven't missed anything.
Was she born on April 30 or May 1?
Walpurga used to be a quite common Teuton name. A lot of famous persons held that name: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walburga_(Vorname) (sorry, only German).

Among them: Saint Walburga https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Walpurga
At this point all I have been able to do is determine the approximate year of birth 1723.
I followed the link and read up on Saint Walburga. Interesting!  Thanks for the link.
+16 votes

Today I've been scratching my head over some names in a family I've been investigating because they are in the line through which I relate to a newly found DNA cousin.

The oddest name in this family is Benzel -- that's the name on his birth registration. Later records call him George. Unlike most of the unusual names I've seen, this isn't a biblical name and it's not related to a surname in the family's history (Benzel is documented as a German surname, but this child was born to a "Yankee stock" family living in Vermont in the 1860s).

Benzel (George) has a sister who was recorded at birth as Isabel, but went through life as Hattie. (How do you get Hattie from Isabel?)

answered by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (877k points)
One of the oddest first names on my late mother Rosemary Schulte's side was Constant,as in my maternal 2rd Great-Grandfather Constant Cambas(1828-1873).He was a French immigrant from Lorraine,France,who probably came to New Orleans,Louisiana in the 1840,s,friends.
+20 votes

Elvan (the Eleven) as first given  name of three for child #11 in a family, 1916. I think I have seen Tolvan for #12 as well.

Mitola as the first given name of four(!) for an engineer's daughter born in 1858. (Sounds like a technical invention).

answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
During the source-a-thon I found a girl called Tiolina (starts with ten in Swedish), and she was the tenth child of her parents.
Yes, it's not all that uncommon. Just a bit odd. I think I have come across a family where they started counting from the first child, in combination with other names - of course I don't find them again, now that I look. For Elvan and Mitola I could easily go find the sources to serve up, becasuse I know now where in my files they are.

I also have - somewhere - a family where all the boys were christened Bror Something and all the girls Sister Something.

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