First names have both history and context and George Redmonds has produced a much needed new study of them. This is NOT a "what does my first name mean" type of book. Redmonds has produced a social history of first names in England that has solid statistical backing. His major new contribution is his use of the poll tax returns of 1300s to establish a statistical base from which to compare changes in name popularity and patterns over time. He compares his data to that of other researchers to investigate the common questions about first name patterns. Did saints' names loose their popularity as a result of the Reformation? Redmonds has an interesting answer you might not expect. What role did the godparents play in the naming of children? What naming fads swept England and what were their sources? This book puts holes in many previous works on name popularity that previously relied on their authors' perceptions without statistical support. One of the best things about this book is that the author actually defines exactly what he means when describing a name as "popular" or "common". The book's particular strength is in the north of England - the author's home turf. The book is replete with copious examples in support of the author's conclusions.
The chapters include:
o A Transitional Period
o Tom, Dick and Harry
o The Popularity of Christian Names
o Parents and Godparents
o Names from the Twelfth Century
o Names from Abroad
o Names of the Saints
o Names from Legend and Literature
o Names from Surnames
o After the Reformation
o Changing Customs
An excellent addition to the genealogist's or social historian's tool kit, this book promotes the understanding of first naming patterns which continue to evolve to this day.