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

+26 votes

This question about unusual names was one of our most-visited and answered questions of the past year with 190 answers and 3,266 views!

Patricia Roche said it best:

This thread tops the list of WikiTree must reads, but due to overload of laughter outbursts, groans, and gasps of horror, I must bookmark and consume in small daily doses.”

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who's celebrating with their families this weekend!

in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (324k points)
retagged by Abby Glann
I always wondered if my g-g-grandmother was our Cherokee. Jenny Machine was her maiden name, born in Arkansas. I can't help wondering if she was named after the cotton gin which was a machine that separated the seeds from the cotton commonly called a cotton ginny. I've seen her name spelled Ginny as well.
"Big Thumb" McCranie.
Louisianna Missouri Barber Yates named her daughter Flarzell.   
Flarzell named her daughters Flonnie, Lonnie, and Flossie.
Wow, like that one, Jim!
My mothers, fathers, mothers, father was Anglo Puritan Dubose. So he was my GG Grandfather. he had schizophrenia, and he stabbed a pig in the eye with a fork. he was also drafted in WW1 when he was 19.

Loveday Henwood Grace Fidock, is my direct ancestor (6 generations) 

Loveday who married William Duffy? Which child are you decended from? I'm a descendant of Samuel Silas Dufty
Yep, that’s the one. I’m a descendent of her daughter Eva Ann Dufty.
Eva Annie Dufty who married William John Compton.

Im familiar with your ancestor having added her to WikiTree.

WikiTree has 2 profiles for her so initiated a merge just now.

Duftie-1 (no sources) and Dufty-78 (mine with sources but still need to add in her spouse.

My Uncle has a few Dufty matches to William Dufty on Ancestry. I think i may have one or two but thier matches are private.
I know you wont believe it, but I have a line called (Head).

They named one of their sons. Bigger... ( Bigger Head.)

It's sourced in the Bledsoe Journal

I believe it, David!! There are some really wild ones out there. laugh

99 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer

Not unusual since it pops up in many places but Järnbröst (Iron Breast or Iron Chest) is a bit unusual. It might actually be a double name as there are some named Bröst (Breast or Chest) and Järn (Iron) is not that uncommon.

by Staffan Vilcans G2G3 (3.1k points)
selected by Mary Calder
+17 votes
There are two ladies whose names I like the best who married Skiff men in New England. They are Molly Holley born 1737 and Polly Patchen born about 1771.

Molly Holley married Joseph Skiff and Polly Patchen married their son, Joseph Skiff.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2m points)
+17 votes
In the previous list, I gave the name of my 8 x ggaunt - Beaton DOWNE.

How about this one (my 2nd cousin 3 x removed): Grace Winifred Jessica Jane TWEEDALE.  Nothing too strange about that?  How about the fact that she lived through the era of the flappers, and called herself Trilby Tweedale, describing herself in the 1939 Register as a 'mannequin and film actress'?

In fact, Trilby Tweedale features in just about every Connection/Relationship Finder which connects me to somebody.  She's my 'gateway ancestor' LOL
by Ros Haywood G2G6 Pilot (958k points)
So sad about Beaten...very cool about the Trilby though!
+14 votes
Hi Julie,

I have more than one ancestor with the first name Eliphalet.

I now know its an old Hebrew Biblical name that made an appearance in Colonial New England, but I can't type it without mis-spelling, a rogue 'n' always creeps in near the end. And I can't read it without chuckling aloud. Is that wrong?
by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Mach 7 (72.3k points)
Hmmm ... well, if it's wrong, then we'll be wrong together. ;-)
Me too my 6th Grandfather was named Rev. Eliphalet Wright
+13 votes
I have several ancestors named Philander.
by Bart Triesch G2G6 Pilot (249k points)
Really? That’s so funny.  Do you know the etymology of this name?
+14 votes
Thankful is the name of one of my ancestors and Pocahontas is the real big one. I was told growing up that we had a relationship with her. After searching for hours, days, weeks, months,. I finally found her. She is not a direct ancestor but i am in direct line to her sister cleopatra
by Angie Osborne G2G Crew (900 points)
+16 votes
My husband loves to tease me about the names on my tree: Temperence, True, Experience, Patience, Tempest, Faith, Thankful, Amable, Silence, Charity, Prudence, Grace, Onesiphorus (meaning "bringing profit" or "useful"), and Justus.  I like to think their parents had high hopes for them. And then we found one on his tree: Loy L (loyal). His tree is expanding, so we have Charity and others on there now, but I had to rib him a little on LoyL.

I've gotten used to seeing Hezekiah, Eliphalet, Permelia, Mehitabel, Keziah and Dorcus - names you don't see nowadays.

A few I'm not sure what a few of the parents were thinking: Usual, Ransom, Zabiah, Zilpha, Decline, Coy (a male), Cloud, and Freelove.
by Mindy Silva G2G6 Pilot (380k points)
What?  No Obedience in that collection of virtues?  :)
lol, probably is, I just haven't found her yet ;)  or Chastity...
There's a Loyal in my family too, whose middle name was Adolphus.  He named one son Corrington and another Mindwell and one of his brothers named his son Royal ….
I have Obedience, lol

And Thankful
I found Submit Bird who married Isaac Howe. That would mean she became Submit Howe, more acceptable today. It turns out I was looking at the wrong Isaac Howe.
I have twin brothers Coy Ray and Doy Fay somewhere up the line.
+20 votes
I have an ancestor who's name is Revilo Oliver.  His first name is his last name spelled backwards!

Marietta Oliver
by Marietta Oliver G2G1 (1.6k points)
very creative!
would love to know the reasoning behind his parents' choice!
I came across an Etidorpha Creighton in my family tree.   Wondered about that first name until someone explained she was named for Aphrodite....backwards!
That's funny!
That's cool, or funny! I could of been Leon Noel.
Wow I like that! What made you figure it out, Marietta?
+14 votes
I would have to say I had a laughing fit when I discovered a distant ancestor married someone named "Marmaduke Constable". I thought for sure this would make him easy to trace, but no - apparently Marmaduke Constable was a family name! So many Marmadukes!

I also noted a relative that was French Canadian in heritage that was named "Clothilda", which I found strange since it's a German name. (The Census takers had a horrible time spelling that one.) Also it doesn't really lend itself to good nicknames. "Clot"? "Clotty"?
by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)
We have the same name in Spanish, CLOTILDE.  Usually the nickname is Cloti, and I never thought much of it....  until now! LOL.
+12 votes
Well... one of my ancestors' surnames was recorded as Bleek, but I later found out it was Blech. At least they lived before Mad Magazine got popular.


There's a lot of unusual German surnames on my side as well... such as Bodenschatz, Knackwefel, Schickedanz, Hobbiebrunken, Katterhenry and Paczkowski (I know that last one's more Polish or other Eastern European).
by Thomas Overbeck G2G1 (1.7k points)
My son was taught English at school by a Mr Paczkowski.  I often wondered how English he was and how he felt able to teach a class of English pupils the English language!
+13 votes
One of the dead ends on my mother's side... a great-great-grandfather with the great, great, grand name "Spotswood Dandridge Lowry."

An epic monicker, to be sure.
by Aaron Bittner G2G1 (1.2k points)
that's a mouthful lol...
His parents must have been friends with the Lowrys & Barrett's of James City Co. :)
Wow, you would think that one would be easy to spot!  No pun intended, Aaron!
+18 votes
Hatevil Nutter.  An amazing Puritan name.
by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (123k points)
Nice! I've got Hatevil Leighton, and they liked it so much they passed it down through at least 3 generations.
+14 votes
In my tree there is a Skelton Felton. Also Hazel Clapsaddle.
by Janet Kruse G2G1 (1k points)
wonderful names!  I've always loved Hazel (had a 2nd or 3rd cousin with that name) but Clapsaddle is a real jewel!
I should add Skelton married Felton!
+14 votes
Peter Pickle and Missouri Henrietta Pickle
by Tina Slack G2G6 (7.7k points)
I don't know which is better, to be Peter Pickle of tongue-twister renown, or to be named Missouri!
well, it could have been America Pickle ;)
Or Dillard Pickle!  (probably be Dill Pickle to his friends and enemies)
+11 votes
I've come across a few that I didn't know, for women:  Anamen, Deidamia, Saphronia, Theodosia, Delphena, Maribah, Philura; for men: Loyal, Royal, Melancthon, Pilgrim, Obedecom.
by Bonnie Saunders G2G6 Mach 1 (13.8k points)
I don't think I've seen any of the women's names
I have an ancestor named Theodosia as well. Unusual for sure.
I have an Amanda Theodosia who went by Dosha, she was the twin of William Theodore Gadberry.
+11 votes
My 2x great-grandfather was named Mahershal Hashbaugh McKinstry (1840-1922).  Always wondered the origins of the name and how he became named that in rural Ohio in 1840.  My grandfather was named Charles Mahershal Wilkins but always went by Charles M - never revealing what the M stood for until my mother needed the info for her marriage license.

In the late 1990s, I came across a mention of the name in David Hackett Fischer's Albion Seed book about naming practices.  Mahershalalhashbaz was the longest name in the Bible.  Apparently, Mahershal was given a variation of the name.

I might also mention that Mahershal was married 3x - his third wife, my 2x great grandmother, was Ohio Rosetta Cohee.  She had a sister named Mary Indiana.
by Meghan Dewhurst- Conroy G2G6 Mach 2 (22.9k points)
now that is something!  there's a Missouri above who does justice to your great grandmother and great aunt!
+11 votes
I added a friends tree to WikiTree and his family name on one side is Quiter.  He told me that the poor half of the family pronounced it the way it looks,  While the more affluent side pronounced it Quy-ter with a long vowel i.  I got a kick out of that.

Also have Royed in my tree (first name) and an Adlebert (middle name).  I wish I kept a list of error report/suggestions where it questioned me on spelling of a name.  I've had some doozies.

And while not added to the system, my grandfathers nickname as a child was Algernon Sidney Susan Pluckerface.  Apparently the name of a mischievous character in some childrens  book at the turn of the last century.
by L J Russell G2G6 Pilot (161k points)
Oh my word! How fun to have those stories though...

My oldest daughter was Jennifer Marie Magpie... for obvious reasons lol. Shortened to Magpie by grandpa.
My nickname has always been the initials of my first and middle names, Lee James.  Well, my older sisters discovered the name for green pond scum was algae.  So, it morphed into L.G..  Which then morphed into Algernon.  When I was not bad enough to have my full name used to let me know I had crossed that invisible boundary, Algernon was used to let me know I was quickly approaching it.  LOL
+10 votes
I found a Halpehaed Hoverd on the 1871 census who was the brother of my GG grandmother. It was clearly written but turned out his name was Alfred Hoverd, so not so unusual after all.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (218k points)
+12 votes
That would probably be Youkle, who was my uncle. I was told he was named after the man that lived next door to my grandparents. I've never seen another Youkle in all my researching.

I also have a great grandmother named De Sea and a great- great grandmother named Araminta. Araminta had a sister named Bashannon, another name I've never seen another of.
by Lori Zukerman G2G6 Mach 2 (29.9k points)
+11 votes

One of my 6th great grandfathers was called Dionysios. Unfortunately we can't find any clue about where he was from at all.

by Maria Lundholm G2G6 Mach 6 (62.6k points)
His surname sounds like he came from Germany. Big place :-/
Dionysios would be a Greek name.   But as D. was also the name of a Greek God, it could have been adapted by a wide range of European parents.
It was once popular to use classical Greek and Roman names. Indicated "good breeding" and intelligence.

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