Here are some more rare and interesting names I have encountered in my research:
Aurilla: Meaning “golden” and sometimes spelled (or misspelled) Orilla. Aurilla Yates (1816-1904) of Quebec and Burlington, Vt. married my relative Albert Fuller.
Drusilla: Via Latin from the Greek drosos meaning “dew.” Drusilla the daughter of Herod Agrippa appears in Acts of the Apostles, and died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E. This name has never been very popular in America, but was favored by descendants of Drusilla (Hicks) Thurber (1771-1857) of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. One relative bearing this name used the nickname Dilly.
Job: Before I began researching, it never occurred to me that anyone would name their child after someone who suffered as many trials as Job, though you do see it once in a while. The only Jobs in our tree are three members of the Peace family in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Lubbert: This masculine name and its feminine form Lubbertje are not uncommon among my Dutch ancestors in New York and New Jersey. It is composed of Germanic roots meaning “bright tribe,” with “bright” suggesting famous or renowned.
Mathurin: A boys’ name after a French saint who died about 300 C.E. Because he was supposed to have been good at driving out demons, people called for St. Mathurin’s help in cases of mental illness. He is also the patron saint of jesters and clowns. Mathurin Chalifour was the father of Paul Chalifour, who had arrived in Quebec by 1647.
Meribah: A girls’ name from a place mentioned twice in Exodus. Meribah Everest was born in 1875 in Clinton County, New York.
Narcissa: A flower name referring to the daffodil family, and probably not used much anymore because of the association with narcissism. I have only seen it among my Cornell relatives.
Novella: I have only seen this Italian girls’ name meaning “new” in 19th century Yorkshire. Since one of the girls with this name was actually named “Clara Novella,” I wonder if the name became popular in England because of acclaimed London-born soprano, Clara Novello (1818-1908).
Persis: A girls’ name meaning “of Persia,” I have only come across this name among the Anglo-Protestants of Quebec.
Quirinus: Quirinus was a god of the Roman state whose name may derive from the Sabine word for spear, and several saints have borne the name. The only Quirinus in our tree is my ancestor Quirinus Bertholf, the father of Dutch Reformed minister Guilliam Bertholf (1656-1726) of Sluis, Zeeland, Netherlands and Hackensack, New Jersey.
Rezinah: This name and its nickname Ziney were popular among my relatives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I had assumed it must be the name of a Biblical woman, but it seems to be from the Latin word for “queen” (regina) as spelled in some versions of the Gospel of Matthew.
Sealed: I assume this name has a Christian theological meaning, perhaps “sealed by the Holy Spirit”. The only one in our tree is Sealed Landers (1752-1777) of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Sirrildia / Rildia: My mother-in-law’s second cousin Rildia Bee O’Bryan was the mother of pianist Van Cliburn, and her mother was named Sirrildia Early McClain. I am not sure of the origin–perhaps creativity?
Sukie / Sukey: A nickname for Susan or Susannah that is not heard much anymore, though many are familiar with the old song that goes “Polly put the kettle on, Sukey take it off again.”
Tavernier: I believe my francophile ancestor John Kipp Vermilyea named his son Tavernier, born in 1836, after a French notable of this name. Possibilities include the politician Jean André Tavernier (1777-1850) or the explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689).
Thankful: One of the more adorable Puritan girls’ names, I have two direct ancestors named Thankful.
Wiley: Originally a Scottish nickname for William, I see this name most often among my mother-in-law’s relatives in the American South.
Zelotes: Referring to Jesus’ apostle, Simon the Zealot. The only one in our tree is my relative Zelotes Lear Fowler (1825-1902) of Quebec.