Genealogy Humor: Unusual & Funny Names of People (Part III)

Introduction: In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak searches old newspapers to find more curious or amusing names our ancestors once used. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background.

When I get bored, I sometimes look to old newspapers. There’s plenty of amusement to be found in their pages, and one activity I particularly like is looking up funny names. Some of you may be familiar with my earlier funny names articles, such as: Genealogy Humor: Unusual & Funny Names of People.

It’s been quite a while since my last humor article – but in the meantime, I have found many more funny names in newspapers to share with you. Not sure if every example is real, but they sure are amusing.

Wait-a-While Makepeace

Let’s start with a real example. Who among us genealogists has not run across the Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England by James Savage? First published in 1860, this book shows three generations of those settlers who came before May 1692.

This review, published when Savage’s book first came out, notes a number of curious names – including Wait-a-While, daughter of Thomas Makepeace.

An article about curious and amusing names, Boston Daily Advertiser newspaper article 25 July 1860
Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 July 1860, page 2

Bow and Arrow

In 1824, when a Mr. Arrow married a Miss Bow, it was noted that Cupid’s bow and arrow was never more properly joined! I tried to locate their given names but was unsuccessful – so if any readers discover them, please let me know in the comments section.

Also, there’s this: talk about overcoming pre-marriage jitters! A Mr. Fearing married a woman whose first name was Submit.

An article about curious and amusing names, Daily National Journal newspaper article 24 November 1824
Daily National Journal (Washington, D.C.), 24 November 1824, page 2

Fishy Undertones

Another wedding notice without given names follows. If you were named Mr. Bass, of course you would hook up with Miss Bait. Or maybe not!

An article about curious and amusing names, Lynchburg Press newspaper article 9 July 1810
Lynchburg Press (Lynchburg, Virginia), 9 July 1810, page 4

A Dead Match

When Miss Coffin married Mr. Grave, this newspaper article noted it was a “dead match” despite being very much alive!

An article about curious and amusing names, Constitutional Telegraph newspaper article 4 November 1801
Constitutional Telegraph (Boston, Massachusetts), 4 November 1801, page 4

Native Americans

Some Native Americans are given very descriptive and curious names. Some of my favorites from this newspaper article are:

  • Big Wind
  • Birds All Over the Ground
  • Bob-Tail Crow
  • Crazy Sister-in-Law
  • Hears Something Everywhere
  • Showing Teeth
  • Snout Mouth
An article about curious and amusing names, Jersey Journal newspaper article 1 April 1891
Jersey Journal (Jersey City, New Jersey), 1 April 1891, page 2

Curious Names of the 17th Century

For those saddled with odd names that they don’t care for, think about the wry humor of parents who construct names that are truly curious.

Such was the case in 17th century England, according to this newspaper article. A few of the hilarious names are:

  • Called Lower
  • Faint-Not Hewit
  • God-Reward Smart
  • Kill-Sin Pimple
  • Make-Peace Heaton
  • Meek Brewer
  • More-Fruit Flower
  • Weep-Not Billings

And then there were the three Barebone brothers:

  • Praise-God Barebone
  • Christ-Came-into-the-World-to-Save Barebone
  • If-Christ-Had-Not-Died-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone
An article about curious and amusing names, New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette newspaper article 26 April 1830
New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord, New Hampshire), 26 April 1830, page 1

The 18th Century Name Competition of Long Island & Connecticut?

I am going to leave you with some very, very, very long names. When you read this, you’ll think there was a kind of naming contest: Who could come up with the longest name for their child?

  • Through-Much-Tribulation-We-Enter-into-the-Kingdom of Heaven Crabb (nicknamed Tibby Crabb)
  • Jonathan Hubbard Lubbard Lamberd Hunk Dan Dank Peter Jacobus Lackany Christian Beman
  • Queen Caroline Sarah Rogers Ruhamah Christian Beman
  • Charity Freelove Ruth Grace Mercy Truth Faith-and-Hope-and-Peace-Pursue-I’ll-Have-No-More-to-Do-for-That-Will-Go-Clear-thro’ Christian Beman
An article about curious and amusing names, Rock River Democrat newspaper article 9 April 1861
Rock River Democrat (Rockford, Illinois), 9 April 1861, page 1

Ha ha! Some people struggle with too many Smiths or other common names– so take heart if your family wasn’t saddled with any of the above monikers!

Please leave me a comment if you’ve found any funny name examples in your ancestry!

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