An Actual List of Colonial Names
I decided that I really wanted to find a new way to waste my own time, so I used this list of Founders to conduct an extremely unscientific poll. There are 140 men on that list, from all of the thirteen colonies, so at the very least there’s some geographic variety (an important thing to note is that every single one of these names belonged to a white Christian). I then surveyed the names of their wives—if they had multiple wives in their lifetime, I counted all of them, and if I really couldn’t find any record of a wife, I used their mother’s names. There are 171 names on that list. A lot of women went by nicknames, so I’ve noted the nicknames I’m certain were in use next to the names.
The most popular male names are:
- John (22)
- William (14) [including a William Williams]
- Thomas (11)
- Richard (8)
- George (7)
- James (7)
Some of the odder male names are:
The most popular female names are:
- Mary (31) [Polly, Molly]
- Elizabeth (29) [Betsy, Bess, Eliza]
- Ann/Anne (21) [Nancy]
- Sarah (14) [Sally]
- Catherine (5) [Kitty]
- Hannah (5)
Some of the odder female names are:
- Huldah [apparently it means “weasel" or “mole”]
It’s pretty notable that the women here are far more likely to bear one of the more popular names (a lot of the guys married multiple Elizabeths). In fact, though 31 more women were included in my count, men still had 51 unique names to their 44.
61.4% of the women bore one of the 6 most popular names, while only 49.2% of the men could say the same.
The names I haven’t mentioned are below the cut, along with the number of bearers, just in case you wanted a better sense of what kind of names people had around the time of the Revolutionary War.