by Sophie Kihm
Whether or not you actually believe in ghosts, it’s hard to deny that a ghost name would be ideal for a baby born around Halloween. And I’m not talking about Casper, Jacob, or Helena, all ghosts from popular culture. Today we’re looking at ghost names for babies of the supposedly real ghosts that walk among us, haunting our cities and towns after their tortured pasts.
Of course, many of their stories are tragic enough that the superstitious among us might think twice before naming a child after one of these ghosts. But for true fans of the supernatural, a baby name with a ghostly backstory could feel just right.
Here, ten “real” ghost names for your Halloween baby.Agnes: Agnes Sampson was accused of witchcraft in 16th century Scotland, for which she was later executed. Her ghost, known as Bloody Agnes, is said to haunt Holyrood Palace—Queen Elizabeth’s official Scottish residence. Agnes is a quirky name that has recently been embraced by trendsetting parents but has not yet made it back into the US Top 1000. The adorable girl in Despicable Me may help propel Agnes back into fashion.
Catalina: Catalina Lercaro is a famous Spanish ghost, claimed to spook the Canary Islands. Unhappy with her forced engagement to an older man, Catalina killed herself on her wedding day by jumping into a pit outside her family home. The name Catalina is the Spanish variation of Catherine and has taken a large leap in popularity over the past decade. This may have something to do with Catalina’s recognizability as a place name—currently a hot category in names. Santa Catalina is an island off of California, and Isla Catalina is off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
Dorothy: Dorothy Townshend is the famed Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, who was supposedly captured on film in 1936. Lady Dorothy died in Raynham Hall from smallpox in 1726, but the first reported sighting of her ghost was not until 1835. The ghostly photograph was published in Country Life in 1937, although many regard it as a hoax today. Dorothy feels fresh again for girls after decades of association with The Wizard of Oz. Dorothea, the name from which Dorothy is derived, is also getting more attention. Dot and Dottie make sweet nicknames for either.
Esther: Queen Esther was an Iroquois leader who live in Pennsylvania in the 18th century. After the death of her son at the hands of colonial townsmen, she ordered an attack that led to the loss of her entire village. Rumor has it that the Ghost of Queen Esther prevents hunters’ guns from firing in the Pennsylvania woods to protect her village. The name Esther is an Old Testament classic and has never left the Top 400. It’s on the ascent right now, currently ranked at #153 in the US.
Kate: Kate is associated with two notable ghosts, Kate Morgan and the Bell Witch. Kate Morgan is said to haunt the Hotel del Coronado in California, where she was found dead—although by murder or suicide it is unclear—in 1892. The Bell Witch, said to be named Kate, was a spirit who haunted the Bell family in 19th century Tennessee. It is widely considered folklore, but the legend of the Bell Witch was the basis for multiple stories in pop culture, including The Blair Witch Project. Kate originated as a nickname for Katherine but is substantial enough to stand on its own. It conjures up royal images thanks to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Mary: Perhaps the most pervasive ghost of folklore is Bloody Mary, who is said to appear in one’s mirror if her name is chanted in a dimly-lit room. Bloody Mary is not reliably linked to a specific person from history, although it is suggested that she might be Mary I of England, who was nicknamed Bloody Mary, or Mary Worth, who was killed in the Salem Witch Trials. Mary is also the most pervasive name on this list, as it was the top girls’ name in the US for over seventy years.
Minnie: Minnie Quay was a teenager in Forester, Michigan, who drowned herself after learning of her lover’s death from a sunken ship. Her ghost is thought to wander along the shores of Lake Huron. Minnie is still heavily associated with Minnie Mouse, but otherwise fits in with the trend of vintage nickname revivals, along with Millie, Josie, and Sadie. Quay, our ghost’s surname, also works as a baby name. It rhymes with “key” and is French for “wharf.”
Nan: Nan Tuck disappeared in the woods of Buxted, England, after poisoning a man in the 17th century. The village has a road named after her, Nan Tuck’s Lane, which is apparently haunted by her ghost. Historically Nan was a nickname for Ann or Nancy, but it can also be used as a short form of the more popular Annabel, as in Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers.”
William: Sweet William’s Ghost is an English folk song that tells the story of a ghost, William, appealing to his fiancé to be free of his commitment to marry her. Little is known about the origins of the ballad, but it is speculated that the story may have been inspired by a 17th century British play. William is a classic name—a common name among historic kings—and the third most popular name for boys in the US.
Zona: Zona Shue—born Elva Zona Heaster—is the Greenbrier Ghost of West Virginia. She was murdered by her husband in 1897 and her mother claimed Zona’s ghost visited her in the weeks following her death. Zona’s interesting name is Latin in origin and also the name of a constellation of Orion. It peaked on the US popularity charts in 1887 at #412. A notable wearer is Zona Gale, a novelist and playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.
So which of these real-life ghost names for babies would you consider?
Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sophie lives in Chicago.