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Belle, Liv, Zo

Washington State berry Katy is a mother to three girls with meaningful names and spirited nicknames, a tradition she’d like to continue with her fourth child.  Can this berry find a name that fits her criteria and her sibset? Here is what she says:

“My husband Colin and I are expecting baby #4! We have 3 daughters, 6 year-old twins Isobel Rose & Liv Michaela, and a 3 year-old Zoie Grace. Isobel‘s name means pledged to God, Zoie and Liv‘s names mean life.

We don’t know the gender of the baby yet, but we’ve been searching for a name that has a meaning similar to Isobel‘s. We want to stay consistent. So far we’ve come up with Jack, Matthias, & Theodore (our favorite) for a little boy and for a little girl we found Elliot (our favorite), Libby, & Thea.

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abby-zaia

 This week, Abby Sandel, of Appellation Mountain, gathers interesting but not outré names from sources ranging from the Old Testament to Cirque de Soleil.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and with it comes year-end lists.  Are Isabella and Jacob top of the tops, or does that distinction belong to Sophia and AidenHow about Liam and Charlotte?

It is an interesting debate, but for parents seeking inspiration, it isn’t necessarily helpful.  Often we read lists of the most popular names as a collection of those to avoid, lest our little Charlotte complain that she’s one of three in her kindergarten.

And yet, few of us are daring enough to consider a completely unique name.  Yes, celebrities are embracing Bear and Spike and Bing, but they’re rather bold choices outside ofHollywood.

Surely there’s middle ground between Skylark and Emma, Gitano and Noah.

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Family Names: Some genealogical gems

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Nameberry Leslie Owen searches through the pages of her family history and digs up some interesting–and sometimes surprisingly modern-sounding– colonial treasures.

One of the reasons I became so interested in names is because I discovered the two-volume edition of the Brewster Genealogy in my grandparents’ house in Maine.  I pored over the pages, discovering unusual family names –Ohel, for example – and names I found beautiful, such as Solace and Wrestling.  I discovered ancestors who were famous and who led incredible lives.  I discovered information that surprised my family.  The books, however, disappeared, much to my great disappointment.  But recently, I was able to download a copy of Volume One from the Boston Public Library, and I am back to using it to make lists and rediscoveries.

William and Mary Brewster had five living children, all of whom eventually came to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Elder William Brewster was the religious leader of the colony, the only one who had to leave England (there was an arrest warrant for him, for treason), and it was his tireless work that kept the survivors alive during that first hard winter, according to Governor William Bradford’s account in Of Plimouth Plantation.  The first names of the Brewsters, who married into the most prestigious New England families, fall into several categories:  Puritan virtue names, Biblical names, classic English names, and what I call Stuart/Georgian names.

Here are twelve girls’ and twelve boys’ names that I’ve found repeatedly throughout the genealogy and that could hold some interesting possibilities for an adventurous nameberry:

Girls

Celinda – one of those Stuart names, like Belinda and Melinda and perhaps a variant of Celeste or Celine.

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French Baby Names Update

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To check out the latest trends in French baby names—-and see what the future holds– we turn once again to our favorite French correspondent, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms 2011, the latest edition of which is available on French Amazon.

Here is my forecast for the Top 20 French baby names of  2011 based on statistical data from Insee, the national institute of statistics in France. The names displayed in italics are variant spellings which have been given to more than 500 babies this year.

Filles

Garçons

1. Emma 1. Lucas, Luca, Luka(s)
2. Jade 2. Mathis, Mathys, Matis
3. Chloé, Cloé 3. Noah, Noa
4. Sarah, Sara 4. Nathan
5. Léa 5. Mathéo, Matteo, Mateo
6. Manon 6. Enzo
7. Louna, Luna 7. Louis
8. Inès, Ynès 8. Raphaël, Rafaël
9. Lilou, Lylou 9. Ethan
10. Camille 10. Gabriel
11. Clara 11. Jules
12. Maëlys 12. Maxime
13. Zoé 13. Yanis
14. Louise 14. Théo, Téo
15. Lola 15. Arthur
16. Lina, Lyna 16. Tom
17. Lily, Lilly, Lili 17. Hugo
18. Eva 18. Timéo
19. Louan(n)e, Lou-Ann(e) 19. Thomas
20. Lucie 20. Kylian, Killian

 

This year, Gabriel, Samuel and Louis have shown unexpected gains in the rankings. On the other hand, Marie has plunged to 37th place, down almost 20 spots in one year. Marie was the most common name from the 15th to the 20th century in France, but although more than 1.3 million French women are still named Marie, it has finally had to let new names take over.

The rise of Old Testament names like Nathan, Gabriel, Raphaël and Noah (Noé) comes in striking contrast to the decline of Marie. The fact that the country is largely Catholic has, for centuries, resulted in the choice of traditional names such as Paul, Pierre, Luc, Jean, Mathieu or Anne, Marie, Jeanne, Catherine.

But today, Old Testament names have become more prominent, after having disappeared for centuries– Aaron, Adam, Éden, Samuel, Ruben, Maya, Noa, Eden and Talia are the rising stars of 2010.

Americans might ask: What about our consistent champion Jacob ? Well, this name has never made it into the limelight here; over the 20th century, it has never been given to more than 50 French babies in any year. In 2010, Jacob has been given to only 25 boys, so that it doesn’t even register in the top 1000. Unlike Joshua, with its dual dimension as a Protestant and Jewish name, (Joshua appears in the top 200 this year), Jacob tends to be considered as a very religious Jewish name, a tag shunned by most other parents in this increasingly secular society. 

 Stephanie Rapoport created MeilleursPrenoms.com with her husband Stuart in 2000, frustrated because “it had been so hard to choose the names of our children and the web at that time did not provide great sites such as Nameberry and MeilleursPrenoms”  Her first book, “Officiel des prenomswas published in 2002 and she has been enriching it with new name statistics analysis every year since.

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Antiquarian Names: Colonial craftsmen names

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For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column.  But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.

Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting.  George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton.  Nothing too juicy there.

But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story.  Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:

Some prime examples:

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