Category: British names
At long last, the official list of the most popular names for baby girls and boys born in England and Wales in 2009 has been released. And, to cut to the chase, here are the Top 10 for each gender–all of which were there last year, with several remaining in the same spot:
- Chloe (up 3 places)
- Emily (down 1)
- Sophie (up 2)
- Jessica (down 1)
- Grace (down 3)
- Oliver (up 1)
- Jack (down 1)
- Harry (up 1)
- Alfie (up 2)
- Thomas (down 3)
- William (up 2)
- Daniel (down 2)
So Jack hit the road, after reigning as #1 for 14 years–though he was still on top in Wales and some areas of England. But it’s interesting to note that if the 12 different spellings of Mohammed that were listed separately had counted as one name, it would have topped Oliver.
The biggest climbers in the Top 100 were Maisie for the girls and Austin for the boys. There were also regional differences (Isabella in London‘s Top Ten, Seren #3 in Wales) and seasonal (Holly was the favorite name for the month of December).
The Royalist spirit was reflected in the naming of 16 Kings, 68 Princes, eight Dukes, 11 Earls, four Barons and four Lords, as well as 12 Queenies, seven Queens, 109 Princesses and five Ladys.
There were only six new boys’ names in the Top 100:
I remember how, when I first read the novels of Evelyn Waugh and the plays of George Bernard Shaw, a whole new universe of names opened up for me. A world of sophisticated, eccentric, kind of uppity and veddy veddy Victorian and Edwardian British names, many of which I had never heard before, but instantly became enamored with.
The comic novels of Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse and the plays (and novel) of Oscar Wilde and Shaw are still a good place to start if you’re looking for a name with a certain elegance, gentility, swank—and sometimes a bit of quirkiness as well.
- Agatha – Waugh
- Amarylis – Shaw
- Ariadne – Shaw
- Augusta – Wilde
- Candida – Shaw
- Cecily – Shaw and Wilde
- Chastity – Waugh
- Clarice – Wodehouse
- Cordelia – Waugh
- Dahlia – Wodehouse
- Domenica – Waugh
- Eliza – Shaw
- Epifania – Shaw
- Evangeline – Wodehouse
- Flossie – Waugh
- Fortitude – Waugh
- Gwendolen – Wilde
- Hester – Wilde
- Hypatia – Wodehouse
- Justice – Waugh
- Lilith – Shaw
- Mercy– Waugh
- Orinthia – Shaw
The British Prime Minister recently chose the Cornish name Endellion as the middle name for his new daughter. The baby was premature, and born while the family was on holiday in Cornwall, and Endellion was chosen because the family regularly holidayed at the little village of St Endellion, so strictly speaking the name belongs with the growing trend to use place names (such as Dakota, Savannah) as first names. However, it is also a traditional Cornish name.
But first a bit of background. Cornwall is a popular holiday place because of its unspoilt beauty. Its unspoilt beauty comes from the fact that its position at the extreme south west of England makes it isolated. This isolation protected it in the past, and led to the preservation of a uniquely Cornish culture.
1500 years ago, when the rest of England was being taken over by the Anglo-Saxons, Cornwall remained independent and retained its own language, descended from the language of the ancient British and closely related to Welsh, into the 18th century. This language is the source of many of the specially Cornish names, while the distinctive West-Country way of pronouncing English has been another source.
Every few months, about as often as I allow myself to relish a hot caramel sundae and with about the same amount of delicious anticipation, I dip into the London Telegraph birth announcements to see what the upper-crusty British baby namers are up to.
And as with that sundae, the results rarely disappoint. There are always plenty of eccentric three-name combinations, lots of charming sibsets, and a collection of names not often heard in my neighborhood of New Jersey.
One trend asserting itself in this collection: R names, with a raft of children (far beyond those mentioned here) called Rory, Rufus, Rupert, Rex, and Rowley, and on the girls’ side, Ruby, Rose, Rosemary, Rosalind (and Rosalyn) and Romilly. R is a letter that’s seemed dowdy for quite some time — blame all those Baby Boom Roberts and Richards — and is due for a resurgence.
The best of the recent British baby names are, for girls:
- Clementine Annabel Emily, sister for Rupert
- Daphne Olga Amelie, sister for Henry and Beatrice
- Eliza Miranda Rosemary, sister for William
When British Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha was due to deliver their baby recently, there was a flurry of publicity on both sides of the Atlantic concerning the odds being given by bookmakers on various name possibilities. Since this practice is unknown in the US, we put a shout out for a Britberry to explain it, and ‘Auburn’ answered the call.
On-track betting agencies, or “bookies”, have been around for decades, but it was with the legalisation of high street bookmakers that the industry boomed in the UK. Now, the main betting agencies – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and the Irish Paddy Power - not only take bets on the outcome of sporting events, but also novelty bets on the winners of TV reality shows and, most recently, what name would be given to British PM David Cameron‘s new little girl.
It would take someone with only the most casual of name interests to see that Ladbrokes sorely needs a Nameberry intervention. Its favourites were Lucy, Daisy and Samantha. Lovely names, certainly, but the first two are clearly much too popular for the Camerons, with Lucy at #14 and Daisy at #25 in the UK. The name of their older daughter, Nancy, isn’t rare but is nowhere near that level of popularity. The names the couple chose for their sons Ivan, who died tragically at age six last year, and Arthur Elwen, who goes by his middle name, are downright obscure. As for Samantha, the likelihood of Sam Cam giving her second daughter her name in the first slot, when that passing down of names is fairly rare in Britain anyway, is … well, let’s just say I wouldn’t bet on it.
Certain other companies must have been consulting with Pam and Linda, because William Hill did much better – they gave Florence odds of 16/1: the baby was named Florence Rose Endellion, the last the Arthurian name of the patron saint of the Cornwall village where the child was born. Unfortunately, no bets were placed in her favour, but given their history of comparative accuracy you might want to put your money on Nick Clegg being Flo Cameron’s godfather (odds of 6/1).
Why has this trend of baby name betting sprung up? It’s all about what sells, and celebrity certainly does that. Novelty bets like these attract people who have no interest in more traditional wagers. It’s the same reason that newspapers report the odds so eagerly, too; celebrity babies make good news, but you can’t just publish an article speculating on names with no evidence. It’s beneficial to both parties for the media to quote the betting stores as though they were an authority on etymology. The pinch of salt these articles have to be taken with is indicated by the fact that one newspaper claimed Lucy was #12 on the top baby names of 2009 … even though statistics for the whole year of 2009 haven’t been released by the government yet.
It’s not just names that the bookies are taking an interest in, though – Paddy Powers has novelty bets on the first country to have their head of state confirm that they’ve been in contact with aliens, when the Hadron collider will reach full power and which will be the next volcano to erupt.
Making money aside, several things imply that the betting agencies just like a bit of a giggle over their novelty bets – odds of 500/1 that the panda born recently on a Chinese reserve will be named Paddy Power suggest they don’t take themselves too seriously. If you fancy a high risk flutter such as that, you could also bet on odds of 1000/1 that baby Florence will grow up to lead the Labour party (imagine those dinner table debates), and before the release of the iPad you might have considered the 100/1 possibility that it would be called ‘iCan’t believe it’s not a newspaper.’
‘Auburn‘ is a British teen who enjoys linguistics, and by extension is a devoted name lover. She is also passionate about film, theatre and literature, and finds all three to be worthy sources of name inspiration.
AND PLEASE NOTE THAT AS OF TODAY THERE IS A BRAND NEW FORUM ON THE MESSAGE BOARDS ESPECIALLY RESERVED FOR WRITERS WHO WANT TO TALK ABOUT NAMES!