Category: historic names for boys

posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author
Saxon Names from the Last Kingdom

By Clare Bristow

Viewers on both sides of the Atlantic have been enjoying the television show The Last Kingdom, based on novels by Bernard Cornwell. Set in the ninth century, it tells the story of the Danish invasion of what is now England, and the Saxon resistance.

A lot of the characters are real historical figures so we know their names are appropriate for their time and place (always a relief for name lovers). Many of the fictional characters also have names that were recorded around the same time.

Here are seven authentic Anglo-Saxon men’s names from the show, ranging from the familiar to the unheard-of. Characters’ names are spelled here are they are in the credits.

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This year once more, and again with apologies to our dear Britberries,  we honor some of the (more interestingly named) heroes in the struggle of the US to gain its independence from the mother country, as well as some of the more unusually named Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Here, some early patriotic baby names:


BETSY (Elizabeth) Ross—even though she may not have actually made the first American flag

DEBORAH Sampson — first known female to impersonate a man in order to join the army and take part in combat

LYDIA Darragh – Quaker woman who (probably) warned Washington of an impending attack

MERCY Otis Warren –a political writer and propagandist who authored plays and poems advocating independence

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Though its current associations might run more to barbecues, picnics and parades, Memorial Day conjures up a load of historic references dating back to its post-Civil War origins, as well as some more contemporary traditions.

There are several blogs-worth of noteworthy Civil War generals’ names alone—Alpheus, Americus, Cassius, Gustavus, Lafayette, Napoleon, Pleasant, Romeyn, for starters– but for now we’ve included just a few of the most intriguing, as well as some less obvious Memorial Day names associated with the holiday.

BLUE and GREYThe colors of the  uniforms of the Union and Confederate soldiers fighting the Civil War (the Confederate soldiers sometimes referred to the Yankees disparagingly as ‘bluebellies’),  Blue and Gray are the current coolest of the unisex color names. Blue Ivy is the much-discussed name picked by Beyoncé and Jay-Z for their daughter; actress Jenna von Oy recently named her daughter Gray.

CATHAYCathay Williams—aka William Cathay—was one of many women who passed as men to serve as Civil War soldiers.  A former slave, she was the first African-American woman to enlist. Cathay is an evocative old term for China used by Marco Polo that could make an interesting choice—if it weren’t in danger of being constantly confused with Cathy.

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