What possessed John and Content Thacher to name their 7th child Fear? The first six had the names Abigail, Elizabeth, Content (the smaller), Rebecca, Desire and even Jethro. But Fear? "I fear you are only my 7th of 11 children." Puritans had a habit of naming children after good qualities—perhaps to encourage their offspring to become the embodiment of it—but Fear?
This was a Puritan custom—naming your child after a word or name in the Bible—and being born in Barnstable on Cape Cod, one of the first settlements in the Plymouth Colony, it makes only sense that Fear would have this type of name. It's possible that it was shortened from other forms of the name such as "Fear-Not," "Fear-the-Lord" and "Fear-God" that are found in Puritan history.
A nice thing about Mrs. Goodwin is that we know a little about her (unlike many other women of the time). She was married to John (who is buried in the plot next to her), and she had 7 children (none who were named Fear.) We know she suffered from tumors, because a record of her correspondence with her brother James Thacher, a doctor and medical writer in Massachusetts, is archived at Boston Medical Library.
In memory of
born in Barnstable, Mass.
Feb. 1, 1748,
died Mar. 26, 1829.
A voice of wisdom infinite, of matchless love,
hath call'd the christian mother to her rest in heaven.
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