Now: as to the name Charles. How much devotion did it inspire in apparently tolerant Hungerford during the reigns of Charles I
and Charles II? Well, between the accession of Charles I to the throne in 1625 and his execution in January 1649 there are only three children baptised Charles in Hungerford; the first not until
1636; two others followed nearly 10 years later, both in the same climactic year, so desperate for King Charles's supporters, of 1645. After the execution of Charles in January 1649, however, use
of the name increased considerably, as the following list may show.
12 September 1649 - Charles son of Francis and Emm Soper
2 June 1653 - Charles son of Isaac and Abigail Hamlyn
15 October 1654 - Charles son of William and Margaret Shadwell
15 March 1656 - Charles son of Charles and Francis Cannon
12 August 1659 - Charles son of Isaac and Abigail Hamlyn
5 February 1662 - Charles son of Robert
29 May 1662 - Charles son of William and Jane Curtiss
10 August 1662 - Charles son of William and Mary Dyer
8 February 1662/3 - Charles son of John and Ursula Langfield
7 December 1665 - Charles son of John and Mary Morris
6 May 1666 - Charles
son of Charles Noone
11 August 1667 - Charles son of Thomas Ellerton
22 November 1667 - Charles son of Evan Sumpter
4 October 1672 - Charles son of John Polhampton
9 December 1673 - Charles son of Charles Noone
23 March 1683/4 - Charles son of Joseph Mackrell
21 February 1684/5 - Charles son of Charles Hamblin
Of course, the choice of a name might well depend upon other considerations than that of an expression of loyalty or respect for the monarch. At one time religious
devotion, especially when combined with birth on or close to a particular saint's day, could lead parents, Anglican and Catholic, to name children after the saint in question. Later, the Puritans
chose not so much saints as 'saintly' qualities such as Obedience (only for girls, though!). The chosen Christian name, however, more frequently arose from familial considerations.
Traditionally, at least one son in the family might be given the name of the father or the grandfather; even more likely was that a child would be given the name of his or her godparent.
In the instances of boys baptised Charles in Hungerford between 1649 and 1684/5, the baptism in 1656 of Charles, the son of Charles Cannon, followed the death of Charles
Cannon 'the elder' in 1655 and might clearly have seemed to result from a desire to commemorate a recently deceased grandfather. However, on several occasions over the years Cannon père had
fallen foul of parliament's hardline policy with relation to religious Nonconformity, which Charles II opposed, and it is just possible that this might have influenced him.
In another instance, the possibility of a royalist bias in choosing the baptismal name is stronger. Robert and Abigail Kimber, parents of Charles Kimber, baptised on 16
January 1644/5 were Catholics and they appear as 'Papist recusants' in 1662, 1663/4 and 1668. Their names are usually linked with those of the Curr family, the most prominent local Catholic
family, who ruined themselves in their unyielding devotion to the old faith. All such families looked to Charles II as their one great hope of relief. Another family which exemplifies a
determination, for whatever reason, to have the name Charles retained within their family was the Noone family. Thus Charles Noone had a son baptised Charles in 1666; that son dying shortly after
birth, another Charles was baptised in 1673. Once again, it might well be argued that this was a typical example of the preservation of a 'family' name. The same family tradition, however,
does not occur in the baptisms of the two sons of Isaac and Abigail Hamlyn during the period of the Commonwealth; some other influence seems to have prevailed, for when the first Charles, born in
1653, died, a second son born in 1659 was duly named Charles. The name Charles was not a traditional family name, Isaac's father being Anthony Hamlyn.
The Hungerford sample is, of course, too small to be conclusive. Even where the name Charles is used, any politico-religious sympathies of the parents are not easy to
uncover, but are most likely to be found through wills, parish churchwardens' presentments, and the diocesan Act Books. The incident concerning the baptism of the three sons of Jehosophat Kimber,
however, surely suggests that Jacobite sympathies were involved.
When James II
came to the throne, no less than four Hungerford families named their sons James in the first two years of his reign. His subsequent unpopularity, however, resulted in no further boys being baptised James in the parish for 15 years after 1688, when James II fled to France.
It would be an interesting experiment in local and genealogical research if this limited survey of politico-religious influence on the choice of Christian names,
undertaken in the single parish of Hungerford, could be extended to provide a larger field and more definite conclusions.
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