10 Surprising Pilgrim Names

The pilgrims on the Mayflower were looking for a new life, and many of them had interesting, and even hopeful, names.

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read

Pilgrim names

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When I was writing the thousands of sentences in my iOS game, Grammar Pop, I wanted to include as many different names as possible, so I looked at old names, new names, spelling bee winner names, lists of popular names in as many countries as I could think of—and one short list I ended up finding was a list of all the American pilgrims’ names. And I was struck by how unusual, symbolic, and hopeful many of the names were.

1. Remember

Remember Allerton was a little girl of about five when the Mayflower set sail. "Remember"…that’s such an interesting name.

2. Humility

Humility Cooper—Humility— was a passenger on the Mayflower who came with her aunt and uncle when she was just 1 year old.

3. Desire

Desire Minter was a young woman who came over on the Mayflower; she was probably younger than 19. Both Desire and Humility later returned to England, which wasn’t common.

4. Degory

Degory Priest was an adult hatter, about 40 years old, who came alone on the Mayflower, planning to bring his family over later. Unfortunately, he died the first winter at Plymouth. About 40 percent of the passengers died that first, hard winter.

5. Oceanus

Oceanus Hopkins was a baby boy born while the Mayflower was at sea, and his name isn’t much of a mystery. He was born at sea, and his name comes from the Latin word for "ocean."

6. Demaris

Demaris Hopkins was Oceanus’ 2-year-old older sister. Historians believe the Demaris who was on the Mayflower died, but then the parents had another daughter and named her Demaris too.

7 & 8. Resolved and Peregrine

Resolved White and Peregrine White were two young brothers on the Mayflower. Resolved was 5 at the time of the voyage, and like Oceanus, Peregrine was born on the ship. He was born while the Mayflower was anchored in Cape Cod Harbor. His name comes from the Latin word for “pilgrim.”

Finally, it’s hard to choose, but I think these are my two favorites.

9 & 10. Wrestling and Love

Wrestling Brewster and Love Brewster were two young brothers from Leiden, Holland, who came over with their parents. (About 40 percent of the pilgrims on the Mayflower were religious separatists who had moved from England to Leiden, hoping to find a better life, but it wasn’t working out. So they decided to make the dangerous journey to America.) 

Wrestling was 6 years old when the Mayflower set sail, and Love was 9. Wrestling likely died, but Love lived long enough to serve in a militia under Myles Standish, marry, and have four children, one of whom he named Wrestling after his brother. The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote “Paul Revere’s Ride” and "The Song of Hiawatha," is one of Love Brewster’s many descendants.

[Note: After this was published, a commenter who said she is a friend of the Brewster's decscendents told me that the names had a religious origin: Love of God and Wrestling with Satan.]

I didn’t use most of these names in Grammar Pop because names like Wrestling and Love would have been confusing in sentences because they’re words and don’t sound like names to us anymore, but I thought it was fascinating that the pilgrims seemed to give their children such symbolic and mostly hopeful names.

Most of this information came from MayflowerHistory.com

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.