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50 or 100 years ago naming babies was a lot simplier?

(24 Posts)
sweetkitty Sun 04-Oct-09 10:48:00

You were named after a relative or a saint.

There were about 20 common names and that was it, a few outlandish names but most people were called Mary, Anne, Sarah, Catherine, Elizabeth, John, James, Archie, Willian, David names like that.

You had 4 or more people with the same name in the same family.

No "oh we cannot have that there will be 4 in the same class!"

No weird made up, funny spellings, no celeb names, no one wanted a unique name.

I think I am harking back to that time, am about to start the process of naming my fourth daughter. Maybe I will just call her Mary.

lljkk Sun 04-Oct-09 10:49:24

I quite like Mary!! Rosemary was a fave for DC4 (who turned out to be boy).

Cortina Sun 04-Oct-09 11:45:44

As someone with a keen interest in family history unusual names make it easier to find people. Bring them on!

If you go back to the 1880s and are looking for a William Smith you have a huge task in hand.

I think names, the pattern of naming, etc are fascinating and even more so back then. If someone had an unusual name it said so much about their parents/family.

ZZZenAgain Sun 04-Oct-09 11:53:06

I think I agree with you sweetkitty. If I had a dc these days, I would be looking for a very similar straight-forward traditional English name.

No Merlin, Kay-cee or Constantia

Just Anne or Paul, that kind of thing. maybe I've just read too many name threads

lucky1979 Sun 04-Oct-09 12:27:17

We have several men called Cornelius in our family tree, no idea how common it was in the 1800s (Obviously the Romans were quite keen on it) but haven't come across any others when investigate all the other bits of the fmaily tree.

I suppose Cornelius would be Neil nowadays so maybe not so strange.

lucky1979 Sun 04-Oct-09 12:27:18

We have several men called Cornelius in our family tree, no idea how common it was in the 1800s (Obviously the Romans were quite keen on it) but haven't come across any others when investigate all the other bits of the fmaily tree.

I suppose Cornelius would be Neil nowadays so maybe not so strange.

bran Sun 04-Oct-09 12:34:56

I don't think that's true. There were some truly weird Victorian names. One of my Grandmother's friends died a while ago (aged about 90 I think). She was always known as Rita but it turned out that the funeral that her real name was Anchoreeta. So obviously odd name giving isn't a new thing.

ZZZenAgain Sun 04-Oct-09 12:39:34

That's an interesting name, have never come across that one before

Cortina Sun 04-Oct-09 13:17:04

To Bran, no you are right, it certainly isn't new but it wasn't widespread in the way it is now.

Certain names were popular in certain areas but some families seemed to 'broken' the naming norms of the time. Fascinating.

MrsBadger Sun 04-Oct-09 14:01:47


we are thinking of calling this one John

MANATEEequineOHARA Sun 04-Oct-09 14:12:03

I work in a family history do get some crazy names. Like Pleasant. Her surname was Harbour! They don't do strange names so often, but they did happen.

Sometimes it is annoying (at work) when families use the same name so much. And although it was v. common to name a baby after a deceased sibling, there have been instances at work when 2 living siblings in the same household have had the same name! The most recent one was 2 boys, they were the only children at the time, so I suppose they thought naming was very easy, 'that name worked for the first child, we will just use it again!'.

sweetkitty Sun 04-Oct-09 15:39:08

Must just be our family then, you were called after your uncle, aunt or Dad and that was that, my Mum was the last of six and they had run out of names so called her after the month.

Nowadays it seems more common to honour a relative with a middle name Chanelle Anne, Beyonce Mary!

hannahsaunt Sun 04-Oct-09 15:46:15

Yes - I've had dreadful trouble making up our family tree with relatives naming multiple children the same name in lieu of the one just predeceased. Most inconvenient!

notagrannyyet Sun 04-Oct-09 20:17:00

Yes I've had that trouble too hannahsaunt.

I've come across some lovely names and some very strange one in our family,

Male..Theophilius, Threopletas, Beacefer/Beucefer, and Partridge. Also lots of old biblical names some of which are becoming popluar.

female..Hagar, Zyilia, Keziah. These do sound made-up to me. Also there were lots of Fannys, nn for Hannah but even so!

notagrannyyet Sun 04-Oct-09 20:24:53

We also had a little baby Napoleon (in1816) I would have thought Nelson would have been more appropriate.

SussexVille Mon 05-Oct-09 01:29:10

Notagranny - Hagar and Keziah are Old Testament names (Hagar was Abraham's maid and gave birth to his son Ishmael; Keziah was one of Job's daughters). Don't know about Zyilia, tho'.

Fanny used to be a popular shortening for Frances (e.g. Fanny Burney, the 18th-century the novelist).

I have read that in the 16th/17th centuries, Puritans used to pick their children's names by sticking a pin in the Bible and choosing whatever word/phrase this landed on (they were 'guided by God', of course). Thus you could end up with a child called 'Of the' or 'Abundance of'. Or whatever. (I daresay even 'Sodom' or 'Gomorrah'.)

But I think that story is probably apocryphal.

Pyrocanthus Mon 05-Oct-09 23:14:21

Mary's lovely, and there aren't many of them about.

notagrannyyet Tue 06-Oct-09 19:09:01

Thanks Sussexville that's very interesting. I must listen more carefully to the readings in church!

AvengingGerbil Tue 06-Oct-09 19:14:35

I have a few Zipporahs and a Kerrenhappuch and several Mahalas in my family tree. All biblical, I think (and nonconformist Victorian families).

But nearly all the boys were called George, Henry, William or John.

Pyrocanthus Tue 06-Oct-09 20:43:42

During the course of my work this afternoon I came across a Victorian gentleman called Bobus Smith.

DuelingFANGo Tue 06-Oct-09 20:46:02

my mum is 60 and she was named after the midwife.

DuelingFANGo Tue 06-Oct-09 20:55:45

Just looking at my family tree now:

I have James, Caroline, Colston, Fanny, Jessie, John, Henry, Miriam, Sarah, Elizabeth, Ashley, Eleanor, Peter, Brian, Lawrence, Alicia, Ann, Robert, William, Sussana, Sara, Henry, Elsie, Arther (sp), Ernrst, Ida, Harry, Hugh, Dorothea, Dorothy, Roy, Kathleen, Gertrude, Sydney, Isabella, Harriett, Job, Stanley, and bertram to name a few!

GrendelsMum Wed 07-Oct-09 12:30:09

or here's a lovely lot I picked from just one page in the 1871 census for our village:

Feodora (alternative spellings come into fashion!)

Berthy and Randle, you may be interested to know, are both boys.

I'm hoping that Acber is a mis-transcription of Arthur.

I'm really, really homing that their was no little girl called Lama either!

GrendelsMum Wed 07-Oct-09 12:31:12

oops, that should be 'hoping'.

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