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Kinfolks Family History and Genealogy Services

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks - 2018

What's in a Name?

Posted on February 10, 2018 at 8:05 PM

Week 6 - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Name

What's in a Name?

 By Nicole Hicks

Well, in my opinion our name is everything! Over the course of our lifetime, it becomes the thing that identifies you and sets you part from other people. For Week 6 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge a “Favorite Name” is the theme.  Some names are handed down the generations from father to son and in some cases from mother to daughter. There are several unique names in my family tree, but I couldn't really call anyone of them my favorite. As I looked at them I realized I didn't know nor do I have the resources to find out what their origins were. But as I comb my family tree which lists more than 6,200 names, I did discover that there are some names that are way more popular than others. So, for this blog I'm going to write about the most popular names in my family tree.  I selected one male and one female.  Let's start with the masculine name, James. There are 142 males with the first name of James in my tree. James is a Biblical name and appears to have been handed down throughout the generations on both side of my family.


Meaning, Origins, and History of James



GENDER:                             Masculine

ORIGINS:                            Hebrew

USAGE:                                English, Biblical

PRONOUNCED:                 JAYMZ (English)

VARIANT:                            Jaymes (English)

DIMINUTIVES:                  Jamey, Jay, Jem, Jemmy, Jim, Jimi, Jimmie, Jimmy, Jae (English)

FEMININE FORMS:          Jacklyn, Jaclyn, Jacqueline, Jacquelyn, Jaqueline, Jaye (English)


English form of the late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya'aqov (JACOB). This was the name of two apostles in the New Testament. The first was Saint James the Greater, the apostle John's brother, who was beheaded under Herod Agrippa in the Book of Acts. The second was James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus. Another James (known as James the Just) is also mentioned in the Bible as being the brother of Jesus.


Since the 13th century this name has been used in England, though it became more common in Scotland where it was borne by several kings. In the 17th century the Scottish king James VI inherited the English throne, becoming the first ruler of all Britain, and the name grew much more popular. Famous bearers include the English explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the Scottish inventor James Watt (1736-1819), and the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (1882-1941). This name has also been borne by six American presidents. A notable fictional bearer is the British spy James Bond, created by author Ian Fleming.


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I don’t have any direct ancestors with the given name James, but so many of my family members with the name “James” are colorful characters to say the least.


Naturally the most popular female name on my family tree is Mary. There are 81 females with the given name Mary, which is also a name from the Bible.


Meaning, Origins, and History of Mary


GENDER:                           Feminine

USAGE:                              English, Biblical

PRONOUNCED:               MER-ee (English), MAR-ee (English)


VARIANTS:                      Maralyn, Maria, Marie, Marilyn, Marilynn, Marlyn, Marylyn, Merilyn, Maree, Merrilyn (English)


DIMINUTIVES:                Mae, Mamie, Marianne, Mariel, Marinda, Marion, May, Mayme, Mollie, Molly, Pollie, Polly (English)


 Usual English form of Maria, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Μαριαμ (Mariam) and Μαρια (Maria) - the spellings are interchangeable - which were from Hebrew מִרְיָם (Miryam), a name borne by the sister of Moses in the Old Testament. The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However, it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love".

This is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the mother of Jesus. According to the gospels, Jesus was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit while she remained a virgin. This name was also borne by Mary Magdalene, a woman cured of demons by Jesus. She became one of his followers and later witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection. Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use. In England it has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. The Latinized form Maria is also used in English as well as in several other languages.


This name has been borne by two queens of England, as well as a Queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots. Another notable bearer was Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the author of 'Frankenstein'. A famous fictional character by this name is Mary Poppins from the children's books by P. L. Travers, first published in 1934.


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I only have one direct ancestor with the given name Mary. She was my paternal 3rd great grandmother, Mary Hicks.  According to her death certificate, Mary was born in Jul 1829 in Virginia. She died on 23 Jun 1918 in Barnwell, Barnwell County, SC. When she was about 25, she married my paternal 3rd great grandfather, Joe Hicks around 1855 in Barnwell County, SC.


I have not located Grandma Mary and Granddad Joe in any Census before 1900. Mary lived in Georges Creek, Barnwell County, SC (now known as Denmark in Bamberg County, SC) in 1900 with her son Govan and his family. Govan was my 2nd great grandfather. In the 1900 census, Grandma Mary indicated that she had given birth to 5 children and only two were living.  That would have been my Granddaddy Govan and his younger brother Hampton. I still have not learned who her other 3 children may have been. She was buried on 24 Jun 1918 in Brown Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery in Barnwell, Barnwell County, SC.


I think that in the “ole days”, names meant something to parents. I once read that families had naming patterns. For example, the 1st born son was usually a junior, named after his father. The 2nd born son was named after his mother’s father. The 3rd born son was named after the father’s father or an older brother of either parent or after another male relative that the family respected. For the daughters, the naming patterns were similar.  The 1st born daughter was sometimes name after one of her parent’s mothers. The 2nd born daughter might be named after the mother or one of her parent’s sisters.  Learning about naming patterns has been a useful tool for me as a genealogist in identifying family member not listed together in vital records.


Today, people want to name their children something unique versus maintaining old fashioned family names.  While there is nothing really wrong with that, children’s names today have no real meaning or definition that can be attach to something noble like a biblical figure or an ancestor. They seem to have usual spellings that are difficult to announce and receive a great deal of scrutiny and are regularly stereotyped, especially among the Black community. So, what’s in a name? I say, everything, but I still appreciate are family traditions and names that are simple, but significant.


 #52ancestors #kinfolksfamilyhistory #knowyourhistory #herstory #mystory


Categories: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challlenge

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