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Curiosities of the Puritan Nomenclature

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Curiosities of the Puritan Nomenclature. Charles W. Bardsley. (1880) 2006. This pioneering study surveys the development of English given names from the Conquest to the nineteenth century, with emphasis on the innovations introduced by Puritans in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The text is liberally supported by hundreds of examples from parish registers.Bardsley begins with the Conquest, noting the prevalence of Anglo-Saxon names, and then the introduction of a new set of given names from the Continent. He discusses pet names and nicknames as well.The core of the book challenges the then prevailing opinion that unusual Puritan names dated from the Commonwealth period. The author shows that the increase in the use of Old Testament names came with the rise of the Puritan movement during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Bardsley argues that the movement was begun by Puritan ministers in the naming of their own children, and that the widespread availability of the Geneva Bible and the associated rise in literacy were crucial in the spread of this usage of given names.An important section of the book looks at the narrower but important category of names expressing desired Puritan qualities, names such as Suretrust and Faintnot. Names of this sort also had their origins in Elizabethan times.Bardsley includes an examination of the role played by these names among New England families, and makes use of New England sources as well.

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