By Tiana Putric
In the past, when rural communities were sparsely populated, hereditary surnames did not exist; people were only known by their first name. Fast forward to today and surnames in America are the norm and meeting people with several names, including hyphenated lasts, is not uncommon. What’s more, many surnames like Hunter, Jackson, Lincoln, Madison, and Piper have become popular firsts while many other surnames are in line to move from last to first place.
Here are six striking surnames with the potential to evolve into ‘new’ and great firsts for either girls or boys.
A rare name which may have never been seen on a birth certificate, Banksy is the pseudonym of the noted British street artist and activist of unknown identity. Banksy incorporates the surname Banks, last seen on the charts as a first in 1891, making it a natural nickname for Banksy. A distinctive unisex appellation, Banksy shares its long ‘e’ sound ending with the girly Daisy, Ivy, and Penny, the boyish Brady, Henry, and Jesse, and the gender-shared Charlie, Jamie, and Riley.
The appellation Bourne, fitting for either a boy or a girl, not only brings to mind Matt Damon’s superhuman Jason Bourne, but it also evokes the idea of life and new beginnings. Bourne would make for an original nature name – it means ‘stream’ in Old English, and it was given to only a handful of babies in 2015. Bourne, also spelled Born, Borne and Bourn, is a 21st century alternative to the once well used surname/place name name Melbourne. In short, Bourne can confidently stand beside other single syllable male and female names beginning with the letter ‘B’ that have been trending for years.
While many science surnames such as Carson, Darwin, Edison, and Franklin have been widely embraced by parents as firsts, the English surname Hawking, which evokes eminent scientist Stephen Hawking, has yet to be discovered. Hawking, which means ‘falconry’, brings to mind the hawk, thus allowing the name to enter a flock of avian appellations: Lark, Raven, Robin, Paloma, Peregrine, Phoenix, Sparrow, Talon, and Wren. Hawking leads to nicknames Hawk and King and could join other ‘ing’ ending names like Channing and Sterling.
With several meanings including ‘lock keeper’ and ‘fortified place’, Locke is the surname of the English philosopher John Locke whose works influenced the American Declaration of Independence. The short and simple Locke, also spelled Loch and Lock was given to 46 American newborns last year. Locke, similar in sound to Brock, a longtime chart-topper, seems poised for a place on the Top 1000. The vintage Lockie, frequently on the list between 1883 and 1904, would make for a doting nickname.
McCartney, a surname with Gaelic roots, is the only Beatles family name to have never reached the Top 1000 – Harrison, Lennon, and Starr all have. While McCartney was given to only 25 U.S. babies last year, the name may see a rise in usage thanks to its familiar ‘Mc’ beginning found in Mckayla, Mckenna, and Mckenzie as well as its closeness in sound to the long-familiar Carter and Courtney. Nicknames for the three-syllable McCartney include Mac, and Macca, the go-to British nickname for names beginning with ‘Mac’ or ‘Mc’.
With the recent awarding of the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan, attention has been focused on the surname of its founder, Alfred Nobel. Nobel has never entered the Top 1000; in fact, only 11 American babies received this name in 2015. The blue-blooded Noble on the other hand, appeared as a male name on the Top 1000 for 75 consecutive years until it disappeared in 1954 – but it beginning to be reconsidered as a virtue name for boys.
Here are a few other distinguished surnames with the potential to become contemporary firsts:
Which surnames would you like to see go from last to first?