Repentance Butter sounds like some sort of terrible spread you’re supposed to put on your Ryvita after indulging too much after Christmas, but is in fact the name of a young lady who started out life as Repentance Jackson Parker in 1887, born to James Parker and Mary Ann Crozier.
This may be cheating, as I usually use names that were given at birth, but there was another Repentance Butter before her, who, in 1757, buried an illegitimate (or baseborn as it says on the record) child named John. Showing that daughters will not always live up to the names given to them by their parents. (That may be a bit unfair, as she was called Repentance not Chastity! Actually Chastity was rarely used by the Puritans.) There are more ‘Repentances’ than you might think throughout the 19th Century, all women, of course *tuts*, although I s’pose it is one of the more feminine so-called Puritan names.
Repentance Parker’s siblings were called John, Mary, Thomas and Eliza, and without going into wild speculation at the possibility of her name reflecting a brief indiscretion on her Mother’s part, the only other connections I could find in the year of her birth is to – Repentance a short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1886. Even if her parents could not read or afford to but reading material (as a Blacksmith it would not have been necessary for her father to read) they still may have heard the word bandied about a bit more at the time. I also found it a tad unusual that ‘Jackson’ – Mary Ann’s mother’s surname, was used for one of the girls rather than the boys, as it’s reasonably masculine as names go.
Repentance dies in 1950, aged 63. As yet I can’t find any children for her and her husband.
I decided to go back a bit just in case she was named for an ancestor in the extended family, and came across her half brother, ‘Cross.’.
Cross is the illegitimate son of Mary Ann and on his marriage certificate of 1904 he doesn’t know his father’s name or profession. I had thought maybe the man’s surname had been Cross but it seems like something he would have known had that been the case, it also seemed strange that if he was the son of James Parker, who Mary Ann marries, he would have stated this also. I suppose really the most obvious reasoning behind his name is that Crosiers are carried by high ranking Catholics, such as Bishops, and are often decorated with the cross. Whether Mary Ann was herself a Catholic isn’t possible to determine!
He is listed in the paper as getting a ‘First’ in the junior section of the “Pupil Teacher’s English Literature class in 1890 – graduating with a second class degree (or whatever they would have called it?) a year later. In 1911 he is listed as a an Elementary school teacher, and has one child with his wife Maude Ada. Cross was born a few years after the 1870 Elementary education act, and so would have had access to what was probably at the time a relatively simple education. Well into the 1890’s, however, there was opposition against educating ‘lower classes’ for fear they would get above themselves and revolt, so for Cross to go from being the illegitimate son of a Blacksmith’s wife to School master is no small achievement, in my opinion!
Here he is:
He ends up leaving a very respectable sum when he dies in 1955 (£40,000 in today’s money), his wife outliving him by 15 years.