Historical Names: Names of the Signers of th Texas Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence day! Texas Independence Day, that is! Today Texas is 180 years old! The Republic of Texas declared its independence from Mexico on March 2nd, 1836. After winning its war for independence, Texas remained an independent nation until joining the United States in 1845. Like the American Declaration of Independence, many men signed the document (59 in Texas's case) and I'd like to discuss some of their names with you. These names would be great choices for loyal Texas and Texas history buffs!

This is by no means a comprehensive list but you can find that here. I chose to focus on a few select first names for this list but I might do an article focusing on middle and last names later because there were some interesting ones. Most of the signers had pretty typical names, so I just chose a few that really jumped out at me.

Augustine is an intriguing variant of Augustus and both are substantial names with a great amount of history. The most famous bearer of the name is probably St. Augustine of Hippo. Although August was #242 in 2014 and Augustus was #544, Augustine was only #949. 

Junius is a very interesting name. It's found in some versions of the Bible while other versions translate the name as Junia. It's also unclear whether or not Junius/Junia is male or female. Junius is not currently in the top 1000 and although I think it has it's appeal (the nickname Junie is cute), I don't see it making a comeback anytime soon. Junius Mottley was a phyician elected to represent the town of Goliad at this convention and was only 24 years old when he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Sadly, he was one of only nine Texans that died at the final battle in the war for independence: the battle of San Jacinto.

Sterling is a name with a unique sound that came in at #508 in 2014. Sterling is rising fast and it doesn't surprise me that more parents are taking notice. The phrase "sterling silver" might come to mind when you hear this name. Sterling is an English word meaning "of the highest quality." Sterling Robertson was an empresario, soldier, and politician.

Lorenzo is a very distinguished name with a lot of spunk. In 2014 it was ranked #277 and it's risen fairly significantly in recent years. Lorenzo de Zavala was referred to by one reporter as "the most interesting man in Texas". Even just reading an abbreviated version of his biography, I can tell that's probably true! He was influential in the Mexican revolution and in Mexican politics before helping to bring about the Texas revolution. He even served as the first vice president of the Republic of Texas! You can read another account of his life here.

Asa is a charming and cool biblical name. In Hebrew, Asa means "phyician" or "healer". Asa is also a Japanese name that means "morning". In 2014, Asa ranked #522. Asa Brigham served as both treasurer for the Republic of Texas and Mayor of Austin in his lifetime.

Jesse is an important biblical name, the father of King David. In 2014, Jesse ranked #174. Jesse Badgett was a soldier in the Texas army who was at the Alamo before leaving for the Washington Convention. He wrote an account of the convention and the Alamo that appeared in the April 12th, 1836 Arkansas Gazette. Jesse Grimes went on to be a senator and a congressman. His 18 year old son died at the Alamo.

Collin originated as a dininutive of Nicholas but has been pretty popular in its own right for a long time. Collin with two l's ranked #223 in 2014 and Colin with one l ranked #140. Collin McKinney was one of the members of the committee that helped draft the Texas Declaration of Independence. At 70 years old, he was the oldest delegate of the Washington Convention.

Clairborne is a very rare name. I really couldn't find any information on it. It's super interesting but I really don't see it catching on. Clairborne West went on to become a postmaster and a congressman.

These next two names are very interesting to me! There were two men named after Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the American Declaration of Independence, signing the Texas Declaration of Independence 60 years later. It seems that naming children after presidents was a popular thing back then. It's really not something we do much anymore. For example, only 69 little boys were named Barack in 2009, the year after he was elected. Only 11 little Baracks were born in 2014. Thomas Jefferson Gazley was born in 1801, the year Thomas Jefferson took office. Thomas Jefferson Rusk was also born during Thomas Jefferson's presidency in 1803.  Thomas Jefferson Gazley was a physician who went on to become a congressman. Thomas Jefferson Rusk was a lawyer who became Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas as well as a congressman and Supreme Court Justice. He became a senator after Texas joined the United States. 

I think discovering the two George Washingtons and the two Thomas Jeffersons was my favorite thing about this list. George Washington Barnett was born in 1793, during Washington's presidency. Smyth was born later in 1803. Barnett was a physician who became a soldier and then a congressman. Smyth was an important surveyor for many of Texas's colonies and then held several politcal offices. An interesting thing about these two men who were named for revolutionary and president George Washington, is that the place where they signed the Texas Declaration of Independence is called Washington. It was later referred to as Washington-on-the-Brazos (Brazos being a nearby river). It's in Washington County Texas and this convention is known as the Washington Convention. Washington-on-the-Brazos was at one time the capital city of Texas.

. Washington-on-the Brazos  is now a state historic site. It's one of my very favorite places to go! It includes the Star of the Republic Museum,a living history farm, and Independence Hall. The building where the delegates signed the declaration is no longer standing but a replica has been built in it's place. On it an inscription reads "Here a nation was born".

Is there a name from your state or country's history that you'd consider using? Let me know in the comments!

God bless and thanks for reading!

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  1. One of the early Australian explorers was Matthew Flinders... I love the name Matthew, and it's a nod to my uncle as well. Another early explorer was William Lawson. While William isn't really my cup of tea, I don't mind Lawson! :)

    1. Those are some great names! I really like Lawson!

  2. Such an interesting article with name origins and history. Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday!


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