Category: old man names
Sarahmezz’s thread in the forums, which asks What are your grandparents’ names?, sounded like an intriguing one to put to the Nameberry community.
Indeed, the question has been asked before, but never as our official Question of the Week.
So please let us know your grandparents’ names, your great-grandparents’ names, and which you’d pass on to the next generation.
Old Man Names are the new Old Lady Names.
They’re the next frontier of vintage names, we mean. Old lady names — from Beatrice to Violet, Florence to Eleanor — have been mostly cool and rarely crusty for several years now. As with other fashionable categories — Old Testament names for boys, say, or Irish names — parents seem to push continuously into new and braver territory, stopping just this side of Bertha.
But old man names have been a different story. Sure, you’d get a girl cutely called Sydney, or a boy named Harold the III — but always called Tripp. And Harvey and Stanley are very trendy in England — though Americans find that totally baffling.
Now, though, we think it’s time to take a fresh look at old man names. For boys, of course, and yeah, even sometimes for girls.
The first tier of Old Man Names are the Grandpa Names, some of them Biblical, that have become popular and have paved the way for their crustier brothers. In this group we’d include:
So you’re looking for family names for your baby. But you’re not willing to pass on some monstrosity just to please mom or be sure you make it into Aunt Elfreda’s will. Rather, you want a name that carries on the best spirit of your family but that’s also wonderful in its own right.
You’re not alone. More than 70 percent of parents surveyed by nameberry say they used family names for their babies. Sometimes they varied the name to suit their taste or used a family name in the middle, but the main aim was to choose a name that honored their family lineage.
1. Survey Your Family For Ideas – Having a baby can be the perfect time to ask your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles to contribute all the family names and connections they can think of. You may be surprised at the far-flung relatives who emerge or the names that pop up that you never heard of before. When my husband and I asked our families for this information, for instance, we discovered long-lost relatives named Leopold, Owen, Jane, and Victor, all of which we liked as first names.
2. Look Beyond First Names To Surnames and Place Names – Past the usual Josephs and Elizabeths on our family trees were intriguing surnames such as Dillon and Early, along with a line of relatives from a town called Paisley, any of which could work as first names.
3. Climb Through Family Trees – Sites such as ancestry.com can help you climb into the further reaches of your family tree – or even someone else’s. Even if you don’t find any actual relatives there, you may be able to explore names used in families with the same surname as yours. So what if Clarissa or Clement may not be your bona fide second cousins 12 times removed? They could be, and maybe getting the era and the ethnicity right is close enough.
4. Consult Government Registries – More and more birth, marriage, and death records can be found online now, offering a wealth of information for the industrious baby namer. I was able to trace the Scottish side of my family back to the early 1800s with the help of Scotland’s online government resources where I discovered such delectable family names as Grey. And the new online Irish census records served up all the middle names and maiden names from my Irish grandmother’s family.
5. Search Other Historical Sources – Once you exhaust the available information on your own family, you can look through everything from old ship manifests such as those available on the Ellis Island site to the early Social Security popularity lists to old books available for free via kindle or google books for ideas of names and nicknames popular in the past.
6. Embrace the Nickname – One way to use a genuine family name but make it your own is to come up with a new nickname for Percival Charles III, calling your child Perry or Charley or maybe Mac instead of PC. Or you can go in another direction and call your child Maggie after grandma, for instance, but give her Magdalena rather than Margaret as a proper name.
7. Be Creative – You don’t need to be constrained by outmoded ideas or naming practices when spinning a family name to suit your child. Reviving great-grandma’s maiden name can be an excellent way to name a son after a female ancestor, for instance, and there’s no reason you can’t give your daughter your granddad’s first name in the middle. You can use a first letter as inspiration, or even look for a new name with the same meaning as an ancestral original.
Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices? We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.
It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names. After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.
Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.
They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.
See all our Vintage Baby Names.
If the Hundred-Year Rule – which states that it takes a century for most names to come back into fashion – holds true, then we’re in for some interesting times, judging from the list of 100 Most Popular Names of the 1910s.
A handful of the top names in the decade from 1910 to 1920 are already solidly back in style. These old fashioned baby names include:
CHARLES and CHARLIE
A larger group is, not surprisingly, on the cutting edge of style, supporting the whole Hundred-Year theory by indicating which names we’ll be hearing more of in the decade ahead. The old-fashioned names from the Top 100 in the 1910s that sound fashion-forward today include: