Virtue Names

The prompt for 52 Ancestors this week is Thankful. Of course this week is Thanksgiving in the United States. There is a lot of things to be thankful for: family, friends, a place to sleep, food, technological advances that allow for genealogy to be done from the comfort of my home, among other blessings.

First ThanksgivingBut it’s funny, those weren’t the first thing I thought of when I read the topic. I immediately thought of how some Puritan* ancestors used virtue names, words that are similar in idea to Thanksgiving, like Mercy, Grace, Verity, Charity, and Amity. In the same moment I thought of my 6th great-grandmother, Deliverance Coward.

Deliverance was born 24 November 1737 in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey. She was the 7th of 12 children born to Reverend John Coward and Alice Britton. (Reverend Coward was a descendant of puritans that accompanied Roger Williams to Providence, RI.) The sister born just after Deliverance was called Patience, but none of the other siblings had virtue names. Patience was also the name of John Coward’s grandmother and Deliverance was the name of John’s great-grandmother. It seems that these names were passed on in honor of family members rather than an adherence to using virtue names.

Not much is known about Deliverance other than who she married, gave birth to, and when and where she died. She married James Randolph on 15 March 1760 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. They would have at least seven children, including my 5th great-grandmother Hannah Randolph, who would later marry William Longstreet. James served in the American Revolution with the patriots. He was a private with the New Jersey troops and Morgan’s riflemen. He died outside of New York City on the British prison ship The Provost sometime before December 1781, when his will was proved. Deliverance died a few years later on 13 February 1787 in Monmouth, New Jersey.


*I may have also thought of this connection because I’ve been working on some Irish Quaker ancestors and a while ago, after watching the TV show Endeavor, and wondering about Inspector Morse’s first name, read somewhere that Quakers also used virtue names. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but it isn’t the case with my ancestors.

2 thoughts on “Virtue Names

  1. Jamie Gates says:

    Aren’t those the coolest names? I love finding them in my family tree–some of my favorites are Helped, Hopestill, Pleasant, Waitstill and Content. Mercy and Patience are fantastic, too. (I’d never choose these for myself, though!)

    Liked by 1 person

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