Female Names in the Upper New River Valley of North Carolina, 1700's to about 1850
A Very Brief History of Names in England and America
Naming Conventions and Spelling in the Upper New River Valley
Short List of Names

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TABITHA - New Testament; a Christian woman of Joppa (Acts 9:36-41).  Her name means "female gazelle" in Aramaic.  (Aramaic was the dominant language used in the Middle East around the time of Christ).  Nicknames: Bitha, Bithy.  See also Bithiah.

TACEY - from the Latin word tace, meaning "be silent."  Tace, Tacey, and Tacye were fairly common female names among the Quakers.  This wasn't a sexist command for women to keep quiet (actually the Quakers were quite egalitarian for their time); rather, it reflects the Quaker doctrine that the divine inner voice can be heard through silent contemplation.  Examples of the name "Tace" can be found as early as the 1600's in England and Wales.  "Tacey" should not be confused with the unrelated name "Tracy," which was not used as a female name until the 20th century.

- Old Testament. "Tamar" is the name of 3 different women in the Bible: a daughter of David (2 Samuel 13); a daughter of David's son Absalom (2 Samuel 14); and the sister-in-law whom Onan refused to marry in Genesis 38.  The name means "palm tree" in Hebrew.

TAMSEY - a variation of the English name "Tamsin," which is a contraction of  Thomasine.  "Tamsin" was not particularly common in England after the Middle Ages, but it hung on in Cornwall, Dorset, and some other places.  The nickname "Tamsey" first appears in the 1770's, mostly in the American South. 

TEMPERANCE - a "virtue name" introduced by the English Puritans. Nickname: Tempy.

TEMPY - a nickname for Temperance.

TENNESSEE - the U.S. state.  Often spelled phonetically, e.g., Tinisie, or elaborated, e.g., Tennesea.

TENNY - a nickname for Tennessee or sometimes Christina.

TENSY - a nickname for Tennessee.

TERESA, TERASY, TERAZA - variations of "Theresa," which is the English form of a Spanish name that became popular in many European countries due to the influence of Teresa of Avila, a 16th- century Spanish saint.  Historically, this was not a common name in England except among Catholics.  Its presence in Appalachia probably reflects the influence of German immigrants.

THENY - a nickname for Parthenia or Bethany.

THEODOCIA - a Puritan name derived from the Greek words "Theo" (God) and "dosis" (giving).   It is equivalent to the names Theodora and Dorothea.  Nicknames: Docia, Docey, Doska.

THURSA, THURSY, THURZA - maybe short for "Theresa" or a variation of the Old Testament name "Tirzah," which means "delight" in Hebrew.  Tirzah was the youngest daughter of Zelophehad (Numbers 26:33).  It was also the name of a town praised by Solomon for its loveliness: "thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners." (Song of Solomon 6:4).  See also Mathursa.

TILDA, TILDY - nicknames for Matilda.

TINISIE - see Tennessee.

TINY - may be short for Tennessee, Christina, Clementine, or or any other name starting with "T" or ending with "-tina."

TRANQUILLA - a name invented by English writer Samuel Johnson for some of his "Rambler" essays (1750-1752).  Nicknames: Quilla, Quella.
UXOR - sometimes mistaken for a first name, "Uxor" is actually a legal term that means "wife" in Latin.  If you see a reference to "Uxor Smith" it simply means "Smith's wife."  Abbreviation: ux.

VERLITIA, VERLISIE - this name, which is apparently a Southern U.S. invention, first appears in the mid-19th century.  It is possibly an elaboration of Felicia or of the Puritan name "Verity."  Nickname: Vertie, Verdie.

- the Latin word for victory.  Victoria was a fairly popular name in Germany but was little known in England until the accession of Queen Victoria (1837), who received it from her German mother, Mary Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg.

VINA, VINEY - a nickname for Lavina or Melvina.

- a flower name that became popular during the 19th century.

-  the colony of Virginia was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, who was unmarried and therefore considered virginal.  "Virginia" has been a popular female name, especially in the American South, since the birth of Virginia Dare in 1587, the first English child born in the New World.  Nicknames: Ginnie, Ginney, Jenny, etc.

VISTA, VESTA - originally, this was a Classical Revival name honoring Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth and home.  Examples of both Vesta and Vista can be found in American records from the early 1700's.  The unrelated name Buena Vista enjoyed a period of popularity in the latter half of the 19th century.
WADY - possibly related to the Puritan name "Waitstill," which was often shortened to "Waity." Might also be related to the Cherokee girl's name "Watie," but this is speculative.

WINIFRED - Old English, composed of the words wynn (joy) and frith (peace).  Or, possibly related to the Welsh name "Gwenfrewi".  Nicknames: Winnie, Winny.
ZEMIRA - Old Testament; a grandson of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 7:8).  The name means "song" in Hebrew.  In the U.S., this name was given to both boys and girls.  Variations: Zamira, Samira, Semira.

ZELDA - originally a nickname for Griselda, but also used as a given name in its own right.

ZERELDA, ZERILDA - this unusual name was fairly popular in the South and Midwest during the 19th century.  It is likely related to the German "Serhilda" or "Serhilde" which is one of several female names with the root -hild meaning "battle".  Variations: Serilda, Serelda.

ZIBBY - may be short for Elizabeth or other names containing a "z."  May also be a variation of the Old Testament name "Zibiah" (2 Kings 12:1), which means "deer" in Hebrew.

ZILLAH - Old Testament; one of the wives of Lamech (Gen 4:19).  Her name means "shadow" or "shade" in Hebrew.  "Zilla" can also be a nickname for Barzilla.

ZILPAH - Old Testament; the mother of Gad and Asher (Gen 30:9-13).  Her name means "a trickling" in Hebrew.

ZIPPORAH - Old Testament; the wife of Moses and mother of Gershom and Eliezer.  (Exodus 2:21, 4:25-26, 18:2-6.)  Her name means "female bird" in Hebrew.

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Copyright 2002 by Rebecca Moon