What name might you have chosen for your daughter in Elizabethan Times? Were there any regional preferences? This we wouldn’t be able to find out without a very large countrywide survey.
However, we do have some statistics for the Hawkesbury area from wills dating between 1544 and 1600. By far the most popular name was JOAN in all its variant spellings (Joan, Jone, Johanne, Johan), closely followed by ALICE (Alyce, Alec, Alce, Alse).
As well as the ‘expected’ names (e.g.Elizabeth) there were some which wouldn’t be out of place in the middle class home of today: Helen, Eleanor, Denise and Isabel were all surprisingly common.
Spare a thought for the scribe though when he found out he would be expected to write the name ‘Denise’, that one really did stretch his ability: Deanes, Dynese, Denys, Deenes, Denyce, Dyonyse. Now test yourself on this one: Jewlyanne (clue – it’s not a girl’s name)!