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My younger daughter is named Margaret for her grandmother, my husband’s mother. We call her Maggie. Her name means “pearl,” and there is a version of the name in almost any European culture you can think of. Right off the top of my head, I can name the French Marguerite, the Italian Margherita, the Spanish Margarita, the Welsh Marared, and the Scottish Marjorie. It is an old name, too, and may even have its origin in Sanskrit. At one time, it was a very popular name: It was the second most popular girls’ name in the early 1900’s. It is less common today, but if you look at the name’s statistics in Wolfram-Alpha, you notice it enjoyed a tiny uptick in popularity in the years prior to my daughter’s birth (around the time of the new millennium), which could explain why my daughter has encountered at least two other Maggies at school when we were sure she would likely be the only one.

What my husband and I didn’t realize when we gave our daughter this name was that it would connect her to a family tradition that dates back at least 300 years, possibly longer. The name is a thread that has run through my husband’s family since at least the early eighteenth century. After I learned this information, my daughter’s name became even more meaningful to me, and I am so glad we chose it.

My husband’s mother, the Margaret we named our daughter for, was likely named for her mother, Margaret Emma Ledbetter (1916-1995). Margaret Emma Ledbetter was the daughter of Clarence Ledbetter (1868-1935) and Rosanna Belle Beasley (1881-1946). The family was from Hickman County, Tennessee. Rosanna Beasley’s paternal grandmother was Margaret Etta Pugh Beasley (1827-1898). Here is a picture of her with her husband, Littleberry Beasley (1817-1895):

Littleberry Beasley and Margaret Etta Pugh

I also found a photograph of her headstone:

Margaret Pugh Beasley

She is buried in Lyles, Hickman County, Tennessee. Her mother was Prudence Jane Nicks (1794-1887). Prudence was born in Guilford County, North Carolina and died in Hickman County, Tennessee. Her paternal grandmother, Margaret Doaks Nicks (1752-1798) is likely the inspiration for her daughter’s name, but Margaret Doaks Nicks’s mother-in-law was Margaret Edwards Nicks (1717-ca. 1756). She is the earliest Margaret I can find, but I have a hunch that if I could trace the line further back, I would find more Margarets. I like the idea of passing this name along. I hope that we will have more Margarets in the family, but this name has (unfortunately) fallen in popularity, and it may be that our Margaret and any descendants she might have might not feel as strongly about passing it on as I might wish.

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One Response to “Margaret: The Story of a Name”

  1. Jim Sanders says:

    I have quite a number of Margaret’s on my family as well. My sister was Margaret, a couple great aunts and a number of direct ancestors. Mary was often used as the middle name. I’ve also found a couple Mary Margaret’s as well. Sometimes it’s a tongue twister keeping my Mary’s and Margaret’s seperated.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

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