Category: Classic Baby Names
By Emma Jolly
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with names.
Growing up in the English countryside, I entertained myself by making lists of names from all my favourite books. Each of my toys was named only after due consideration. I also used to write stories, usually spending more time on my characters’ names than on plots. Thinking ahead, I had full names planned for each of the nine children I intended to have. After having two real, noisy, hungry children, I decided that nine might be too many, and had to return to naming imaginary people in my fiction writing.
In my day job as a professional genealogist, I come across many interesting names. Some are useful in that they fit into a naming pattern or contain an ancestral surname that can provide clues to their family history. Others indicate a religious family, or perhaps one that is socially ambitious. Many parents in the 19th and early 20th centuries named children after family members or used fashionable options. In 1911, for example, parents opted for contemporary choices: the most popular girls names in England and Wales were Edith, Doris, Florence, Elsie and Gladys.
Those that most trigger my curiosity, however, are the names that suggest a passion of the parents for something literary, artistic, musical, or political.
By Abby Sandel
Let’s say you love old-fashioned girl names with a tailored quality. You’re all about names that topped the charts a century ago, but feel fresh and modern today.
The only problem, of course, is that you might already know a few Violets and Graces. Or you worry that your Lillian will be lost in a crowd of girls with similar names.
What’s the solution? Look for the next wave of new old girl names, of course!
To make this list, I focused on names that previously charted in the US Top 100. So Winifred and Millicent and Sybil failed the test. Any name ending in an ‘a’ was ruled out, too. Good-bye to Lucinda, Luella, and Viola!
Plenty of possibilities remained. They’re feminine, but not too elaborate. Vintage describes them well, and yet parents aren’t using them in big numbers. None of the choices on this list appear in the current US Top 1000, either – at least not as of 2015, the most current data available from the US Social Security Administration.
If you’re crushed that your favorite old-fashioned girls’ name is on everybody else’s list, too, these names might be for you.
Baby names are in general a lot more adventurous in the US than they are in the UK, with American parents using word names and place names and surname-names and gender-ambiguous names in far greater numbers than their British counterparts.
But British parents tend to be broader-minded when it comes to using vintage names with more history than gloss. Some of the names that might be considered dowdy and old-fashioned by Americans – Constance and Hubert, for example – are chic in London.
A recent review of birth announcements produced this list of names favored by contemporary parents in Britain. If you love vintage baby names that are also distinctive, you may find your perfect name here.
Looking for a classic boys’ name that’s also unusual?
Way beyond the Williams and Henrys you hear every day are dozens of boys’ names that achieve this golden combination. These names have deep roots and have been used for centuries, yet are given to only a handful of boys each year.
By Haley Sedgwick
The Edwardian era, though short, brought us many names that had hardly ever charted prior to the turn of the last century. Beginning in 1901 with the death of Queen Victoria, the end of this period is often disputed, but it’s assumed to have ended sometime around the First World War.
Namesake King Edward VII was known to be particularly stylish, influencing art and fashion across Europe, some of which can be seen in the first season of Downton Abbey, which depicts the tail end of the era.
With the high fashions of the period, names were changing, just as quickly as the times were. Unfortunately, name data from England and Wales before 1996 only exists in ten-year intervals; the following names were gaining popularity in 1904 and 1914 in England and Wales.