By Haley Sedgwick
I’ve always loved reading classic books. By the time I was twelve, I’d read a few Shakespearean plays, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Shakespeare was great of course; however, Jane Austen gave me even more. With her novels, I got the charming, delightful gentlemen I’d always dreamt of (and still do dream of!), the romance, the passion, and, a new range and style of names. After reading Pride & Prejudice (and falling in love with the thought of finding my own Mr. Darcy), I fell in love with the Georgian style of naming.
A time of great elegance, the Georgian era – named for the four British King Georges who ruled over it — lasted over 115 years, from 1714 to 1830. Along with Eliza Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Georgian era often conjures images of powdered wigs and stately architecture. Many of the buildings and styles of the Georgian era are still extant today – including the Georgian taste in names.
Following is a list of my favorite names from the period, drawn from literature and from my research on Georgian naming . At the end of the post, you’ll find the resources that were useful in putting it together.
Priscilla – My number one favorite from this era, Priscilla has an upper class image without being completely over the top. One of the many names of the Georgian era that are still commonly used today, last year Priscilla ranked in the U.S. top 500.
Henrietta – With Henry having been a favorite of mine since I was little, Henrietta seemed like an obvious choice for me. Having a slightly more historic and royal feel than Harriet, Henrietta still shares a meaning and the nickname Hattie with Harriet, making it a nice alternative if Harriet is deemed unusable.
Jane – As a lover of Jane Austen, this name was automatically added to my list. Jane is classic, timeless, elegant, and down-to-earth, all at the same time. For me, Jane is perhaps the most beautiful classic name, right up with Charlotte, Eleanor and Amelia.
Christiana – Christiana is a lovely, frillier take on the equally wonderful Christina. Christiana is a character in the movie Nanny McPhee, who goes by the nickname Chrissie. A more unpredictable nickname I like for Christiana is Tiana.
Lavinia – My favourite Shakespearean name, Lavinia is sweet, frilly, and, underused. Sharing the nickname Livvy with the ever so popular Olivia, Lavinia is a more unfamiliar, yet still classic choice.
Augusta – Once a royal favorite, Augusta deserves a good dusting off, in my opinion. Regal and elegant, Augusta has the charm of Sophia, but remains underused, having been off the U.S. Top 1000 for close to 70 years.
Alethea – An attractive ‘secret’ virtue name, Alethea means truth, making it a nice substitution for someone wanting a virtue name, such as Verity, but one that’s less ‘wordy’ at the same time. Alethea also has common nicknames, such as Allie or Lea.
Georgiana – Ah, the delightful Georgiana! Growing up, Georgia was a favourite of mine, which then morphed into Georgina, which then reminded me too much of the wicked Regina George, which finally brought me to Georgiana. Frilly, elegant, classy, Georgiana is definitely high up on my favorites list.
Martha – Martha’s long been a favorite of mine, possibly due to the nickname Maisie. Martha may be too Martha Stewart-ish for some, but, if, like me, you love the classic, strong, feminine feel that it carries, Martha can be much more than the name of a lifestyle guru.
For anyone interested in learning more about names of this period, I’ve found some great references, and, also, Apollonia of the Nameberry forums, has provided me with some amazing links.
http://www.reg-ency.com/re_logform.php (log in: JWaugh, password: Research)
What are your favourite Georgian names for girls?
Haley, better known as LawsonHaley on the Nameberry forums, is an 18-year-old name nerd and history lover from Canada. She has been researching names since the age of 9, when she decided her baby doll needed the perfect name.