Surprising Names Straight from the Mayflower

Nov 19th 2018

on the list
It turns out the Mayflower passengers inspire us in more than their persevering spirit and incredible vision. Embarking in 1620, parents from Delfshaven, Holland and London, England sailed the Atlantic at great risk in order to establish a New World. While many of them liked traditional names such as William and Mary, there are plenty of surprises among the baby names chosen by these first colonists.

Photo: Getty Images


What the Pilgrims intended for a moral lesson, we now think of as nostalgic and sweet. Unfortunately, this name is so far out-of-the-box that it’s not likely to be used anytime soon.

The parents of a little Damaris running around the Mayflower likely chose her name due to its single mention in the New Testament. It’s still just as unique today as it was back then.

This stern-sounding virtue name falls in line with what we’d expect from the Pilgrims. They were definitely expressing their values without concern for the burden the child might bear along with her name. Today, we’re much more likely to name our daughter Heavenly than Humility.

Poor Priscilla just can’t shake its “prissy” image. Before that happened, though, Priscilla was a biblical choice dripping with femininity and proudly sitting with the popular girls around the bonfire.

In the 1600s this name was only beginning to gain steam. For some of us Dorothy will always be wearing ruby slippers, but we think it’s due for a comeback. After all, Dot and Dottie are adorable nicknames!

This sweet virtue name doesn’t feel vintage enough, due to its popularity in the 50’s. The pilgrims, and many before them, used Constance to evoke a steady, strong image balanced by the feminine nickname Connie.


Pilgrims were more creative than we usually give them credit for. Oceanus is a surprising, lyrical name to give a son born on the Atlantic seas during an epic voyage.

Grit and determination definitely come through in the name Resolved. This is a virtue name that’s unheard of today and was likely quite unusual in the 1600s too.

Truelove "Love"
Most of us wouldn’t consider Love for a boy, but that wasn’t always the case. We tend to see this as a cuddly, romantic choice, but Puritans may have had another idea. Love for freedom, country, and faith were likely the thoughts behind Truelove’s given name.

This saintly name meaning “foreigner” was another good fit for a Pilgrim’s son. This one is completely out of the norm in America today, but it has potential.

Giles is the perfect name for a British librarian (Hi, Buffy fans!) as well as a little boy living in Puritan times.

Perhaps the most shocking on the roster of Mayflower passengers, Wrestling was the son of a theologian and English teacher (source). This one was probably a creative virtue name based on the idea of wrestling with authorities and sin.

If you were embarking on a sea voyage, what would you name your children? What names would you recommend to the Mayflower parents if you could?


November 19, 2018 4:47 PM

I could imagine Peregrine making a comeback today, if someone is looking for a compromise between a softer-sounding name and Falcon.

November 19, 2018 6:46 PM

I'm not very knowledgeable about theology, but I suspect Wrestling might be a reference to Jacob wrestling with the angel/Jacob wrestling with God?

November 23, 2018 12:47 PM

In regards to Peregrine: Lord of the Rings lends it both geek cred and the nickname 'Pippin'.

Also: I believe Love and Wrestling were brothers. They're in my family history.

November 27, 2018 12:03 PM

Oceanus will never be used today - any name ending with "...anus" would be asking for trouble, don't you think?

December 10, 2018 12:00 AM

I love the name Oceanus, as I have a character named Oceanus McCullock. He's pretty cool.

March 21, 2019 3:07 AM

I would name my daughter "Khaleesi"