I’m patiently waiting for grandson number three to be born. My daughter thought he was going to arrive a month or so ago, but Landon had some thoughts of his own. I’d have to say he’s as stubborn as his grandpap and will make his grand entrance only when he’s good and ready.
My bride and I have eight and eight-ninths grandchildren – six girls and two and eight-ninths boys. Come to think of it, we have another daughter who is due in late February or early March of next year. That baby is another girl. If my math is anywhere close to accurate, that means we have an additional five and a half ninths of a girl.
In summary, five of our children have presented us with two and eight-ninths grandsons and six and five and a half ninths granddaughters. Let’s just call it ten grandchildren and keep things simple.
The girls’ names are Rachel, Alexis, Margaret, Ellie, Emma, Ariana, and a girl to be named later. The boys are named Tyler, Dominic, and Landon.
Not once was I asked for my input to help name any of these children. I can only wonder why this oversight occurred. I’ve done a great deal of research into my family tree and could have made any number of excellent recommendations.
To begin with, I would have advised them to not name any of the girls after me. That would’ve clearly demonstrated my sincerity in the matter. Next I would’ve told them to avoid whatever names are currently popular. Obviously my parents did not take that into consideration when they hung the name James on me. When I was growing up, at least a fourth of the boys at school were named Jim. The rest were named Bob, John, Joe, Gary, or Bill. The girls were all Carol, Betty, Susan, Mary, Bonnie, and Jane. There were a few exceptions to this lineup, but they were very rare.
That’s exactly my point. To stand out in a group, one should have a name that is different from the run-of-the-mill names. In my lifetime I’ve known one Rufus, one Roxanne, and one Matilda. I long ago lost count of the girls named Judy, Joan, Cathy, Barbara, and Peggy. The same can be said for the guys named Jeff, Ed, Mike, George, and Ron.
Before I get to my list of unique names, let me briefly discuss the variations people use in an attempt to hide the fact that they were less than creative when they named their children.
Peggy is one of many variations for the formalized Margaret. I’ve never been able to figure out how Peggy derives from Margaret, but it has a long history to support its use. More commonly, a Margaret is known as Marge or Maggie. James is easily converted to Jim, Jimmy (or Jimmie), Jamey, Jay, or, as my son has demonstrated, simply “J”.
Robert becomes Bob, Bobby, Rob, Robby, or Bob-boo (that’s the nickname we hung on a guy who lived next door to me when we were growing up. His brother Billy was called Bibby. Don’t ask. I have no idea why we called them by those names.)
Rufus is a name that would be difficult to alter. Miles would also be difficult to adulterate, but it’s not as unusual; I know two people with that name. If one truly wanted to find a name that would stand out in a crowd, one could simply pick up the Holy Bible and start reading.
The other option would be to dig up the family’s roots. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’ve found quite a few unique names.
A very popular naming convention of the past was to name a child using the surname of a grandparent. Thus, my family tree includes names such as Steelman, Somers, Rogers, Parkinson, Elwell, Burdette, Revell, Pemberton, Townsend, Curwin, Gorham, and Lafayette.
There are also a sprinkling of men named Franklin – perhaps in honor of Benjamin Franklin – but that’s a name that can be quickly reduced to Frank and lose its unique qualities. The same holds true for Jackson.
Another practice was to use a common English word such as Submittance, Constant, Mercy, Minor, Salmon, Creed, Dutch, Patience, and Prudence.
Finally, with my ancestors being Quakers, there is an abundance of Biblical Names. Japheth, Isaac, Jeremiah, Israel, Jedidiah, Zachary, Reuben, Timothy, Job, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Ruth, Naomi, Sarah, Casper, Jacob, Amos, Daniel, Jesse, and Peter are just a few of the more common names.
But some of my ancestors elected to be less common and gave their children names like Ruhamah, Barzilla, Bethannah, Jemima, Johari, Armenia, Beulah, Marmaduke, Asenath, and Leander.
My list includes at least three hundred more unique first names, and if all else fails we can find a surname that has yet to be used as a first name. Perhaps I can get my daughter and her husband to change the name before Landon is born.
TOO LATE!! Landon David was born around dawn the morning of December 1, 2006. Maybe my next grandchild can be named Pemberton Elijah or Vigilance Naomi. Of course, I’m assuming the parents of my grandchild will take the time to consult me.
This article was written in 2006. Since that time, we’ve added two more grandchildren. Anna Grayce Knight was born on February 24, 2007 and Daniel Alexander Leeds was born on January 24, 2008. While none of the parents of these two children asked for my advice – even though I’d written this article and I’m sure they read it – I thought the names they selected were very nice.
As a matter of fact, Daniel Alexander is named after one of our more famous ancestors. Daniel Leeds, who was born in England in 1651 and came to America around 1677, was the author of one of the first almanacs published in the colonies. He’d become a Quaker while still in England and came over with a group of Quakers. However, he had a falling out with the sect and began publishing booklets denouncing the religion. The Quakers fought back with publications of their own. Thus, we know more about Daniel than any of our other ancestors.
Perhaps I should begin writing pamphlets denouncing cat owners or people who drive Chevy SUVs. Then they can strike back and I won’t have to write my autobiography! Wait! I just remembered; I’d be attacking members of my own family. I’ll have to find another group to denounce.
In the meantime, I’m hopeful that my newest grandson will soon begin pecking away at a computer keyboard and live up to his name.