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A Girl Named Ellis

unisex names

On a recent trip through the South, I met two young sisters charmingly named Mason and Ellis.  Surname-names for girls are characteristic of the traditional South, where family last names have long been passed down as firsts to girls as well as boys.

Little girls might well have a conventional first name like Mary or Elizabeth, but their full name is Mary Ellis (say) and they’re known as Ellis.  The Mary or the Elizabeth might be mom and/or grandmother’s name; it’s the Ellis part that makes the name distinct.

Of course, surname-names are used for girls in many places beyond the American South these days, though not everyone likes the practice.  Boys’ names should be left to the boys, some feel, and girls’ names should be decidedly feminine, and unisex names are all-around unappealing.

Well, we don’t feel that way.  We think surname-names, ala the Southern custom, can be elegant and original on a girl and can impart a sense of gravity and tradition.  And yes, some of these names, like Bradley, are also male first names.

Some choices we think work well include:

Bradley

Brooks

Carter

Chandler

Drury

Ellis

Ellison

Gibson

Hayden

Keagan

Landon

Lowell

Mason

Miller

Murray

Norris

O’Brien

Oakley

Parker

Randolph

Sawyer

Stuart

Walker

Winston

Which names like this have you heard?  Which work, in your opinion, and which don’t?

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