TV Names: Upstairs, Downstairs & Downton
At last, at last, the third season of Downton Abbey has finally launched, a further opportunity for those of us who love vintage British names to spend time with the Crawley clan et al. We’re now lucky enough to have had two recent TV period imports with great examples of character names, both for the aristos upstairs and the servants below. The time frame of both Downton Abbey and the recently updated Upstairs, Downstairs is the early decades of the twentieth century: Downton now picks up in 1920; the second series of Upstairs in 1936, six years after the initial one ended.
And if there seems to be a preponderance of girls’ names, it’s because so many of the male characters, both upstairs and down, have such common names as Thomas, Robert, Matthew, William, Joseph and John.
Here are some of the most interesting names in both series; and it’s worthy of note that the British TV names that are being revived today come equally from both social strata, as in, for example, Isobel and Ivy, Edith and Elsie.
Persephone—Upstairs, Downstairs—more commonly known as Lady Persie
Beryl—Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs
For a look back at the original 1971 -75 Upstairs, Downstairs series, which spanned the years from 1903 to 1930, here are some of the Upstairs names used:
And then there are the surnames, heard on the three series, that might be conceivable firsts:
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on January 8th, 2013 at 1:47 am
Beryl is also the name of Mrs. Patmore in Downton Abbey.
on January 8th, 2013 at 1:51 am
Thanks–I added it.
on January 8th, 2013 at 2:39 am
I think the habit of calling women by their last name only as heard on Downton (O’Brian, etc.) is very interesting. I heard Reid as a womans’ name with new ears last night. I like it!
on January 8th, 2013 at 10:02 am
I like Ivy and Evelyn the best.
I heard 3 great names on New Year’s Day. On the Today Show, one of the anchors (who was on the 1st MTV Road Rules) has 3 children – all with Last Name First Names!
Daughters: Campbell and Hayes (about 10 and 9 yrs old)
Son: Crowley (4 or 5 yrs old)
She’s very Southern… but I thought that they also sounded very Downton.
on January 8th, 2013 at 10:28 am
I’ve noticed the name Cora becoming very popular and I really do not like it. It is such a boring name with little personality. And any middle name that you pair with it that starts with a vowel just makes it sound like “core”.. as for the rest of the list they are alright.
on January 8th, 2013 at 11:10 am
Persephone is number one on my list. Crap. Now it is going to get super popular.
on January 8th, 2013 at 11:13 am
A friend just named her baby Cora. The only other Cora I know outside Downton is 90!
on January 8th, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Love all of these names! Downton Abbey is a fantastic show.
on January 8th, 2013 at 12:29 pm
I fell in love with Persephone hearing it in use on Upstairs Downstairs. Same with Lavinia and Downton. I’ve also grown to really appreciate Mary, Edith, Sybil and Cora thanks to the Crawley ladies. And, now I come to think of it, my love of Daisy, Elsie and Lotte was helped along by their use on these programmes. I’m far too easily influenced, it would seem.
Fantastic blog plost, thanks 🙂
on January 8th, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Oh, and Evelyn on a boy is a total, massive GP of mine.
on January 8th, 2013 at 12:40 pm
What about Abbey! 😉
on January 8th, 2013 at 5:40 pm
Thank you so much! I love Downton Abbey and have always found the names to be an interesting aspect of the show.
on January 8th, 2013 at 9:52 pm
This is a great post, I got really excited when I saw it 😀 Downton Abbey is a MAJOR obsession of mine, and I love so many of the names, both first names and surnames. I’m too chicken to name a child this, but the next male pet I get will undoubtedly be Bates, after my favourite character 🙂
on January 16th, 2013 at 3:41 am
Sybil is my favorite.
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