Mystery Monday: Josine/Josina

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

16th century England is an interesting place and period when it comes to names. On the one hand, the primary naming pool was shrinking at such a vast rate that by the early part of the next century, fully 1/4 of the men in some data sets were named John. On the other hand, we have discussed before about the rise of Protestant names during the second half of that century, with a wealth of new virtue names and newly introduced Biblical names. But this period was also a period of invention, of newly coined names that are in many cases wholly opaque as to origin — not unlike the late 20th and early 21st centuries in both England and America! Some of these names we may never be able to establish any definitive origin to. Today’s name may be one of them:


In this case we aren’t even sure of the right choice of header. The documented form of the name is Josina, but ordinarily this would indicate the importation of a Latin form into a vernacular context, and that we would expect to find a vernacular form like Josine earlier on. On the assumption that we can find other examples of this name before the end of the 16th C, we’ve taken Josine as our tentative header form. But if this name is a genuine new coinage, it may have been coined directly in the vernacular with the terminal -a. Is it a diminutive of Josia, used by a woman? Is it a form of Joseph? The only way to know would be to find more examples of the name in more contexts. Have you found any examples of this name? Please share!


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

4 responses to “Mystery Monday: Josine/Josina

  1. Was “Jospehine” around at that time? Could it be a diminutive form of Josephine?

  2. Ioanna

    Seems to be a fairly well-known name in the Netherlands, considered a variant of Josephine.

  3. Brian M. Scott

    The entry is Dirick Cooke to Josine Quirke. The names in this parish register are clearly not Latinized, so it’s safe to assume that Josine is the vernacular form. In origin it’s a pet form of Josefa.

    A bit of searching turned up a number of 16th century or earlier instances of Josine in the Low Countries: Josine Scepers 1547, several in Coutumes des pays et comté de Flandre: Coutume du bourg de Bruges, Volume 1, and many more in Frederik Buylaert, Repertorium van de Vlaamse adel (ca. 1350-ca. 1500). There are also three 16th century instances in the Registers of the Wallon or Strangers’ Church in Canterbury, Publications of The Huguenot Society of London, 1891 (4 Jan. 1591/2, and two at 4 Nov. 1599).

    The forname Dirick is an import from the Low Countries, and Ipswich was a major port; possibly both families had connections with the Low Countries.

    As an aside, Old Style dates were in use at this point, and this is the last marriage recorded for 1549, so it may have taken place in January, February, or March of 1550 as we would reckon it.

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