Today’s choice has never made the US Top 1000, but he has an undeniable place in American history.
Thanks to Ashley for suggesting Winslow as Baby Name of the Day.
As a given name, Winslow is rare. He’s right up there with Assumpta and Habbakuk for unusual appellations featured here.
But Winslow was worn by one very notable namesake, and if Jackson can be a Top 100 pick for boys, why not the equally artistic Winslow?
The records give us a handful of men named Homer Winslow. But there’s really only one Winslow Homer, and he’s the nineteenth century American painter known for his landscapes.
Like many names containing the element win – Winthrop, Alvin – Winslow relates to the Old English wine – friend. Winthrop seems like an awfully prissy name to visit on an innocent child. Were it not for Churchill, I might say the same of Winston. But how ’bout Winslow?
Winslow Homer was born in Boston, grew up in Cambridge – when it was still a rural small town, not part of the metropolis – and earned a living as a printmaker and commercial illustrator, as well as an artist-correspondent for Harper’s Weekly during the Civil War. And he painted, working in oil and watercolor, as well as wood engravings and etchings. The self-taught artist never took on students, but his influence can be felt in American landscape painters who followed.
His unusual first name proved difficult to trace. Unlike Dashiell, it wasn’t a maiden name. His parents were Charles Savage and Henrietta Benson Homer. It could be a family name. Both parents had long histories in New England, and Winslows had settled in Plymouth way back in the earliest days. Edward Winslow arrived on the Mayflower.
Of course, the artist probably isn’t a direct descendant of Edward Winslow. Mayflower genealogy has been studied exhaustively, and he’s no where to be found on lists of famous descendants.
But here’s an intriguing link: the Rev. Dr. Hubbard Winslow was, indeed, descended from those Winslows. Rev. Winslow succeeded the famous Lyman Beecher as pastor of Bowdoin Street Church, a church that claimed Henrietta Homer as a member in 1836. That’s the year her son, Winslow, was born.
Count Winslow, then, as both an artistic name and one with deep roots in American history – even if they’re not as obvious as Lincoln or Betsy Ross.
If Winslow isn’t recognized instantly for his backstory, he can be judged on style only. That’s tricky. He falls somewhere between the English butler Alfred, the not-nearly-ready-for-revival Elwin and vibrant, current options like Jackson, Leo and Theo.
I’m still undecided about how it would as a first name. Short form Win has great appeal, but the name begs to be split into a confusing sentence: “win slow” or “wins low.”
If he’s on your family tree, of course, passing down Winslow is always an option. But if you’re just intriguing by the landscape artist, Winslow might wear better in the middle spot.