Vintage Baby Names: Lost Boys of 1916

Doyle, Dorsey, Booker, and more

By Abby Sandel

In April, we looked at the vintage girl names of 1916, rarities still lingering in the attic. Now it’s time for vintage boy names from 1916! These choices weren’t chart-toppers one hundred years ago, but they were in the Top 1000, and in steady, regular use. Today, they feel surprisingly fresh, even modern. If you’re looking for a rare name with a history of use, these names could be the perfect pick for a son.

Archibald – If you love long names like Alexander and Sebastian, this Germanic choice might be for you. It carries a great meaning: true and bold. Once big in Scotland, it has been unranked in the US since the 1920s. Archibald is the name Amy Poehler and Will Arnett chose for their older son in 2008. Archie makes an upbeat nickname.

Booker – Originally a surname name for a bookbinder, Booker is now associated with early Civil Rights leader Booker T. Washington. It fits in nicely with popular ends-in-r names for boys like Carter, Hunter, and Parker.

Dorsey – This surname name charted as a boy’s given name in the US every year into the 1950s. Derived from the French d’Orsay – from Orsay, a town outside of Paris – it’s most famous as the surname of The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Brothers Tommy and Johnny became major stars in the 1930s and 40s, but Dorsey feels very 2016.

VintageBoys1Doyle – Looking for an Irish name much less expected than Liam? Dark horse Doyle left the US Top 1000 after 1981. Namer extraordinare Joss Whedon gave the name to a character in Angel, but parents have continued to pass this one by, favoring the more familiar Riley, Brody, and Brady instead.

Grover – If not for the fuzzy blue Sesame Street character, Grover might be big right now. It’s presidential, ends-in-r, and has an EcoVintage vibe thanks to the meaning “grove of trees.” If you’re crushed that Oliver is so popular, maybe Grover is worth a second look.

Hamilton – The Founding Father surname name charted in the US Top 1000 into the 1930s. Now that LinManuel Miranda has transformed the first Secretary of the Treasury’s biography into an acclaimed musical, can Hamilton be revived as a baby name?

Hardy – Associated with the fictional detective brothers Frank and Joe, Hardy was used as a boy’s name into the 1950s. It comes from an Old French word meaning bold or brave, and sounds just like the similar hearty. An on-trend sound and positive meaning make Hardy prime for rediscovery.

Ike Love Jack and Max, but want something more rare? Consider Ike, associated with the 34th President of the United States, as well as musicians Ike and Tina Turner. The name last appeared in the US Top 1000 back in the 1950s, and remains rare, though Isaac – often shortened to Ike – is a favorite with parents today.

Jules – Originally a French form of Julius, Jules brings to mind science fiction writer Jules Verne and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer. With –s ending boy names like Miles and Brooks in vogue, Jules might make a great alternative to Top 100 choice Julian.

VintageBoys4smallLeopoldLove Leo, but looking for a longer name? There’s Italian-by-way-of-Hollywood Leonardo, the Spanish Leonel, or the ancient Leonidas, all Top 1000 picks. But Leopold remains overlooked. Royal and literary, Leopold would make a surprising choice for a boy in 2016.

Lucius Luke and Lucas are in the current US Top Thirty, while Luca comes in at Number 157. The Biblical, literary Lucius is known to today’s generation as Draco’s dastardly dad, Lucius Malfoy, of Harry Potter fame. Spelled Lucious, it’s the name of Empire patriarch Lucious Lyon. If ancient names like Augustus and Cassius appeal, Lucius could be one to consider. It hasn’t ranked in the US since the 1960s.

Noble – A virtue name used into the 1950s, Noble would fit right in with bold boy names like Royal and Legend. Ultimately from the Latin nobilis, meaning excellent, high-born, or famous, it was first applied to well-known families in Rome. 144 Nobles were born in 2015 – but back in 1916, that number was 158. Either way, it’s much less common than King.

Willis – A surname name seldom heard since 1980s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes went off the air, Willis brings to mind the original maker of the Jeep (spelled Willys) and Chicago’s Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). It’s an interesting alternative to the evergreen William.

Would you consider any of these names for a son? Are there other boy names from 1916 on your list?

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16 Responses to “Vintage Baby Names: Lost Boys of 1916”

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NaomiNY Says:

July 14th, 2016 at 11:08 pm

I might consider Booker, Dorsey, Doyle, Hamilton, Lucius, Jules, and Willis.

mill1020 Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 12:04 am

I like Booker, Grover, Ike, and maybe even Hamilton (“Hammy”?).

Essa Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 5:38 am

I like Ike and Lucius from this list. If use Ike as a nickname for Isaac though and the popularity of that puts me off. Lucius is a great alternative to Luke and Lucas.

I like Archie but the ‘bald’ part of Archibald has always put me off.

Dorsey reminds me of Darcey, which to me if very feminine sounding.

While I’m personally not a huge fan of Willis, I do see it’s appeal and I think it would be a great alternative to William.

I quite like Hardy, especially when I think of it as a surname gone first name. However, I struggle to see past the ‘hard’ part and I feel like it would sound like I’d named my child something to make them sound tough (in a over exaggerated way rather than a good way).

Hamilton is too much of a surname for me, it just doesn’t sound right as a first name. Plus Hammy is the name of a hamster and other nickname alternative, Milly, is far too feminine. Perhaps Tony? But who wants to name their child Tony in 2016!?

I’m unsure about Booker. I don’t dislike it but I don’t think it’s really my style. I prefer Brooks or Luca.

keelyjoelle Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 6:36 am

I love Grover, I like Ike ? and I like Hamilton, but I’m not sure on it. I would call him Hamilton with no nicknames. Maybe Hammy as a pet name.

boyandgirl Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 8:49 am

I’m loving Hardy and Archibald!

GreenEyes375 Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 10:44 am

Willis is my Mother’s maiden name, and while I have considered using it, my mom’s cousin already did in honour of her grandpa (who was my great grandpa).

Lucius is another name I like from this list, though I do prefer Lucien/Lucian slightly more. Grover is also a name I will forever associate with Percy Jackson’s satyr bestfriend, so while I do see the appeal I could never take it seriously on a child.

Hardy is another one I would like to see around though. I read a very well written book a few years back and the lead male was named Hardy. It does remind me of Hardy’s (a food chain here in the US), but I still think it’s a very strong name.

I cannot see Archibald or Hamilton working at this point in time. I have never ever seen the appeal of Archie as a nickname, and I personally like to steer clear of names with bald. I am going to have to agree with previous commentors about Hammy being the only logical nn for Hamilton, so I can’t really see it working unless the patents pressed that the boy was just Hamilton.

Cnewell Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Hardy has been in our top 5! Neat to see it on this list!

bananie21 Says:

July 15th, 2016 at 7:08 pm

I like Hardy and Booker. I had to laugh when I saw Dorsey. That is my 65 year old boss’s name and I couldn’t imagine a baby with his name. Also, it’s Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, not Johnny! Lol…. The Dorsey brothers were cousins of my Great Grandmother 🙂

mommytomany Says:

July 16th, 2016 at 6:44 am

It’s not a favorite of mine but Archibald always reminds me of the great Archibald Leach, also known as Cary Grant 🙂

auntanne1122 Says:

July 16th, 2016 at 8:23 am

Doyle and Ike are my favorites of the lot. Vintage names are a guilty pleasure of mine.

I like Hamilton but would never use it because of the definite nn Hammy. Also, Archibald has too many teasing opportunities along with Dorsey i.e. Dork, Dorky ….

LuMary Says:

July 17th, 2016 at 3:33 pm

I like a number of these, especially Doyle and Booker. Great vintage visuals. Alas, the childhood of a simpler America.

LuMary Says:

July 17th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Hamilton can be called Milt.

Chloe14 Says:

July 20th, 2016 at 8:45 am

I really like Hardy! And I actually quite like Dorsey, too.

charlesokuku Says:

December 11th, 2016 at 7:07 am

The name Doyle is good for a girl. One can use it at the same time you can check out for more names on our site

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