Georgian Girls Names: Alethea, Augusta and Jane
By Haley Sedgwick
I’ve always loved reading classic books. By the time I was twelve, I’d read a few Shakespearean plays, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Shakespeare was great of course; however, Jane Austen gave me even more. With her novels, I got the charming, delightful gentlemen I’d always dreamt of (and still do dream of!), the romance, the passion, and, a new range and style of names. After reading Pride & Prejudice (and falling in love with the thought of finding my own Mr. Darcy), I fell in love with the Georgian style of naming.
A time of great elegance, the Georgian era – named for the four British King Georges who ruled over it — lasted over 115 years, from 1714 to 1830. Along with Eliza Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Georgian era often conjures images of powdered wigs and stately architecture. Many of the buildings and styles of the Georgian era are still extant today – including the Georgian taste in names.
Following is a list of my favorite names from the period, drawn from literature and from my research on Georgian naming . At the end of the post, you’ll find the resources that were useful in putting it together.
Priscilla – My number one favorite from this era, Priscilla has an upper class image without being completely over the top. One of the many names of the Georgian era that are still commonly used today, last year Priscilla ranked in the U.S. top 500.
Henrietta – With Henry having been a favorite of mine since I was little, Henrietta seemed like an obvious choice for me. Having a slightly more historic and royal feel than Harriet, Henrietta still shares a meaning and the nickname Hattie with Harriet, making it a nice alternative if Harriet is deemed unusable.
Jane – As a lover of Jane Austen, this name was automatically added to my list. Jane is classic, timeless, elegant, and down-to-earth, all at the same time. For me, Jane is perhaps the most beautiful classic name, right up with Charlotte, Eleanor and Amelia.
Christiana – Christiana is a lovely, frillier take on the equally wonderful Christina. Christiana is a character in the movie Nanny McPhee, who goes by the nickname Chrissie. A more unpredictable nickname I like for Christiana is Tiana.
Lavinia – My favourite Shakespearean name, Lavinia is sweet, frilly, and, underused. Sharing the nickname Livvy with the ever so popular Olivia, Lavinia is a more unfamiliar, yet still classic choice.
Augusta – Once a royal favorite, Augusta deserves a good dusting off, in my opinion. Regal and elegant, Augusta has the charm of Sophia, but remains underused, having been off the U.S. Top 1000 for close to 70 years.
Alethea – An attractive ‘secret’ virtue name, Alethea means truth, making it a nice substitution for someone wanting a virtue name, such as Verity, but one that’s less ‘wordy’ at the same time. Alethea also has common nicknames, such as Allie or Lea.
Georgiana – Ah, the delightful Georgiana! Growing up, Georgia was a favourite of mine, which then morphed into Georgina, which then reminded me too much of the wicked Regina George, which finally brought me to Georgiana. Frilly, elegant, classy, Georgiana is definitely high up on my favorites list.
Martha – Martha’s long been a favorite of mine, possibly due to the nickname Maisie. Martha may be too Martha Stewart-ish for some, but, if, like me, you love the classic, strong, feminine feel that it carries, Martha can be much more than the name of a lifestyle guru.
For anyone interested in learning more about names of this period, I’ve found some great references, and, also, Apollonia of the Nameberry forums, has provided me with some amazing links.
http://www.reg-ency.com/re_logform.php (log in: JWaugh, password: Research)
What are your favourite Georgian names for girls?
Haley, better known as LawsonHaley on the Nameberry forums, is an 18-year-old name nerd and history lover from Canada. She has been researching names since the age of 9, when she decided her baby doll needed the perfect name.
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on November 11th, 2013 at 12:38 am
I really like this post and I think it is well done.
My favorites of the ones you talked about are Priscilla, Henrietta, Lavinia Jane, and Martha. I like Georgiana due primarily to Austen’s using it. I think Honora would have pronunciation issues since some people prefer it pronounced Uh-Nora and some pronounce it Ho-nor-a.
From your bonus list I love Octavia, Louisa, Caroline, Lucinda, Penelope, Amelia, Diana, and Clarinda.
Evelina deserves special mention since it was a best-selling book by author Fanny Burney. I think Evelina is the iconic Georgian choice and is a very wonderful name I think could be used more.
My Georgian sister set would be Amelia, Evelina, Georgiana, and Louisa.
Clarissa was another book from the time, and I love that name.
I also love Cassandra, the beautiful sister of Jane Austen.
Great post. Classic, beautiful names. Good Job!
on November 11th, 2013 at 7:20 am
I love Lavinia & Alethea. I would use the nickname Leth for Alethea, I think it’s great. I love Martha & Augusta too. Great post!
on November 11th, 2013 at 7:53 am
@EmilyVA – thank you! I originally had a much, much longer list, but, I wasn’t entirely sure how well written my post was, so I tried to keep it to a minimum, Cassandra, Clarissa & Evelina were close to making the list, but I felt that Clarissa was more Victorian than Georgian, and the other two, when it came down to it, I just didn’t adore them as much as the rest! 🙂
@tararyaz – Leth is one I never thought of! I forgot to add Thea as a nn option, but I think I’d use Lea(h). Martha’s a long withstanding favourite of mine, she’s so classic and wonderful!
on November 11th, 2013 at 8:23 am
I really like this post, lots of interesting names in there 🙂
on November 11th, 2013 at 8:55 am
Well-written blog post! Great job. Georgian names aren’t my personal cup of tea, but this is a great resource article and very interesting, not to mention a very fun read.
on November 11th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Yay Jane Austen names! I particularly love Henrietta, Louisa, and Georgiana. But, one has to admit, with a Mary, Jane, and Elizabeth in nearly every book, and quite a few Georges and Johns as well, Jane Austen wasn’t the most creative character namer.
on November 11th, 2013 at 12:05 pm
I adore the Georgian period – for literature and architecture. I loved travelling to the gorgeous city of Bath, England years ago. It’s a magical place that transports back in time. A true national treasure!
I love many of these Georgian gems: Jane, Charlotte, Georgiana, Augusta, Lavinia, Louisa, Jemima, Clarinda and Evelina.
Thank you Haley for bringing out the “Georgian Girl” in me today!
on November 11th, 2013 at 12:53 pm
@serenruby – thank you! I’m glad you think so 🙂
@saracita00 – Thank you very much 🙂 I know they’re not for everyone, but I’m glad you enjoyed reading it!
@jame1881 – yes! I adore Jane Austen, but I do have to admit, her naming styles weren’t always creative. Interestingly enough, her nieces and nephews weren’t creatively named either. Her younger brother, Charles, married a Frances, had a daughter named Frances, and her brother Frank (a Francis), had both a son AND daughter named Frances/Francis. A lot of names happened to be repeated at that time though(so I’ve seen from graveyards & Ancestry.com records), so she was likely just sticking to the trends of the era 😉
@Mischa – oh, I’d love to visit England! My family is entirely from England on my mother’s side, so all the history would be fantastic. My family’s from Liverpool primarily, (as well as Aberdeen, Scotland), so I’d love to travel to Liverpool and see all the history. Clarinda is definitely a favourite of mine, not quite Claire, not quite Linda, but a gorgeous, underused name. You’re very welcome!
on November 11th, 2013 at 1:25 pm
What a wonderful blog entry! For me, the Georgian era conjures up visions of Kate Greenaway’s illustrations – particularly her illustrations of young ladies in white regency dress. A time of elegance, yes, but also a time that cherished pastoral simplicity. (I love to envision a Georgian/Regency era village where all the women have names of flowers taken from Kate Greenaway’s The Language of Flowers).
Great Georgian names on your list, Haley – all those feminine lovelies ending in well-rounded “a’s” are a delight to see. Some of my favorites: Arabella, Clarissa, Lavinia, Lucinda, Phillida.
Many thanks for those links, as well – especially the one for The Regency Encyclopedia!
on November 11th, 2013 at 4:22 pm
Haley, your love of literature shows – you are such a good writer yourself.
I too love Georgian names, and envy my friend Lavinia Charlotte. She’s called Vinnie – but Livvie, which I’ve never heard for Lavinia, is great! I don’t like Martha at all (dowdy and doormattish) – but the nickname Maisie (which I’ve only heard for Margaret) makes it palatable.
At the moment I’m crushing on Eleanor, the name of one of my Georgian forebears, but also love Elinor, which Jane Austen used – it’s also the Welsh version of Eleanor, I believe.
on November 11th, 2013 at 4:31 pm
@nephele – not a problem, that one is one that Apollonia off of our wonderful Nameberry forums shared with me!
@saffron_rice – thank you, what a wonderful compliment! I’ve heard of Vinnie before, but, I figured all the letters for Livvie are there, and I do love the nn Livvie, so I thought it’d be a nice, modern touch to Lavinia. Maisie for Martha was similar, I’ve seen May as a nickname for Martha, and May was too blah for me, but making May into Maisie changed it all. Elinor is also gorgeous, I’m not sure on it’s origin, but I love it.
on November 12th, 2013 at 9:46 am
on November 12th, 2013 at 10:19 am
I adore Georgiana and Lavinia. Louisa has been growing on me recently and I’ve always liked the classic Catherine, although I prefer it with a K. Jemima has just entered my naming-periphery and I’m really beginning to love it.
on November 12th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
My favourites from the list mentioned above are…
on November 12th, 2013 at 8:21 pm
Georgiana is just beautiful. I may possibly love it even more than Georgia…
on November 12th, 2013 at 11:47 pm
Christiana is one of my favorite girls’ names and I love the so-called “dated” nicknames of Christy and Chrissy for it. I did meet a Christiana this summer whose nickname is Ana and I think that’s cute, too. I’ve also known a Georgiana who pronounces it “Georgie-ahna” and goes by Georgi (which is why I don’t understand the “George-AIN-ah” pronunciation).
My other favorites here:
on November 13th, 2013 at 10:50 pm
Haley, you clearly have a gift for writing. What a delicious, meaty blog post on my favorite subject: vintage names. You simply must write more :). Also, it was very gracious of you to credit me with contributing to your links.
on November 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am
@apollonia thank you! 🙂 I’m hoping to write more pieces, (fingers crossed!) and, I felt with all the wonderful links you found for me to use, I needed to credit you in finding them 🙂
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on February 15th, 2017 at 1:21 pm
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