Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

With a new grandchild on the way, I was inspired by “What’s in a Name?: Frequency Analysis of Ancestral Given Names in My Family Tree” by Polish family researcher Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz on her blog From Shepherds and Shoemakers to analyze the first names in both my daughter’s and her husband’s family.

The new baby will have a mix of European heritages and nationalities. While my family history is Polish, both from the German and the Russian partitions, my daughters also have a mix of English (both Yankee and Canadian), and Irish from their father’s side. As far as I can tell, their ancestors fought on both sides in the American Revolutionary War, on the Union side in the Civil War, and were either Catholic or Protestant to an alarming degree of green and orange.  My son-in-law’s identified ancestors are French-Canadian, English-Canadian, and Swedish, and not so contentiously Catholic and Protestant.

Many of the oldest names were found years ago from old published genealogies, and they have not been properly sourced. With that caveat, the names of identified ancestors are listed below.

Mary and John and their variations were most popular through the ages. They, like the other top ten names, were found in trees of various ethnicity. For example, Małgorzata in Polish and Marguerite in French are analogues of the English name Margaret.

The names Jadwiga, Kazimierz, Stanisław, Stanisława, and Wojciech are clearly Polish in origin. Mikołaj is the Polish version of Nicholas. Adelard, Basile, Célina, Cyrille, Hercule, and Nasaire are French, and Bengt and Sigfrid are Swedish.

Thankful, Mercy, Patience, Plain, and Prudence were all first names from New England in Colonial times. Baptist minister William Wickenden was in Providence in 1640 and was a close friend of Roger Williams. His second daughter Plain married Samuel Wilkinson. The last names of their descendants and their spouses read like a glossary of Rhode Island street names: Angell, Arnold, Chapman, Comstock, Hopkins, Rogers, Rounds, Slater, Thayer, Waterman, Wickenden, and Williams, but that’s a blog topic for another day.

Here are their known ancestral first names:

Marianna/Mary/Marya/Maryanna 28
Jan/John 27
William 15
Elizabeth 12
Thomas/Tomasz 11
Alce/Alcy/Alice 9
Catherine/Katarzyna/Katherine 9
Ann/Anna/Anne 8
Joseph/Józef 8
Małgorzata/Margaret/Marguerite 8
Sarah 7
James 6
Martha 5
Susanna/Susannah 5
Agnes/Agnieszka 3
Benjamin/Bengt* 3
Daniel 3
Eleanor/Eleonor 3
George 3
Joanna/Johanna/Johannah 3
Maurice 3
Phebe/Phoebe 3
Reuben 3
Wincenty 3
Amos 2
Basil/Basile 2
Caleb 2
Charles 2
Clement 2
David 2
Edmond/Edmund 2
Emily 2
Esther 2
Franciszka 2
Henry 2
Jeremiah 2
Kacper 2
Louis 2
Lucian/Łukasz 2
Mathilde/Matilda 2
Obadiah/Obediah 2
Rebecca 2
Regina 2
Samuel 2
Simeon 2
Stephen 2
Sylvanus 2
Walentin/Walenty 2
Zachariah 2
Abigail 1
Adelaide 1
Adelard 1
Andrzej 1
Annis 1
Antoni 1
Célina 1
Chad 1
Christian 1
Christopher 1
Coles 1
Constant 1
Cyrille 1
Della 1
Douglas 1
Ebenezer 1
Elethea 1
Emeline 1
Enoch 1
Ephrem 1
Flora 1
Florian 1
Forrest 1
Frank 1
Fredora 1
Gertruda 1
Hannah 1
Hercule 1
Jadwiga 1
Jane 1
Jarvis 1
Jemima 1
Joan 1
Kazimierz 1
Lawrance 1
Leah 1
Leslie 1
Lina 1
Lucyna 1
Mae 1
Mahala 1
Marcin 1
Mercy 1
Michał 1
Mikołaj 1
Mildred 1
Nancy 1
Nasaire 1
Neilan 1
Ozina 1
Patience 1
Patrick 1
Peleg 1
Philip 1
Pierre 1
Plain 1
Prudence 1
Quentin 1
Ralph 1
Rhoda 1
Richard 1
Robert 1
Robietta 1
Rubina 1
Ruth 1
Sandra 1
Shubael 1
Sigfrid 1
Smith 1
Sophie 1
Stanisław 1
Stanisława 1
Teresa 1
Tertullus 1
Thaddeus 1
Thankful 1
Virginia 1
Weller 1
Weronika 1
Wojciech 1
Zebedee 1

*Update: While Sigfrid‘s father’s name looked like Benjamin in American records, Swedish records were clear that his name was Bengt, the Swedish form for Benedict. Therefore, his birth record listed Sigfrid‘s name as both Sigfrid Carlström and Sigfrid Bengtsson.

We discovered this after the new baby was born, and given the names Benjamin David! He is, of course, called Ben!

Comments on: "Ancestral First Names: From Abigail to Zebedee" (1)

  1. That’s quite a nice assortment of names you’ve got in your tree! Congratulations on your soon-to-arrive new grandchild — what a blessing!


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