New Jersey gets no respect. We’ve been laughed at, lied to, hell—we’ve even endured some pretty serious storms. But hey, you have to hand it to us, we’re survivors. The Garden State has a lot going for it—like these baby names with history you’ve got to read to believe, written by yours truly, a proud ‘Joi-sey’ girl. You want to make something of it? And for all those who think we’re just a landfill: Dream on, read on, and just remember, we’re Jersey Strong; we can handle anything you’ve got.
Aberdeen– This Scottish place-name for girls can also refer to the beach-township in Monmouth County.
Alice– In 1920, the celebrated suffragist and women’s rights activist, Alice Paul, led the campaign that resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Born in Mount Laurel and died in Moorestown, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1979. A name that is strong and sweet, Alice is also popular, jumping from Number 258 to Number127 this past year!
Bruce– “The Boss” Springsteen has made a successful career out of Jersey Shore pride. Born in Long Branch, and growing up in Freehold Borough, he earned his nickname while playing at various clubs around what he would one day call “the great state of New Jersey,” when he got in the habit of dividing and distributing up the nightly pay for his bandmates at the end of their gigs. Bruce is a Norman place-name famed by the Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who won Scotland‘s independence from England in the fourteenth century.
Edison, Jackson, and Harrison– the three male names (and NJ towns) that bear the stylish –son ending. Edison—renamed in his honor in the 1950s– was where Thomas Alva Edison invented the first phonograph and developed the incandescent lamp in the late 1800’s in his Menlo Park laboratory. The town of Jackson, named for seventh president of the U.S. Andrew Jackson, is known for housing the tallest roller coaster in the world at Six Flags Great Adventure. Harrison may be best known as the first name of Indiana Jones actor Harrison Ford, but it’s also a suburb of Newark.
Elizabeth– The town was founded in 1665 by English settlers, and named after the wife of Vice Admiral Sir George Carteret, first baronet and one of the original proprietors of the colony of New Jersey. During the Revolutionary War, Elizabeth was repeatedly attacked by British forces.
Ellis– Bet you didn’t know that this name of the historic island that welcomed millions of immigrants to America belongs to New Jersey, not New York, according to a 1998 Supreme Court decision. Ellis, used today for both girls and boys, is a Welsh name meaning benevolent.
Giovanni– New Jersey was widely populated with tribes of the Lenape at the time Giovanni da Verrazzano (think Verrazano Bridge in NYC) explored the Jersey Shore and the Narrows in 1524. This Italian classic is a variation of John, and currently ranks Number119.
Hudson– The Hudson River, named for explorer Henry Hudson, separates New York and New Jersey. Now at Number 93 and climbing, Hudson is also a namesake of Hudson County, where the Lenape tribes practiced hunting, gathering, and agriculture in the 17th century.
Jovi– Bon Jovi’s fourth album entitled New Jersey included number one singles “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There for You.” Lead singer John Francis Bongiovi changed his name to be spelled phonetically before it became iconic. Used as both a male or female name (also spelled Jovie) this name can pay homage to one of the most famous rock bands of the 80’s and 90’s that started in Sayreville, NJ.
Laurel, Linden, and Lacey– Three lovely townships beginning with ‘L’; Mount Laurel is perhaps most famous for being the town where suffragist Alice Paul was born. Linden is the name of a sturdy tree that can live for centuries and also a New Jersey suburb. And the feminine Lacey is the name of a beach township “down the shore.”
Princeton– One of the oldest and arguably classiest towns in New Jersey, Princeton is the home of the state’s Ivy League university, founded in 1746. Used as an English male name, it means “princely town.”
Trenton– The capitol of New Jersey was the site of two battles, The Battles of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War, and oddly enough, The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles’ fictional radio broadcast of 1938. More than 1,000 babies a year are being called Trenton.
Verona– 2008’s Number1 place to live in New Jersey according to New Jersey Monthly magazine is also an Italian-inspired female name, most famous for being the scenic city where Shakespeare’s Romeo laid eyes on Juliet.
Violet and Viola– Bet you didn’t know that New Jersey’s state flower is the viola sororia, commonly known as the blue violet. Along with the flowery connotation, Viola alludes to the rhythm of the musical instrument.