Biblical name, meaning ‘father of exaltation’ in Hebrew, borne by one of King David's wives, who had earlier been married to Nabal (1 Samuel 25:3), and by the mother of Absalom's captain Amasa (2 Samuel 1:25). The name first came into general use in Britain in the 16th century, under Puritan influence. It was a common name in literature for a lady's maid, for example in Beaumont and Fletcher's play The Scornful Lady (1616). The biblical Abigail refers to herself as ‘thy servant’ in addressing King David. In Ireland this name has traditionally been used as an Anglicized form of Gobnat, although the reasons for this are not clear. It was popular in the 17th century, especially among Puritans and Nonconformists, and has again enjoyed considerable favour since the 1990s.