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Martha or Florence or...

(31 Posts)
sophiepumpkin Wed 29-Jun-16 07:17:40

I have always loved Martha but as my due date nears I have met a few and feel anxious it's not as special as it needs to be! Florence is a top favourite but I was hoping for some more suggestions. We have a Hugo so nothing too 'posh' sounding to save me feeling foolish at the swings!

BikeRunSki Wed 29-Jun-16 07:19:31

Hugo and Florence sounds very 'posh' to me!

Harriet, Beatrice?

Sophronia Wed 29-Jun-16 08:29:41

I love Martha!



sophiepumpkin Wed 29-Jun-16 10:37:28

I love Violet, also Beatrice but that feels quite posh with Hugo. Probably silly getting hung up on that, they won't be together forever!

NavyAndWhite Wed 29-Jun-16 17:39:54

Love both.
Probably would choose Florence though.
What about India or Cassia?

Floggingmolly Wed 29-Jun-16 17:41:05

Martha is lovely.

nectarini1983 Wed 29-Jun-16 20:52:15

Yuck to Martha and Florence - really can't see what the fuss is with these names or why they're so popular. Both so bland and dull imo.

I like India and Cassia as suggested above.

Mabel may be up your street?

Yika Wed 29-Jun-16 20:55:47

I love Martha.


SavoyCabbage Wed 29-Jun-16 20:58:39

Martha is so dowdy. I don't see it as posh at all and so it doesn't 'go' with Hugo at all to me.

CodewordRochambeau Wed 29-Jun-16 22:46:16

Florence is much more popular than Martha in my experience.

JenniferAnistonsHair Thu 30-Jun-16 03:11:39

I think Martha & Florence are both lovely.

What about Meredith, Xanthe, Iris, Genevieve, Lucille or Camille?

sophiepumpkin Thu 30-Jun-16 09:16:43

Eek! I think in general Martha is winning. The dowdy/dull comments put me off a little but there will always be a few who don't like I suppose.
I'm going to look for a slightly more thrilling middle name for her to spice it up a little, currently like Wren and Clementine. Would love to hear thoughts.

The suggestions so far are great. Thanks everyone

Yika Thu 30-Jun-16 21:00:41

I also like Florence.

Why not Martha Florence, which is a really nice combination?

I find Wren and Clementine are very much of their time and will go out of fashion quickly (don't know if that bothers you).

Martha Tamsin
Martha Fleur
Martha Selena

bingisthebest Thu 30-Jun-16 21:08:25

I have a Martha she is fab full of character and far from dull.
People that don't like don't like it ifyswim.

sophiepumpkin Fri 01-Jul-16 10:37:26

I like to think my Martha will also be fun and full of character, with a hint of bohemian...I'm thinking more Martha Wainwright than Stewart grin

I'll be on the hunt for a pretty and feminine sounding middle name from now on, Florence and Faye are in the running as well as the others above.

NavyAndWhite Fri 01-Jul-16 10:40:17

Martha Delphine
Martha Cecily
Martha Constance

Why not wait till she's here and see if you looks like a Martha?

wobblywonderwoman Fri 01-Jul-16 10:44:43

I like Martha

Eloise is lovely. Catherine.

AvonCallingBarksdale Sat 02-Jul-16 18:34:27

Martha and Florence are both lovely - not dowdy at all hmm

WolfAmMo Sun 03-Jul-16 01:02:09

I also have a Hugo and I loveeee the names Martha and Florence!!! If DC3 had have been a girl she would have been Clara.

MitzyLeFrouf Sun 03-Jul-16 03:11:49

Martha and Florence sound a bit dowdy to me too. Sorry.

Hugo and Florence
Hugo and Martha

It's all very 'Telegraph birth announcement'. I like Clare and Tamsin from previous suggestions.

sophiepumpkin Sun 03-Jul-16 07:51:17

Tamsin is pretty, if a little 'chick flick' and Clare I personally find a bit run of the mill.

I don't read the Telegraph so I wouldn't know!

toadgirl Fri 29-Jul-16 22:00:20


Gentle, steady and modest Martha was a staple in
Britain for over 300 years. Once again, she is winning over the
hearts of British parents who are looking for a homely antique.


A Latin transliteration of the Greek Μάρθα (Martha), which first appears as a given name in the New Testament. The Greek form is thought to be a translation of the Aramaic (specifically Chaldean) word מרתא (martā). The term originates as a feminine form of מרי (mry) "master," and so has the approximate meaning of "mistress," "lady," or "lady of the house"— much like the Latin domina.

That Martha of Bethany in the New Testament was given this name is highly appropriate. The Book of Luke tells the story of when Jesus visited the home of sisters, Martha and Mary. Mary chooses to honour their guest by sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to his teachings; Martha (the "lady of the house") busies herself around the house in order to ensure that Jesus is comfortable. She was later made a saint, and her reputation as an industrious and attentive person made her the patroness of homemakers, cooks, servants, and all those who tend the sick and needy.


Legend has it that Martha and her family travelled to Provence, and later Tarascon in France. There Martha, it is said, encountered a fearsome dragon that plagued the local people. She managed to tame the creature, and received the title "St. Martha the Dragonslayer" in turn. Her shrine is situated in Tarascon, and became the focus of her cult in the Middle Ages.

A few examples of Martha in use as a given name crop up across Europe in the Middle Ages but, for the most part, they are rare. In some cases the name was borne by medieval Scandinavian nobility (including a Queen of Sweden), but some of these examples appear to have been conflated with variants of Margaret.* In England, a handful of examples can be found in Canterbury between 1377-81.

Usage of the name really kicked off at the end of the 16th century and steadily rose over the succeeding century. This upward curve is very clearly demonstrated in Smith-Bannister's frequency tables of 1538—1700. Martha ranked #40 in 1560-9, #26 in 1580-9, #20 in 1600-9, #15 in 1620-9, #14 in 1640-9, #9 in 1660-9, #8 in 1680-9.

The high usage of Martha led naturally to the need for diminutives. Matty was the first to be used for Martha, which in turn led to Patty and then Patsy. These nicknames were in widespread and standard use by the 18th century (Thomas Jefferson's daughters, for example, were Martha "Patsy" and Mary "Polly").

The name was still highly popular throughout the 19th century, and only began to decline toward the beginning of the 20th century. In England and Wales Martha ranked at #30 in 1890, #44 in 1900, #64 in 1904 and #84 in 1914 — after which it fell out of the Top 100. In Scotland, Martha ranked #19 in 1900 and was just hanging on in the Top 100 at #95 in 1950.

In recent years however, Martha has been enjoying a popular revival. Back in 1996 Martha ranked #214 (198 births) in England and Wales. It gradually picked up usage until, in 2005, it ranked #110 (456 births). That same year, lively Martha MacKenzie (2005-2010) debuted as a character on popular TV soap Home and Away, which may have helped boost Martha into the Top 100: #96 in 2006, #87 in 2007, #81 in 2008 and 2009, and #85 in 2010.

In 2011, Martha ranked #83 overall with 723 births. Individually that equates to #87 in England and #66 in Wales

In Scotland Martha ranked #133 (38 births) in 2009, #116 (42 births) in 2010 and #116 (38 births) in 2011.

Famous Bearers:


* St Martha of Bethany, a woman who witnessed Jesus' resurrection.
* St Martha, mother of Simeon Stylites the Younger, saint in the Eastern Orthodox church.
* Martha of Armagnac (c.1348—1378), daughter of John I of Armagnac.
* Martha Washington (1731—1802), wife of George Washington.
* Martha Gellhorn (1908—1998), notable American novelist, travel writer, and journalist.


* Martha of Sweden (c.1277—1341), influential queen consort of King Birger of Sweden.
* Princess Märtha of Sweden (1901—1954), granddaughter of King Oscar II of Sweden and the consort of Crown Prince Olav of Norway.
* Princess Märtha Louise of Norway (b.1971), daughter of King Harald V and fourth in line to the Norwegian throne.

Literature and Other Media:

* Martha (1844), a romantic comic opera by Friedrich von Flotow.
* Martha (1923), a short film made by Walt Disney.
* Martha My Dear (1968), a Beatles song written by Paul McCartney
* Martha Jones, a companion of the Doctor in Doctor Who.
* Martha MacKenzie, a character on Australian soap Home and Away.


* Martha's Vineyard, an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.


Marthe (French, German), Marta (Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish), Martta (Finnish)


MAR-thə [key]


Mari, Marty, Matty, Patsy, Pattie, Patty

toadgirl Fri 29-Jul-16 22:02:42


Stately and sweet, Florence is a proper little lady.
It isn't a royal name -- but it feels like it should be.


Florence is the Anglicised form of both the Roman names Florentius and Florentia, meaning "belonging to Florens," which was a common Roman cognomen. Florens itself means "blossoming," derived from floreo meaning "to blossom, flower, flourish."

Florence is also the English name given to the Italian city of Firenze. There are several theories as to how the city came by its name. The most plausible are either that it derived from the Latin Colonia Florentia meaning "flowering colony" (possibly as a figurative term) or that it was a corruption of Fluentia -- from fluens "to flow" -- owing to the fact that it was situated between two rivers.


In the Middle Ages, Florence was used as both a masculine and a feminine name, most likely thanks to its use by saints or to denote a person being "of Florence". There are several Saints Florentius, including a 3rd century Roman martyr, and a St Florentia (d. c. 303). Latinised forms included Florentius, Florentia and Florencia, though all were called by the vernacular Florence.

Also in use was similar Floria, derived from the Old French flur "flower," which were used in the vernacular form Flur/Fluri and often used with the epithet 'sweet'. Florkin was used as a diminutive.

Florence was never wildly common, but it was used enough for it to engender the surname Florence. Notable namesakes include Florence of Worcester (d. 1118), a renowned monk and chronicler, Florence (or Floris) of Holland (d.1210), a 13th century nobleman and cleric, and Florence Wilson "Florentius Volusenus" (c. 1504–1547), a Scottish humanist.

After the 15th century, Florence became far less common as a masculine name, but it maintained better use as a female name. There were exceptions of course, which mostly depended on local area. In Midlothian, Cumbria and Hereford, for example, it clung on as a masculine name for quite a while and eve in my poll of the most popular Elizabethan Norfolk names, Florence was only used once -- for a male.

Overall however, Florence became more common for girls, especially among the peerage. For example, Florence Poulett (b.1612), daughter of politician John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett had a niece named after her, which was then passed down from mother to daughter for several generations.

In his top 50 rankings from 1538-1700, Smith Bannister lists Florence four times for girls: 1590-9: #38; 1600-9: #47; 1610-9: #44; 1640-9: #47.

In Ireland, Florence was maintained for much longer as a masculine name thanks to its being used to render several Irish names such as Flaithrí and Fingin. Notable examples include Fláithrí Ó Maolchonaire "Florence Conroy" (1560– 1629), an Irish Franciscan and theologian and Florence "Flurry" Knox, a pub landlord in the novel Some Experiences of an Irish RM (1899) by Somerville and Ross.

In the first half of the 19th century, Florence was in moderate use. Initially wasn't especially popular -- it doesn't appear in Dunkling's top 50 girls names for England and Wales in 1700, 1800 or 1850 -- but it was used continually, and still occasionally for boys.

Dickens used the name for his character Florence Dombey in Dombey and Son (1846) which seems to have given the name considerable boost, and author Elizabeth Gaskell named one of her daughters Florence Elizabeth in 1842. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was so named because she was born in the city of Florence in Italy, as was and this was perhaps the influence for other parents as Florence was a fashionable destination for wealthy English Victorians.

A further boost to Florence's fortune came with the event of the Crimean War from 1853-1856. Parents clamoured to give their children eventful names. Battles led to several babies being named Alma, Balaklava, Inkerman, and Sebastopol and names notable figures were also used. Thanks to her part in the war effort and her being used as by the British government as a poster girl, Florence Nightingale became an overnight sensation and national treasure.

Births in England and Wales:
1838: 26 births
1840: 21 births (at least 3 males)
1842: 63 births (at least 5 males)
1844: 50 births
1846: 86 births -- The year Dombey and Sons was published.
1848: 256 births
1850: 247 births
1852: 398 births
1854: 545 births -- The year Florence Nightingale went to the Crimea.
1856: 1677 births
1858: 1522 births

1881 Florence
Click to enlarge
As we can see, effect of both Dickens and Florence Nightingale the name Florence was marked and it went from strength to strength.
From not ranking in the top 50 in 1850, it was #14 by 1870, #6 in 1880, #3 in 1890, and #2 in 1900. Data from the 1881 census shows that it was most prevalent in England, especially in the southern counties, though it did reach #49 in Scotland by 1900.

It maintained it's popularity initially in the 20th century, but gradually began to decline. It was #2 in 1904, #6 in 1914, #23 in 1924 and #49 in 1934, after which it fell out of the top 100.

This can be seen in Dunkling's data for the number of girls registered with the name in every 10,000 births in England and Wales over the 20th century:

1900 1925 1935 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990
394 142 44 10 4 - - 4 - - 6 -

Births for FlorenceFrom 1996 to 2003, Florence bobbed along comfortably in the bottom quarter of the top 200 in England and Wales. It gradually began to pick up from 2004, bursting into the top 100 in 2008 at #94. Since then it has risen steeply, ranking #54 in 2010, #34 in 2012 and #29 in 2013.

As it was in the 19th century, Florence proves it's still very much an English rose.

Individually, Florence is much less popular in Wales than England (#71 in 2013 compared to #29 in England) while it has yet to reach the top 100 in Scotland and Northern Ireland in recent years

In Scotland, the name has ranked consistently between #100-#300: #233 in 2010, #142 in 2011, #203 in 2012 and #155 in 2013.

In Northern Ireland, Florence has had no more than 8 births in any given year, peaking at #229 in 2012 and ranking #284 in 2013.

Famous Bearers:


* Florence of Worcester (d. 1118), a renowned monk and chronicler.
* Florence Wilson "Florentius Volusenus" (c. 1504–1547), a Scottish humanist.
* Fláithrí Ó Maolchonaire "Florence Conroy" (1560– 1629), an Irish Franciscan and theologian.
* Florence Caddy (1837–1923), English writer.
* Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), pioneer of modern nursing.
* Florence LaBadie (1888-1917), Canadian silent movie actress.
* Florence Lawrence (1890-1938), inventor and actress, referred to as "The First Movie Star."
* Florence Marjorie Robertson "Dame Anna Neagle" (1904-1986), British actress and singer.


* Florence Bjelke-Petersen (b.1920) Australian politician and writer.
* Florence Henderson (b.1934), American actress and singer.
* Florence King (b.1936), American author.
* Florence Welch (b.1986), British singer and frontwoman of Florence & the Machine.

Literature and Other Media:

* Florence Dombey, a charcter in Dicken's novel Dombey and Son (1846).
* Florence "Flurry" Knox, a pub landlord in the novel Some Experiences of an Irish RM (1899) by Somerville and Ross.

Variants: Florentine, Florentina; Florentia, Florentius (Late Roman), Florenz (German), Floor, Floris (Dutch), Fiorenza, Fiorenzo (Italian)

toadgirl Fri 29-Jul-16 22:04:56


Ranked 26 in 2014


Ranked 69 in 2014

So, Florence is much more popular than Martha.

Hope this helps smile

toadgirl Fri 29-Jul-16 22:06:33

Martha Lily?

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