What’s in a name 2: Paramour or Paramore?

We’re back on the spelling theme here at Halley’s Log, and today we’re considering the name of Halley’s ship: is it Paramour or Paramore?

As usual in the seventeenth century, there are a number of variant spellings. Besides Paramour and Paramore, I’ve seen Parramour, Parrimour, Paramor and Parramore – but the official name of the ship can be easily settled because the Admiralty’s order that names her is extant in the National Archives at Kew:


Admiralty order to name the Pink (© National Archives (£), ADM 2/174 p 189)

You having acquainted Me that the New Pink Ordd. to be built at Deptfd for Colonel Middleton* may be Launched this Spring; We do hereby desire & direct you to cause her to be Launched accordingly and that she be Named the Paramour & Entd. on the List of the Royll. Navy by the same Name.

So it’s Paramour! Why, then, am I using the default spelling Paramore?

Well, the reason is that the logs of Halley’s three voyages each begin with a heading that states the basic details of the voyage – ship’s name, commander, year – and in all three the ship is named as “Paramore”.  The third log, which is in Halley’s hand, also has a title page on which Halley has written “Paramore Pinks Journal” – and so the ship is named four times in the logs and each time she is spelt Paramore.

Paramore is the spelling adopted by Professor Norman Thrower in his definitive version of the logs (1981), and also by Halley’s principal biographer, Alan Cook (1998), along with other recent writers on Halley, such as Lisa Jardine (1999) and John Gribbin (2005).

As my project is to tweet the logs of Halley’s voyages, I decided that I too should use the spelling that appears in the logs – hence my standard spelling is Paramore.

Halley generally seems to have favoured this spelling. In his letters to the Admiralty (ADM 1/1871), he writes the name of the ship nine times, five times he spells it Paramour and four times, Paramore – and while that’s not a majority, compared with usage in other Admiralty documents, where I’d guesstimate that Paramour is used about 90% of the time, Paramore about 8% and other spellings about 2%, Halley’s use of Paramore is notably high.

Even so, I do find myself asking if I’m right to use Paramore as my standard spelling. When I began, it seemed entirely sensible to use the spelling that appears in the logs, but as the number of Admiralty documents I’ve read has increased – where the ship’s name is overwhelmingly Paramour – I’ve become more uncertain about that decision and also more curious as to why French-speaking Halley favoured that spelling.

Did I make the right decision? What do you think?

* Colonel Middleton will be explained in a future post.

UPDATE: Since writing this post I’ve read another batch of Halley’s letters to the Admiralty and his usage in those was Paramore 8, Paramour 0 – so a clear majority for Paramore.


3 thoughts on “What’s in a name 2: Paramour or Paramore?

  1. Kate,
    I wonder if Halley didn’t like Paramour due to its meaning. Perhaps he disagreed with what it stood for, so therefore he refused to use it. Did he use the other spelling at all?

    • Chris, if there’s one thing Halley wasn’t, it’s a prig – I don’t believe any such thought would have entered his head. As was typical in the seventeenth century, he used several different spellings (including Paramour), but Paramore predominated. Ship names weren’t painted on sterns at that time, but I did wonder if it may have been painted perhaps in his cabin and spelt Paramore; I haven’t checked whether that’s likely yet, but it would explain why he favoured the spelling.
      As to your other queries: I mention here that the choice of a pink seemed surprising as they were built for shallow, coastal waters, and I’ve just now added my suggestion to the post that a pink was chosen as it offered proportionally greater storage space. The log entries for the Newfoundland period were tweeted from Halley’s account (@HalleysLog), but I don’t know how far back tweets remain viewable. If you can’t see them, you can of course buy or borrow Norman Thrower’s printed version – details on my Sources page. Kate

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