Why Your Daughter Isn't Named Blodwen

Pink baby bootiesOdds are, you didn’t decide that the perfect name for your daughter was Blodwen. It is also unlikely that your son is named Cyril. Believe it or not, those names were once very popular in England and Wales. Over time, there have been fewer babies that were given these historic names. Maybe your ancestors had those names. Your great great grandchildren, however, will likely be given a name that fits into their time.

In an article at The Guardian, George Arnett took a close look at the data that noted what the most popular names were, for girls or boys, in a given year. The original data came from Ancestry.com.uk. Many names have greatly declined in popularity. Others remain popular to this day.

Some families have a tradition of naming their children after one of their ancestors. Not all families have that tradition. A parent today could just as easily select a name for their son or daughter because the name was popular around the time that the child was born.

The data from Ancestry.co.uk took note of the number of babies that were given a particular name each year. The information was gathered from babies that were born in England or Wales. They described the following names as “extinct”: Cecil, Rowland, and Willie (for boys). The “extinct” names for girls included: Bertha, Blodwen, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie, and Muriel. What does “extinct” mean in this context? It means that there were zero babies who were given any of those names in 2012.

In 1905, the five most popular names for boys were: William, John, George, Thomas, and James. A total of 63 boys, out of every 1,000 male births, was given the name William. The five most popular names for girls in 1905 were: Mary, Annie, Elizabeth, Elsie, and Doris. Only four girls in 2012 were given the name Doris. The name is described as having “almost dropped off the radar”.

There are some historic names that were still commonly given to babies in 2012. For boys, Harry was the most popular name in 2012. There were 19 boys, out of every 1,000 births that year, who were named Harry. That’s quite a change from 1905, when Harry was the twelfth most popular name for boys. The rest of the list includes: Oliver, Jack, Charlie, and Jacob.

The traditional name of Amelia was the top name for girls in 2012. The popularity of the name Amelia increased by over 1,000% since 1905. The rest of the list includes: Emily, Isabella, Grace, and Charlotte. The names Isabella and Grace also saw a big increase in prevalence in 2012 (as compared to how often that name was given to girls in 1905).

In short, your daughter isn’t name Blodwen because the name ceased to be popular by the time she was born. Parents who are seeking an unusual or unique name might consider Blodwen. She would be the only kid in school with that name!

Image by Marie Smith on Flickr.

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