On a recent trip to a history library, I perused some books containing parish records from 18th-century Virginia. These records are treasure troves of names! Admittedly, most of the names within were pretty familiar and common even today – George, Mary, Thomas, and Elizabeth. There were also some names I’m pretty sure you’d only see in the 17th or 18th century, like Obedience.
A few names especially jumped out at me because they actually seemed rather popular in their parishes. However, there’s little to no information about these names today. They are:
Drury – There were a lot of these. I only got about halfway through the Bristol Parish lists, but I counted nearly ten of them. Also spelled Drurey, this is the only name here that ever appeared in the American top 1000, and only once at that (even so, don’t take it for granted…before 1937 the SSA birth data isn’t even very accurate).
Wilmouth – This name appeared in both parishes under various spellings. Wilmouth was the most common rendering, though Wilmot, Willmouth, and Wilmoth also appeared. Some of these spellings do eventually appear in Social Security birth data in the 1910s and 20s. Again, take that information with a grain of salt.
Sith – Yes, you read that right, and so did I. The records of Overwharton Parish indicate that at least 2 girls were named Sith in the 1740s, and another Sith had a baby in 1749. Additionally, a Sithy was born in 1753. The records from that area aren’t all extant, so it’s possible there were more. What kind of name is Sith? A family name? Maybe it came from a galaxy far, far away? Anyway, this doesn’t even appear in the data once, even after Star Wars.
Unfortunately, I only had the chance to look at the lists for Overwharton and Bristol Parishes. I wonder what other locally-popular names I might find elsewhere?
- Boogher, Wm. F. Old Stafford County, Virginia: Overwharton Parish Register 1720-1760. Baltimore: Clearfield Publishing Co., 2003.
- Chamberlayne, Churchill Gibson, transcriber. Births from the Bristol Parish Register of Henrico, Prince George, and Dinwiddie Counties, Virginia, 1720-1798. Baltimore: Clearfield Publishing Co., 1990.
Correction: One Sith wasn’t born in 1749, but bore a child in that year. That means the others could be named after her, but that still doesn’t answer the question regarding whence the name originates.