AQUILA (m) (Latin 'eagle'). In Christian iconography the eagle is the symbol of the Gospel of St. John. A man named Aquila was associated with St. Paul; a later Aquila (fl. early half 2nd century A.D.) translated the Hebrew Bible into a very literal Greek. Both men are said to have been natives of Pontus [in Asia Minor], the latter prob. a native of Sinope in that region (Henry Wace and William C. Piercy, A Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies [London: John Murray, 1911, repr. Peabody, Mass.: Henderson Publishers, 1994], pp. 38–39).
Aquila Chase (1618–1670) was an early settler of Hampton, N.H. (1640) and Newbury, Massachusetts (1646). John Carroll Chase and George Walter Chamberlain, Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aquila and Thomas Chase (Derry, N.H., 1928, rev. ed. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1983, 1993), note that the exact parentage of the immigrant Aquila Chase and his brother Thomas seem to be still unknown; although several earlier English Aquila Chases have been identified in Chesham, Bucks, and in London, no positive matches have been found for the immigrant. The other seventeenth-century immigrant to New England bearing this rare given name was Aquila Purchase of Kingweston, Somerset, and Dorchester, Mass., brother-in-law of Bernard Capen of Dorchester in Old and New England. Both Chase and Purchase were likely named for Aquila, husband of Priscilla, mentioned by St. Paul.
The 1790 census lists 21 men named Aquila, with occurrences from Vermont to South Carolina, with the largest number in Maryland. In 1850, there were 111 men with the name, and, in 1940, there were 77.