Category: romantic baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
St. Valentine’s day always brings to mind romantic baby name possibilities, but more often than not they’re of the female persuasion, usually lacy, multi-syllabic Victorian pretties like Arabella and Melissande. But hey–there are plenty of romantic names on the boys’s side as well, whether through sound, meaning, amatory reputation or literary connections. Here are some of the best.
A bit obvious, perhaps, but what could be more apropos than this pair? In addition to the holiday connection, Valentine is the name of a devoted friend in Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona and is also a major character in Twelfth Night. Valentino, long associated with silent screen Latin lover heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, was chosen by Ricky Martin for one of his twin boys.
And beyond celebrating Valentine’s Day baby names, let’s get expansive and salute the whole wide-ranging rise of its initial letter, ‘V.’
If consonants can be said to have personalities, then it wasn’t so long ago that the letter V was seen as more venerable—even fusty– than vivacious. Velma, Vera and Verna; Vernon, Victor and Vincent, all made our original ‘So Far Out They’ll Always Be Out’ list. But as Pam and I have learned all too well since then—never say the words never or always.
The changes have been gradual since we wrote that, but there were two celebrity events that had a significant effect on V-baby names: the naming of Violet Affleck in 2005, and then of one of the Jolie–Pitt twins Vivienne three years later. Now there are a myriad of V-starting names popping both in and out of the celebrisphere.
What marks the Edwardian era of British baby names as distinct from those used in the Victorian period is the sheer number of different names used. In previous centuries the standard practice was to select a child’s name from the immediate family. When an infant died the next child to be born would be given that name, limiting the name pool to five to eight names in a family. Fanciful names were reserved for the aristocracy, and even they kept them permeating along the family line.
The Victorians made a change to this idea. Names borne by a deceased family member were now considered ‘unlucky’. Parents suddenly had to look elsewhere for names and artistic, literary and religious movements provided much needed inspiration. The Victorian love of anything ‘gothic’, and the influence of Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites brought back medieval and mythical names like Lancelot, Ralph, Edgar, Alice, Elaine, Edith and Mabel; the Romantic movement re-introduced names such as Wilfred, Quentin, Cedric, Amy and Rowena; and the religious Tractarian movement revived long lost Saint’s names like Augustine, Benedict, Ignatius, Euphemia and Genevieve.
By the Edwardian era many of these previously obsolete names had become de rigueur and permeated all the social classes. More than at any time before, the gap between the names of the upper classes and those of the lower was considerably contracted. The 1911 census shows that many wealthy household members shared the same names as their domestic servants. For example, Constantia Beatrice Sophia, born 1905, was the daughter of a furniture mover and Lancelot Frederick Charles, born 1907, was a nurseryman’s son, showing that these previously ‘upper class’ names were now being enjoyed throughout the social classes.
One of the biggest trends of the Edwardian era of British baby names was the use of nature names. Some of the most popular names such as, Daisy, Iris, Ivy, Primrose, Beryl, Pearl and Ruby were used sparingly in the first half of the nineteenth century – and, interestingly, equally spread amongst boys and girls. By the 1880s, these names started to became very fashionable (now solely for girls) which led to them becoming the darlings of the Edwardian age.