Friday, September 23, 2011
From the Dustbin: Vashti
A surprising number of women in colonial New England were named Vashti. The first time I saw this name in the archives, I did a double-take because it looked so out of place among all of the Abigails and Hannahs.
Turns out, Vashti was a Persian Queen in the Book of Esther. Puritans New Englanders were big Bible fans, and, frankly, there aren't really all that many girls' names in the Bible, so anyone who didn't want to use a very common name had to dip into the often-surprising B-side. To them, the Biblical connection mattered more than the sound. Evidence: several colonial New England women were named Hazzelelponi.
Vashti was actually a pretty good role model. She defied her husband, King Ahasuerus, when he wanted her to act immodestly, and was executed for her transgression. I assume the Puritans would have approved of her standing up for her beliefs and modesty, not the disobeying her husband bit. Some people argue that Vashti was actually arrogant, and therefore no heroine, but the New Englanders seem to have approved of her.
In 2010, 29 American girls were named Vashti. I think it has the potential to be bigger than that. This could be a great choice for someone who is looking for a name with both Christian significance and a South Asian sound.
From the Dustbin features names that have been used in America in the past, but are not currently in the SSA Top 1,000.