This first instalment is taking a look at 1880 and seeing the names that made the top 10 of that year.
Mary – (pronounced either MAR-ee or MER-ee) was given to 7,065 baby girls in 1880, five thousand more than the next name. The meaning is not known for certain, but it is of Hebrew origin and is believed to mean ‘bitter’. Not a very flattering meaning but if taken from the Egyptian name that it is also derived from, it means ‘beloved’ or ‘loved’. It became popular in the Christian world due to the Virgin Mary and currently rests at #112 on the charts and was given as a name to 2,671 baby girls in America in 2011. It is not ranked at all however in England/Wales or Australia though it is ranked #60 in Ireland.
|Mary E. Harding, English|
Anna – (pronounced AN-a) was given to 2,064 in 1880. Still a popular name today, resting at #38 in 2011 with actually more baby girls given the name (5,601 to be exact). It is a sweet name of Hebrew origin with the meaning ‘grace’. I would say that it is also a popular middle name as well. It is ranked #63 in England/Wales and #58 in Australia and is interesting #1 in Austria.
Emma – (pronounced EM-ah) was given to 2,003 baby girls in 1880 and is funnily enough also resting at #3 in the charts in 2011 after a dip in popularity during the 70s and 80s. Though nearly nine times as many babies were given the name (18, 674 in total) now than in 1880 [considering the number of babies born then to now as well and the wider variety of names we have now as well] is still an extremely popular though timeless name of German origin meaning ‘universal’. It is also ranked #48 in England/Wales and #17 in Australia.
Elizabeth – (pronounced i-LIZ-a-beth) is a timeless name that has been given to Queens and movie stars alike. 1,939 baby girls where given that name in 1880 and it is still a popular name today, resting at #11 in US, #49 in England/Wales and #44 in Australia. It is of Hebrew origin and means ‘pledged to God’.
Minnie – (pronounced MIN-ee) is a diminutive of Wilhelmina and does not currently rank in the United States but in 1880 it was ranked #5 with 1,746 babies given the name. A German name that means ‘resolute protection’ it is a shame that this name does not get more use. It was not even given to five babies in the US in the last year and with diminutive names taking a rise in the charts, hopefully this name will pop up again though there might be some connotations with the beloved Disney character Minnie Mouse that may stop parents from using the name. It was last seen on the US charts in 1971.
Margaret – (pronounced MAHR-grit) is the name of a Saint and has been the name of Queens and in 1880 it was given to 1,578 baby girls as their first name. The name is still popular today, ranked at #187 with 1,681 girls given the name, which is not a wild difference considering the difference in the times. It is of Greek origin and means ‘pearl’.
Ida – (pronounced – IE-dah) was a popular name back in the 1880s with 1,472 baby girls given the name but nowadays it does not have a place on the charts at all, not having been there since 1984. However, unlike Minnie, 92 baby girls were given the name in 2011 so maybe there is still hope for this name of German origin, which means ‘industrious one’.
Alice – (pronounced AL-is) is a name that most people team up with the heroine in the Alice in Wonderland series but Alice has been a popular and sweet choice for a long time and has even been thrust upon a member of the British royalty in the past. In 1880, it was given to 1,414 baby girls and now it currently rests at #142 in the US (2,181 baby girls), #43 in England/Wales and #48 in Australia. It is also currently ranked #1 in Sweden and #8 in Italy. It is of German origin as well and means ‘noble’.
Bertha – (pronounced BER-thah) is a name of German origin that mean ‘bright, glorious’. Back in the 1880s, it was given to 1,320 baby girls as their first name but in 2011, only 45 girls were given the name and it does not currently rank in the top 1000. This is one of those clunky, vintage names that are chic right now and I think she would fit in with any little Edith’s or Sybil’s (let’s bring her onto Downton Abbey).
Sarah – (pronounced SER-ah) is a name that I hear quite a lot as is the year of my birth it was ranked in the Top 5 but in 1880 it was ranked 10th with 1,288 girls given the name. It is of Hebrew origin with the meaning ‘princess’. It is currently ranked #39 in America with 5,472 babies given the name and is also ranked #83 in England/Wales, #21 in Canada, #31 in Australia, #2 in Austria behind Anna and #4 in Ireland.
John – (pronounced JAHN) is a name that has never broken the Top 30 in America since 1880 and in that year, it was number 1 with 9,655 baby boys given the name. There is a timeless quality of the name that is of Hebrew origin and means ‘God is Gracious’. It currently sits at #27 in the US with 10,934 boys given the name. In England/Wales it is ranked #94, Canada #56, Ireland #22 and Australia #77.
|John Singer Sargent c.1880-83|
William – (pronounced WIL-ee-am) is a name that has been engrained in popular culture ever since the time of William the Conqueror. In 1880, it was ranked #2 with 9,533 baby boys, only falling short by just over one hundred names to take top spot. The name’s origin is England from German and means ‘resolute protection’. The name is currently ranked #3 in the US with 17,151 boys given the name and this seems to be on the rise thanks to the Duke of Cambridge. In England/Wales it is ranked #7 and in Australia, Denmark and Sweden it is currently #1 and in Norway it is #2.
James – (pronounced JAYMZ) is a classic name that was given to 5,927 baby boys in 1880. It is of Hebrew origin and it means ‘supplanter’. In the US, it currently sits at #17 with 13,133 baby boys born in 2011 while in England/Wales it sits at #10, Australia #12 and Northern Ireland and Scotland both have it at #3.
Charles – (pronounced CHAHR-lz) is a French name derived from the German name Karl. It was given to 5,348 baby boys in 1880 and is now ranked at #62 in the States with 6,898 boys given the name. It has the meaning of ‘free man’ and is currently ranked #62 in England/Wales and #73 in Australia.
George – (pronounced JORJ) is a Greek name meaning ‘farmer’ and in 1880, 5,126 boys were deemed worthy of the name. Nowadays, it sits at #165 with 2,296 boys given the name in States. In England/Wales it is ranked #9 and in Australia it is ranked #57.
Frank – (pronounced FRANGK) is probably the least popular nowadays of the 1880 top 10 boys names but in 1880 it was popular and was the name of 3,242 new baby boys. Today it sits at #308 with 1,038 boys given the name. It is not ranked in England/Wales or Australia. It does have some charm though and I can see sometime in the future it inching its way back up the charts thanks to its Old Hollywood street flare, thanks to Frank Sinatra, which is a popular thing now, and also has the clunky, vintage vibe about it.
Joseph – (pronounced JO-sef) is of Hebrew origin and mean ‘Jehovah increases’. With the standard no-nonsense nickname Joe, in 1880, it was given to 2,632 baby boys as their first name. Nowadays, it sits at #22 in America with 12,798 boys given the name. In England/Wales the name is ranked #15 and in Australia it is ranked #43.
Thomas – (pronounced TAHM-es) is an Aramaic name meaning ‘twin’. In 1880, it was given to 2,534 baby boys as their first name and in 2011, it sits at #63 with 6,853 boys given the name. It is currently ranked #6 in England/Wales, #8 in Australia, #4 in Belgium and #8 in the Netherlands.
Henry – (pronounced HEN-ree) is a name that has staying power and it has real power behind the name as well, with eight Kings of England going by that name as well as four French Kings who went by the French version of the name Henri. It is of German background and means ‘estate ruler’ and was given to 2.444 baby boys in 1880. Today it sits at #57 with 7,166 boys given the name. It is also ranked #34 in England/Wales and #39 in Australia.
Robert – (pronounced RAH-bert) is an English name derived from German that means ‘bright flame’. It has been a long standing name throughout history with Kings of France and Scotland both bearing the name. A favourite nickname for me of this name is Robin, this was the pet name of Elizabeth I favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was given to 2,415 baby boys in 1880 and currently sits at #61 with 6,904 boys given the name. It also just makes the top 100 in Canada at #100, in England/Wales it is #90, Australia it does not rank and is currently #58 in Scotland.