According to Genesis in the Old Testament Adam was created from the earth by God (there is a word play on Hebrew אֲדָמָה ('adamah) meaning "earth"). He and Eve were supposedly the first humans, living happily in the Garden of Eden until they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result they were expelled from Eden to the lands to the east, where they gave birth the second generation, including Cain, Abel and Seth.
As an English Christian name, Adam has been common since the Middle Ages, and it received a boost after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790).
The name has been used by kings of Scotland, Poland and Yugoslavia, emperors of Russia, and eight popes. Other notable bearers include English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor of the telephone.
The name became regularly used in the Christian world due to the fame of Saint Anthony the Great, a 4th-century Egyptian hermit who founded Christian monasticism. Its popularity was reinforced in the Middle Ages by the 13th-century Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Portugal. It has been commonly (but incorrectly) associated with Greek ἄνθος (anthos) meaning "flower", which resulted in the addition of the h to this spelling in the 17th century.
As an English name it can also derive from the month of August, which was named for the Roman emperor Augustus.
As an English name, Barnabas came into occasional use after the 12th century. It is now rare, though the variant Barnaby is still moderately common in Britain.
Famous bearers of the name include the English poet Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), the German-Czech philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), the first person to climb Mount Everest.
This is one of the few Old English names to be used throughout Europe (in various spellings). A famous bearer was the British composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934). It was also used by author Charlotte Brontë for the character Edward Rochester, the main love interest of the title character in her novel Jane Eyre (1847).
Due to its favourable meaning, this name was popular among early Christians, being borne by many early saints and four popes. It has been used in England since the Middle Ages, though it has been more popular in continental Europe. A notable bearer was the German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
Due to the renown of the saint, this name became widespread in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. However, it was not regularly used in Britain until the 16th century. Famous bearers include Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), a missionary to East Asia, the philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and the explorer and admiral Sir Francis Drake (1540-1595).
In the English-speaking world this name is occasionally used for girls, as a variant of the homophone Frances.
The Normans brought the name to England in the 11th century but it quickly died out. It was reintroduced by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century. A famous bearer was Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), an American ex-slave who became a leading advocate of abolition.
As an English Christian name, Isaac was occasionally used during the Middle Ages, though it was more common among Jews. It became more widespread after the Protestant Reformation. Famous bearers include the physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and the science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992).
In the Middle Ages this name was common in England, partly because of a second saint by this name, a 7th-century archbishop of Canterbury. Likewise it has been common in Ireland due to the 12th-century Saint Laurence O'Toole (whose real name was Lorcán). Since the 19th century the spelling Lawrence has been more common, especially in America. A famous bearer was the British actor Laurence Olivier (1907-1989).
This name was known among the Normans due to the Welsh bishop Saint Samson, who founded monasteries in Brittany and Normandy in the 6th century. In his case, the name may have been a translation of his true Celtic name. As an English name, Samson was common during the Middle Ages, having been introduced by the Normans.
This name was also borne by a powerful 10th-century ruler of Bulgaria who expanded the empire to its greatest extent.