Category: Historic Names
Names most familiar as surnames are now prevalent in the Top 100; popular examples include Mason, Parker, Lincoln, and Madison. While the concept certainly isn’t new, surnames as first names are becoming increasingly fashionable, and parents are making more adventurous choices.
While digging through the family tree is one way to find a meaningful surname to use, culturally significant figures could serve as another source for namesakes. Here, I’ve sifted through the surnames names of some of the most famous and beloved writers to find those most wearable as first names. Though several of these names would make very unique choices, they still incorporate the popular sounds found in many other trending surnames. Choosing the surname of a favorite storyteller or poet also provides an opportunity to embed meaning and personal significance into a child’s name.
And though we wrote all the name entries ourselves, we’re constantly re-encountering names that we maybe kinda forgot existed and now appreciate anew. Wow, we think. That’s a cool one. Wonder if it will ever come back?
This just happened to me with the name Cyrilla. The boys’ equivalent Cyril is handsome if a bit effete for the modern world, though it may get rediscovered thanks to the revival of the similar Cyrus and Silas. But what about Cyrilla? That’s a cool old name that’s at once exotic and familiar, highly unusual — there were NO girls named Cyrilla recorded on the most recent Social Security list — yet not invented. Besides being the feminine form of the Latin Cyril, it’s also a botanical name for flowering plant found throughout the tropics.
So I nominate Cyrilla as a name that’s ripe for revival. What are some old names you think might become new again?
Photo of antique doll from Kathy Libraty’s Antiques at Ruby Lane.
By Elisabeth Waugaman
African American naming traditions were dramatically influenced by slavery.
From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries between nine and twelve million Africans were shipped to the New World as slaves. Existing slave ship manifests for the Atlantic slave trade record numbers, gender, approximate age of slaves, and occasionally “nation” (tribal identity). Given names are only registered on slave ships after the beginning of the international abolitionist movement circa 1820.