The Fitzes: Beyond Mr. Darcy, F. Scott and JFK
I am currently catching up on the show Scandal, which takes place in the US Capital and involves the highest political figures of the land. The fictitious president has one of the best character names I’ve ever heard: Fitzgerald Thomas Grant. He is called Fitz by those close to him, and I can’t help but be drawn to it, especially since there are so many names that could lead to the nickname. Let’s take a look at the Fitzes!
Fitz is the Anglo-Norman version of -son and means “son of.” It eventually was used by the British family as a surname of the illegitimate children of kings and princes. Fitz is also a standalone surname of German origin.
There are a few Fitz names that are or have been used in the United States. In 2012, only Fitzgerald (12) and Fitzpatrick (7) were given to boys. Since 1880, the only other Fitz names given to 5 or more boys in any given year in the United States were Fitzhugh and Fitzroy. Fitz itself also has a history of use.
Fitzgerald first showed up on the SSA database in 1919, but was only used sporadically in the years after. It’s popularity jumped in 1961 (from 5 boys in 1955 to a sudden 24 boys in 1961) and a steady stream of boys have been given the name each year ever since, never going below 7. We can definitely credit this respectful consideration to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who took over the US presidency in 1961. Fitzgerald as a given name reached its peak in 1964, the year after Kennedy was assassinated. 125 boys were given the name in that year, after 52 were given the name in 1963 and before 58 were given the name in 1965. Thanks to JFK, whose middle name was his mother’s maiden name, Fitzgerald is definitely the most popular Fitz name ever given in the United States.
Fitzhugh is next popular historically, with a peak year of 1898 when 28 boys were given the name. It also had a pretty steady time of use (given to 10 or more boys) from 1917 to 1932. After being given to 7 boys in 1967, it has no recorded use until 2002 when it was given to 5 boys and hasn’t been recorded since.
The name I am shocked has not been recorded in the SSA database is Fitzwilliam. Every Jane Austen fan knows and loves the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy, but I guess parents are more apt to honor the character by using Darcy or shortening the first name to William. I wonder about its popularity in the UK though.
Other Fitzes I have come across in my research:
Kelli Brady is a stay at home mom of two who needed an outlet for her name obsession. She found it at NameFreak!, a blog dedicated to a wide variety of name-related whims and fancies. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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on October 6th, 2013 at 10:49 pm
I’ve loved Fitz and Fritz for a long time! I’m rather surprised at the non-usage of Fitzwilliam, too. Fitzpatrick and Fitzhenry are pretty dashing!
on October 7th, 2013 at 3:38 am
One series that both DH and I love is ‘The Assassin’s Apprentice’ by Robin Hobb. The main character goes by Fitz, full name Fitzchivalry. I love it, but feel like Fitzchivalry would be extremely hard to wear!
Fitzpatrick is probably my favourite on this list – a good balance of traditional but different and slightly quirky 🙂
on October 7th, 2013 at 10:22 am
I adore Fitzwilliam! Fitzhenry and Fitzpatrick seem like the next most-usable names of the Fitz family. Fitz is such a sweet, spunky name on its own or as a nickname.
on October 7th, 2013 at 11:03 am
I like Fitzwilliam (Darcy and otherwise) and Fitzgerald. I would never use Fitz myself, but the short German Fritz is on my list. Interesting post!
on October 7th, 2013 at 11:52 am
I like Fitzwilliam as a GP name.
No Fitz- names rank anywhere in the England and Wales list.
on October 7th, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Fitzwilliam will be a middle for me (yes, I am a huge Mr Darcy fan) but I also love Fitzpatrick, Fitzhenry and Fitzrichard – unfortunately, only one Fitz- can be allowed. So Fitzwilliam it is. Thank for the post though, it was fascinating!
on October 8th, 2013 at 7:54 pm
I feel bad we forgot Ella Fitzgerald! So cool!
on October 15th, 2013 at 11:00 am
We’ve used Hugh to honor a grandparent. Though I don’t know that we would have chosen differently, I wish had thought to consider Fitzhugh!
I like the Fitz names (love “Fitzwilliam”!), but I shy away from using most of them exactly because the meaning “son of“ is so strong an association for me. I would have to have a real person to be connecting to, at least as a figurative ” of” that person.
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