Pompey, nickname for Portsmouth

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Dec 11 21:24:01 UTC 2006

> Pompey may have been a common slave name in the US.
In NY, at least, it seems to have been a fashion to give one's slaves
a name from classical literature or history.  Presumably these names
also might become family tradition, and given to children of free
parents, on occasion.

***  The busy note of preparation had been heard for a week.  The suds
began drizzling from here and there a window -- the face of the buxom
housewife began to grow long and sour -- the sweeps croaked their
inharmonious and deafening notes with unusual gusto -- and unless one
kept a good look-out ahead, the Pompeys and Phillises at the turn of
every corner would give him an opportunity to sweep his kerseymeres
against the ponderous brush, or stumble over a bucket of white-wash!
Commercial Advertiser, May 3, 1825, p. 2, col. 3

THE MISERIES OF MAY DAY.  [a long dialog between a sensible
and long suffering husband and a fashion driven wife, who has insisted
on moving; Philis, Chloe, Sambo, Caesar, Mark Antony are named as
temporary help and whitewashers]
Commercial Advertiser, May 2, 1827, p. 2, cols. 1 2

[a card signed Pompey, Caesar, Cato, & Co., in mock AAVE,
rejecting bobilition]
Evening Star, August 27, 1835, p. 2, col. 4


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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