In the process of writing the first book in my middle grade adventure series, I had to find a name for a ship. People are difficult enough to name, but a ship? I’ve never named one before, so this proved an interesting process.
The book involves my characters Mike Triplett, Tommy Cooper and Elijah Capelli going back in time to 1714 where they find themselves on board a ship bound from England to the American colonies. It was important to me to find a name for the ship that was both meaningful to my story and historically plausible.
I started my journey of discovery by researching the names of real historical ships and I found names fell into two basic categories. First, ships were named for a person. Usually, this would be a saint, a monarch, or a significant benefactor who contributed to the ship’s mission. The second category would be to choose a term that gave meaning to the ship’s purpose, words such as blessing, discovery and fortune.
There was also a third option, one that combined the two together to form a name. This is the direction I chose for my ship. I decided a monarch would be the easiest choice, so I set about learning who reigned in England during the time frame in which I planned to set my story, which was the late colonial period of the Americas. There were a number of monarchs, James, George, William and Mary. But I found myself drawn to one queen in particular, Queen Anne, who held the throne from 1702-1714.
I chose Anne for a couple of reasons. One, I have a personal connection to the name, as it is also my own name. The second reason for choosing Anne was that in reading more about her history, her tragic life seemed uniquely suited to where I hoped to go with my story. Anne lost her grandmother, a maternal aunt and her mother at a young age. She became queen following the death of her sister and brother-in-law. Furthermore, though she experienced more than fifteen pregnancies, she had no surviving children, Prince William, her only child to survive infancy, died of smallpox at the age of eleven. Death, it seems surrounded her, almost, you might say, like a curse.
So, Queen Anne was to be the royal behind the ship I was building. Next, I set out to find the right word to pair with her name to become the identity of my ship. I looked at the other words chosen to name ships: Fortune, Blessing, Discovery, Bonaventure, Assurance. These are words that speak clearly of the ship’s mission and purpose. My ship was to be one bearing passengers from England to a new life in a new world. This was to be a venture, a dangerous, but potentially profitable undertaking. And there it was, Venture.
According to dictionary.com, venture means:
1. an undertaking involving uncertainty as to the outcome, especially a risky or dangerous one
2. a business enterprise or speculation in which something is risked in the hope of profit; a commercial or other speculation
It was the perfect fit. And so my ship became the Anne Venture, apparently cursed to suffer many deaths.
My three boys – Mike, Tommy and Elijah – will find themselves in the middle of the Atlantic, unable to return home until they can find a way to break the Curse of the Anne Venture.
Photo/Art credit: Isaac S., age 9