Names of twins in a 16th C French register from Canterbury

One of the most fun things about baptismal registers is getting to see the patterns of names that parents choose for multiple children — both singleton kids over a period of years, and multiples in the sense of twins (I’m not sure I’ve ever come across any baptisms of triplets or higher; unsurprisingly). We’re currently working through a 16th C register from the Walloon Church at Canterbury, containing births, marriages, and burials, and have found two examples of twins in the data, one female and one male. In both cases, the twins are given names which are clearly associated with each other/related to each other. On February 19, 1582/3, Rachel and Lea were baptised, and on September 26, 1594, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac was the father of Jacob in the Old Testament, and Jacob’s two wives were sisters, Rachel and Leah — thus, a clear connection between the two names chosen to give to the twins. (Though it would have been even neater if Jacob’s twin had been named Esau instead of Isaac, to directly mirror the Biblical story!)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Names of twins in a 16th C French register from Canterbury

  1. I always say to my daughters that if I’d known I’d have three girls I’d have called them Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel because that’s in something we sing in church. In fact the middle one *is* called Rebecca, but the third is her twin so it was a good choice not to call her Rachel — twins with the same initial would be awkward!

  2. I looked at a moderately large set of twins in a Welsh baptismal register of the 16th century and was amused to find a statistically significant number of male twins included a Thomas. So much for saying that people didn’t name a kid Thomas just because he was a twin,

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