Category: Family Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
On previous Presidents’ Days, we’ve looked at the first and last names of the Chief Executives, their wives and their children’s appellations. So what’s left?
Their middle names! And in this era of middle-name mania, we think they merit our attention.
Many of the early people in this position did not have middle names, having come to the office before the practice became so prevalent. A significant number bore their mothers’ maiden names; a few others switched the first and middle and so became know by the name listed below. One—Gerald Ford—changed his name completely.
So, if you don’t like any of the Presidents’ first or second name, here’s an alternative option.
In honor of President’s Day, I did some research on the popularity of U.S. Presidents’ names. Not their first names (sorry… no Chester, Grover or Barack in this article), but their last names. Here is a list of the ones currently ranked, whether or not the name is up or down from 2011, when it peaked, and information to show the possible correlation between peak of name and presidential term. Ranks are listed for boys unless otherwise stated. Keep in mind that SSA rankings began in 1880.
We can see him, a bit like Gilbert on Leave it to Beaver, a child version of Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. White blonde, serious, outdoorsy. A rock hound and butterfly lover. A reader. A bit stolid, a little shuffly. My dream child, but then why not? Why envision anything less?
Owen was actually conceived though when I was younger than ten, when I began to read and reread (and reread ) the Anne of Green Gables books. Owen the wonderful writer who comes to marry Leslie, the tragic heroine. The name was shining and I fell in love.
In fact, it was so shining that I locked it away for my child-bearing time and for the next couple of decades contemplated only female names, of which I accumulated hundreds. I had named my male and it was time to name my daughters.At 27, when I had figured I would already have a child but didn’t, I did finally overcome family anxieties and learned to drive.
I named my first vehicle (a white Toyota truck I adored) Owen, fully expecting to be driving my same-named baby around in my truck before long. Years later, I found the list of people I had called as soon as I got my truck; it read like who I would have called if I had had a child. The name not only meant writer to me, it meant freedom.
My husband and I have six kids. If naming babies were an Olympic sport, I’m pretty sure I’d medal. Not necessarily in quality or creativity but in experience.
When we had our first daughter in 2001, choosing her name literally took 5 minutes. My husband suggested Juliet. I loved it immediately but suggested the longer French version, Juliette, because I thought it made a better balance with our short, somewhat masculine-feeling last name. He agreed.
Her middle name was chosen before I was ever even knocked up. In 1998, I was visiting Ireland when a bomb blast in the Northern Ireland city of Omagh claimed the lives of 29 people. One of those souls was that of a little girl named Maura. I made a silent and personal vow to use that name if I were ever to have a baby girl. Also, Maura is the Irish form of Mary and we are Catholic, so it was especially precious to me. We never looked back or second guessed our choice of Juliette Maura.
Middle names are, in many ways, the place where you can get most adventurous with your choices.
Or are they?
What, in your opinion, is the best kind of middle name to choose?
A creative name that you might love but that you wouldn’t dare put in first place?
A name with important symbolism — the city where your child was conceived, the name of a personal hero?
Or maybe you see the middle name as the ideal place to represent family: to use the baby’s father’s first name, for instance, or pass down grandma’s maiden name or honor a family member who is recently deceased.
Or the middle name to you might be an opportunity to create flow and melody in a name, and so you look for a middle name with the perfect combination of syllables and sounds.