I’ve long known about the Puritan virtue names that appear occasionally among New Englanders until about the mid-1800s; I mean hell — when one has a Submit as one’s greatx8 grandmother, one does have an incentive to learn where a name like that comes from. While some virtue names like Charity, Chastity, Faith, and Hope are used even today, others have died out.
Puritan virtue names that have died out include Submit and Thankful, but also two that I recently learned about: Silence and Desire. I’m sure the Desire is something like “desire for God’s love” or “desire to be saved.” The first seems more about not expressing and the second about expression, though. I find it especially interesting that, in the context where I learned these names, Silence and Desire were sisters.
Such names have always gotten me thinking, particularly Submit. Verb names, much less imperatives, are pretty rare [although, around these parts, we are familiar with Remember Baker, Green Mountain Boy and cousin of Ethan Allen]. Was having a command as a name considered odd back then? Did Submit and Remember go by nicknames or by the one-word sentences that served as their first names? What did Submit think of having that name?
Submit, Silence, and Desire just beg for me to write a story about them — well, mostly Submit. It would be a modern-day story about a modern person named Submit and her struggles with family, ancestry, expectations of femininity, and irritatingly overdetermined nomenclature. I envision Submit as coming from a long line of women with Puritan virtue names and being particularly pissed that she didn’t get something like Faith or Hope…or, hell, even Chastity, because at least you can shorten that to Chaz. But noooooo, her mom had to name her ironically in some sort of feminist statement [????]. I get the sense that she rattles off her standard greeting — “My name is Submit Delacroix, sierra-uniform-bravo-Mike-India-tango, like the verb” — through gritted teeth every single time, and if someone says anything more than “Oh” or “Okay,” they receive the Death Glare. >:(