Fourteen Shades of Elizabeth

August 2, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

The royal and biblical Elizabeth accounted for approximately a quarter of all girls’ names in early Britain, and when she emigrated to Colonial America, close to the same percentage of all girl babies were christened with that name— sometimes even more than one in a family. So it’s no wonder that numerous nicknames would pop up to distinguish among all the Elizabeths– several of which would go on to be used as independent names.
Of course Elizabeth itself is a wonderfully elegant classic, but here are some of the most appealing variations on the Elizabethan theme.


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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I was known as “Good Queen Bess ,” an indication of how popular that nickname was in the sixteenth century. It would later become a twenty-first century First Lady name via no-nonsense Bess Truman , and was also known as the name of the 1945 Miss America, Bess Myerson, and the heroine of Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess.


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