Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature, and Scottish Saints



Just what you always wanted. It may be old (1880) but isn’t all that dusty, I have to say.

One more instance before we pass on. In two separate wills, dated 1602 and 1604 (folio 25, Montagu, “Prerog. Ct. of Cant.,” and folio 25, Harte, ditto), will be found references to “More-fruite and Faint-not, children of Dudley Fenner, minister of the Word of God” at Marden, in Kent.

Now, this Dudley Fenner was a thoroughly worthy man, but a fanatic of most intolerant type. In 1583 we find him at Cranbrook, in Kent. An account of his sayings and doings was forwarded, says Strype, to Lord Burghley, who himself marked the following passage:—

“Ye shall pray also that God would strike through the sides of all such as go about to take away from the ministers of the Gospel the liberty which is granted them by the Word of God.”

But a curious note occurs alongside this passage in Lord Burghley’s hand:

“Names given in baptism by Dudley Fenner: Joy-againe, From-above, More-fruit, Dust.”—Whitgift, i. p. 247.

Two of these names were given to his own children, as Cranbrook register shows to this day:

“1583, Dec. 22. Baptized More-fruit, son of Mr. Dudley Fenner.”

“1585, June 6. Baptized Faint-not, fil. Mr. Dudley Fenner, concional digniss.”

Soon after this Dudley Fenner again got into trouble through his sturdy spirit of nonconformity. After an imprisonment of twelve months, he fled to Middleborough, in Holland, and died there about 1589.

And this better-known story:


The most celebrated name of this class is Praise-God Barebone. I cannot find his baptismal entry. A collection of verses was compiled by one Fear-God Barbon, of Daventry (Harleian M.S. 7332). This cannot have been his father, as we have evidence that the leatherseller was born about 1596, and, allowing his parent to be anything over twenty, the date would be too early for exhortatory names like Fear-God. We may presume, therefore, he was a brother. Two other brothers are said to have been entitled respectively, “Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world-to-save Barebone,” and “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone.” I say “entitled,” for I doubt whether either received such a long string of words in baptism. Brook, in his “History of the Puritans,” implies they were; Hume says that both were adopted names, and adds, in regard to the latter, that his acquaintance were so wearied with its length, that they styled him by the last word as “Damned Barebone.” The editor of Notes and Queries (March 15, 1862) says that, “as his morals were not of the best,” this abbreviated form “appeared to suit him better than his entire baptismal prefix.” Whether the title was given at the font or adopted, there is no doubt that he was familiarly known as Dr. Damned Barebone. This was more curt than courteous.

Of Praise-God’s history little items have leaked out. He began life as a leatherseller in Fleet Street, and owned a house under the sign of the “Lock and Key,” in the parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-West. He was admitted a freeman of the Leathersellers’ Company, January 20, 1623. He was a Fifth Monarchy man, if a tract printed in 1654, entitled “A Declaration of several of the Churches of Christ, and Godly People, in and about the City of London,” etc., which mentions “the Church which walks with Mr. Barebone,” refers to him. This, however, may be Fear-God Barebone. Praise-God was imprisoned after the Restoration, but after a while released, and died, at the age of eighty or above, in obscurity. His life, which was not without its excitements, was spent in London, and possibly his baptismal entry will be found there.

A word or two about his surname. The elder Disraeli says (“Curiosities of Literature”)—

“There are unfortunate names, which are very injurious to the cause in which they are engaged; for instance, the long Parliament in Cromwell’s time, called by derision the Rump, was headed by one Barebones, a leatherseller.”

Isaac Disraeli has here perpetuated a mistake. Barebone’s Parliament was the Parliament of Barebone, not Barebones. Peck, in his “Desiderata Curiosa,” speaking of a member of the family who died in 1646, styles him Mr. Barborne; while Echard writes the name Barbon, when referring to Dr. Barbon, one of the chief rebuilders of the city of London after the Fire. Between Barebones and Barbon is a wide gap, and Barbon’s Parliament suggests nothing ludicrous whatsoever. Yet (if we set aside the baptismal name) what an amount of ridicule has been cast over this same Parliament on account of a surname which in reality has been made to meet the occasion. No historian has heaped more sarcasm on the “Rump” than Hume, but he never styles the leatherseller as anything but “Barebone.”

But while Praise-God has obtained exceptional notoriety, not so Faint-not, and yet there was a day when Faint-not bade fair to take its place as a regular and recognized name. I should weary the reader did I furnish a full list of instances…

And then there is:






Whatever would we do without Project Gutenberg? 12 November yields:

St. Machar or Mocumma, Bishop, 6th century.

This saint was the son of Fiachna, an Irish chieftain, and was baptised by St. Colman. In his youth he became a disciple of the great St. {163} Columba, and when that saint went to Scotland, Machar accompanied him, together with eleven other disciples. After some years he was made a bishop, and was sent by St. Columba with twelve companions to preach to the pagan Picts of Strathdon, in the northeast of Scotland. It is said that his holy master commanded him to found a church in the spot where he should find a river forming by its windings the shape of a bishop’s pastoral staff. Such a configuration he found in the river Don, at the spot now known as Old Aberdeen. Here he accordingly fixed his seat, and the cathedral that rose from the humble beginnings of a church instituted by Machar now bears his name.

Besides the old Cathedral of Aberdeen, there are in the same county two parishes, formerly joined in one, which are known as New and Old Machar, respectively. At Kildrummie, in Aberdeenshire, is a place called (after the saint) “Macker’s Haugh.” There is St. Machar’s Well, near the cathedral, at Old Aberdeen; the water used always to be taken for baptismal purposes to the cathedral. {164}

At Corgarff, in Strathdon, is another spring known as Tobar Mhachar (the well of St. Machar); miracles were formerly obtained there. Of this spring the legend is related of a priest, in time of famine, drawing from it three fine salmon which lasted him for food till supplies came from other quarters.

St. Machar’s feast was restored to Scotland by Pope Leo XIII. in 1898.


Cathedral Church of St Machar, Aberdeen

Tomorrow is the day of St. Devenick…