Family Lessons 78: Uncle Amos

My 11x great-grandfather, John Dilworth, lived in or close to the Lancashire village of Chipping. His first child was born in 1575, so we might assume that his own birth was around 1555, though of that event no record exists. He begins his family with Thomas, then James (my ancestor), Anne, Issabell, John and then Amos in 1584. Did you spot the difference? The first five names are all standard fare; most people in Chipping would have borne them. Amos, however, is unusual. It is of course a Hebrew name (but so was James': ‘Jacob’), and not terribly common in Elizabethan times, though becoming less unusual in the puritan era. As more people read the Bible, the more it influenced their thought and speech; as more people read the Bible closely and were influenced and affected by its message, the more its names and places found their way into English consciousness. Grandfather John was presumably such a man. Hearing one of the increasing number of puritan parsons under Elizabeth may have persuaded him to name his youngest after the Hebrew prophet rather than another common name, like Henry, Robert or William.

Drawing conclusions from such scant documentary evidence is seldom convincing, but I suspect that the Living God wrought a work of grace in John’s heart which was expressed in his last-born’s Christian name. The true work of God’s grace will always have an outward expression. This will likely be be good works, spiritual intimacy, hatred of sin or even the naming of a child after an old and godly prophet. Whether young Amos lived up to his name or his father’s expectations, only God knows.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Psalm 127:3
And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more. Amos 7:8