Throwback Thursday: Waltzing With … Florence


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This blog post was first published on May 29 2011, and almost completely rewritten on May 28 2015.

Famous Namesake
Autumn is the traditional time of year for farm produce fairs, and on the last Sunday in May is held the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival. Goomeri is a small country town in southern Queensland; quiet and pleasant, it is known for its gourmet food industries.

The highlight of the Goomeri calendar is its Pumpkin Festival, in which they do almost everything to pumpkins, including eat them. There is the pumpkin shot-put, a pumpkin beer brewing competition, pumpkin judging contests, and the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll, in which up to 1000 pumpkins are rolled down Policeman’s Hill. There will of course be cooking demonstrations, food stalls, and all kinds of pumpkin-related culinary delights, including that old favourite, pumpkin scones.

When you see “pumpkin scones” and “Queensland” in the same paragraph, the name of only one person can come to mind – Florence Bjelke-Petersen. The widow of Queensland’s longest-serving Premier, Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen has been a force in conservative politics, a part of Queensland history, and an Australian icon.

Florence was the wife of peanut farmer and Country Party member Johannes “Joh” Bjelke-Petersen, and after Joh became Premier of Queensland in 1968, Florence began to take on a bigger public role. The Queensland National Party increasingly promoted a Bjelke-Petersen “personality cult”, and Florence was a vital part of that.

Her down-to-earth sayings and common-sense attitudes became widely quoted by the media, and she published a cookbook which contained a recipe for her famous pumpkin scones. She was a Senator from 1981-1993; she worked for issues that affected Queensland and was popular with both sides of politics. When Joh Bjelke-Petersen was knighted in 1984, she became Lady Bjelke-Petersen – affectionately known as Lady Flo.

Lady Bjelke-Petersen is now in her nineties and still going strong. Although she no longer makes pumpkin scones, she reads the newspapers every day and has strong opinions on politics, as well as attending church every Sunday, and playing the organ each week for a local nursing home. In her youth, she always vowed she would be known by her full name, Florence, as she hated the short name Flo, but history intervened, and as often happens, she didn’t get much say in it.

Name Information
Florence began as the medieval English form of the Latin name Florentius, from florens, “flowering, flourishing, prospering”. There are several saints named Florentius, with the earliest being a 3rd century Roman soldier who was martyred in Italy. Florence could also be used as a French form of the female name Florentia; St Florentia was a 4th century hermit who was martyred in France.

In the Middle Ages, Florence was used as a name for both males and females, but by the 16th century had become overwhelmingly feminine in usage. Its connection with “flowering”, and similarity to the female name Flora were probably responsible.

Although the name Florence was already in reasonable use, it received a huge boost in the mid nineteenth century because of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Florence Nightingale came to prominence during the Crimean War of 1853-56, when she was hailed as a ministering angel, and called The Lady with the Lamp. It is notable that during the 1850s, the name Florence, which was steadily increasing in popularity at the time, suddenly skyrocketed, and continued rising for the rest of the century.

Florence Nightingale was born in the city of Florence, in Italy, and named after her birthplace. It was something of a family pattern, because her older sister, Frances Parthenope, was similarly named after the place of her birth, Parthenopolis, now part of Naples.

The city of Florence was established by the Romans, and originally namedFluentia, meaning “flowing” in Latin, because it was situated between two rivers – the Arno and the Greve. Later its name was corrupted to Florentia, meaning, as we already know, “flowering, flourishing”. Its new name suited it, because the city did indeed flourish and prosper, and by the 15th century was one of the largest and wealthiest cities of Europe. It is considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, and called “The Athens of the Middle Ages”; a beautiful city rich in history and culture, famous for its Renaissance art and architecture.

The name Florence was #5 in the 1900s, and fell until it left the Top 100 in the 1940s. It disappeared from the charts in the 1960s, making a minor comeback in the 1990s at #800, before dropping off the charts again in the early 2000s. In the late 2000s, Florence returned at #528 – this was the time that British indie band Florence + the Machine began its career, headed by flame-haired lead vocalist Florence Welch (Florence’s mother is a Professor of Renaissance Studies, so perhaps she was named with the Italian city in mind).

Since then, Florence has continued to rise, and is now in the 100s, almost certainly headed for the Top 100; it joined the New Zealand Top 100 in 2013. In the UK, Florence is even more popular, rising steadily through the 1990s to join the Top 100 in 2008, and is currently #29 and still rising. In the US, Florence hasn’t charted since the early 1980s; however the name is steadily rising, and last year 182 baby girls were given the name Florence.

Fashionable Florence is rising under the influence of British trends, and making friends everywhere – even people who profess to detest place names on people will forgivingly make an exception for Florence. As lovely as a Renaissance statue and as wholesome as pumpkin scones fresh from the oven, this retro name makes a stylish choice, and little wonder parents are eagerly snapping it up while it’s still hot.

(Photo of pumpkin scones from The Daily Telegraph)

Famous Names: Guy and Vienna


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This year was the 60th anniversary of Eurovision, hosted by last year’s winner, Austria, and the finals held in Vienna on May 23. The contest was won by Sweden, with heavily favourited Måns Zelmerlöw’s Heroes storming to victory, the sixth time Sweden has been the winner. Austria was the wooden spooner this time, with not a single point – the first time a host country has received zero points. (Seriously what happened, the song wasn’t that bad?).

The big excitement for Australia was that we were finally allowed to compete, chosen as a wildcard entrant, and being given an automatic slot in the final (if you’re wondering how you receive this honour, you pay for it, with SBS stumping up the costs). We sent pop star (and twice-time celebrity dad) Guy Sebastian, performing Tonight Again, written especially for Eurovision. We came a creditable fifth, and Tonight Again is tearing up the iTunes chart in Europe, predicted to be one of the biggest hits of the northern summer.

In fact, Australia impressed enough that they haven’t ruled out asking us back next year. The theme of Eurovision 2015 was “Building Bridges”, and maybe they can build a bridge all the way to Oz.

Guy is the Norman-French form of the Germanic name Wido, a short form of names such as Witold and Widukind, based on the word witu, meaning “wood”. It was introduced to England by the Normans, and was a fairly popular name. There are a couple of saints named Guy, and the name was also used to Anglicise the name of Saint Vitus, whose Latin name means “life”.

Another influence may have been the legendary medieval hero Guy of Warwick. In the story, Guy falls in love with a fair lady named Felice, who is much posher than him. In order to win her, he must prove his worth by battling dragons, giants, huge wild boars, and a particularly savage cow. After marrying Felice, he soon feels remorseful for his acts of violence, and goes on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, eventually ending his long life as a hermit in a cave. It all sounds a bit pointless to us cynical moderns, but Guy was greatly admired, and the name Guy became traditional in the Beauchamp family, the earls of Warwick.

The name had already become relatively uncommon when it was chosen for Guy Fawkes in the 16th century, and it is conjectured that the name was slightly more popular in Yorkshire because of a famous local judge named Sir Guy Fairfax (records show Guy was still getting some use in Warwick, because of the legendary hero, and was a particular favourite in Gloucestershire, where there was a noble family named Guy – whose surname came, not from the personal name, but from the French place name Guise).

Guy Fawkes is infamous for his role in the Gunpowder Plot, where a small group of Catholics planned to assassinate the Protestant King James I and his government by blowing up Parliament House with gunpoweder. They would then kidnap King James’ nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and place her on the throne as a Catholic monarch (Elizabeth Stuart was a Protestant, but the conspirators planned to raise her as a Catholic and marry her to a Catholic when she was old enough).

It was an outrageous plan, fortunately foiled by the Plotters themselves, when they sent out letters to Catholic parliamentarians, telling them to stay away lest they get blown sky high. The letters were thought to be a hoax, but the king ordered the cellars under the parliament to be searched just in case, and Guy Fawkes was discovered there shortly after midnight on November 5 in 1605, along with enough gunpowder to reduce the House of Lords to rubble, and a fuse ready for lighting.

At first Fawkes was steadfast in his refusal to name his co-conspirators, or to reveal his identity, earning the king’s admiration. However he didn’t admire him enough not to have him tortured, and after several days of it Fawkes was eventually broken. The Plotters were all found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. Fawkes asked forgiveness of the king and the state before breaking his neck on the noose before he could be hung.

The first Guy Fawkes Night was held on November 5, when the people were encouraged to light bonfires to celebrate the king’s escape from assassination, and it went swimmingly enough that it was officially designated a day of thanksgiving until the mid 19th century. Bonfires were later supplemented by fireworks, and the custom was to burn an effigy (often of the pope). In modern times, effigies have included unpopular public figures, such as Margaret Thatcher, but the classic “guy” is of Guy Fawkes himself.

You would think that would-be domestic terrorist Guy Fawkes would have doomed the name Guy for good and all, but in fact the name became more popular after his death. It received a boost from William Harrison Ainsworth’s popular 1841 historical novel Guy Fawkes, which showed Fawkes in a sympathetic light, and urged toleration of faith at a time of anti-Catholic sentiment.

After this, Guy Fawkes often appeared as an action hero in pulp fiction, and the Fawkes mask has become a symbol of protest against tyranny, used by the Occupy movement, Anonymous, and WikiLeaks, amongst others. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist is named Guy, a state book-burner who eventually rebels. In the Harry Potter series, Fawkes was a phoenix, the pet of Dumbledore, and extremely loyal; the Order of the Phoenix is a secret organisation headed by Dumbledore intended to fight the tyrannical reign of Voldemort.

Guy’s name has entered the English language – originally a bizarrely-dressed person was called a guy, after the effigies on Guy Fawkes Day, dressed in old clothes. Now a guy just means any man, a bloke, a dude, a feller. More generally, it can just mean a person, because it’s possible to address a group of people of either or both genders as “you guys”.

The name Guy was #201 in the 1900s, and left the charts in the 1920s, not returning until the 1940s, at #224; perhaps British World War II hero Guy Gibson, of “dam busters” fame, was a help. Guy peaked in the 1970s at #113, and then steadily fell. It hasn’t charted since the late 2000s. Guy has similarly fallen out of fashion in the UK and US; it was #560 in England/Wales in 2013, while last year 156 boys were named Guy in the US.

Guy is a handsome name, but the word guy to mean a man or a person has not been a help to its dwindling use. However, this is an underused traditional name, connected with heroes and antiheroes alike, and has a rebellious, even bad boy, link. Give your son this name, and he might just consider himself the luckiest Guy in the world.

Vienna is the capital of Austria, and one of the great cities of Europe. Vienna is called The City of Music, for many great composers have lived and worked here, including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Mahler. It is also called The City of Dreams, as the home of pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. A beautiful baroque city and major cultural centre, it has been ranked as the city with the world’s best quality of life.

The name English-speakers use for the city is Vienna, the Italian form of the official German name Wien. As the site of Vienna was settled by Celts, it is thought to come from the Celtic root windo, meaning “white, fair” (the basis for the Irish Fionn and the Welsh Gwyn). Another theory is that it comes from the Celtic Vedunia, meaning “forest stream” – the stream would presumably be the River Wien which runs through Vienna. Others believe that it comes from the Roman settlement, fortified in 15 BC and given the Celtic name Vindobona, which might mean something like “white land, fair land”.

The name Vienna must have been in some use in the Middle Ages, for St Francis of Paola’s mother was named Vienna da Fuscaldo. It’s been in use as an English name since the 18th century, and can be found in Italy at the same time, probably because of the saintly connection. Modern namesakes include Joan Crawford’s gutsy saloon-keeper character in the 1950s western, Johnny Guitar, and American indie singer-songwriter Vienna Teng (real name Cynthia Shih).

Vienna is around the 600s in Australia. In 2013, Vienna ranked #882 in England/Wales, while in the US, 253 girls were named Vienna last year – not too far removed from the Top 1000.

While Vienna is by no means common, there’s a feeling that it is on its way up – and you can see why. Pretty and elegant, this is a modern-sounding multicultural name that actually has a long history. Fitting in with the trend for V names, it sounds like an updated version of Sienna, and seems like a choice that might be widely admired. Could Eurovision give it a boost?

(Photo of Guy Sebastian at Eurovision from SBS)

Celebrity Baby News: TV Babies



Children’s television entertainer Jimmy Rees, and his wife Tori, welcomed their first child on April 7 and have named their son Lenny David [pictured]. Jimmy is the star of popular ABC Kids show Giggle and Hoot, where he plays Mr Giggle – his best friend Hoot is an owl, played by another actor. Tori is a schoolteacher, and the couple were married in 2013.

Lifestyle presenter Paul West, and his partner, Alicia Cordia, welcomed their first child in late April, and have named their son Otto. Paul is the co-host of River Cottage Australia on Foxtel Lifestyle, based on the UK River Cottage series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Paul is a chef who now lives on and runs a small farm in Tilba for the show; he has written a book called The River Cottage Australia Cookbook, and also runs his own cooking school.

Waltzing With … Ignatius


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Today is Pentecost, which marks the end of the Easter season – its name means “the fiftieth”, because it is 50 days after Easter Sunday. It is the Greek name for the Hebrew festival of Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks, a harvest festival which also commemorates the traditional anniversary of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God. In this case, the name comes from being 50 days after Passover.

Pentecost became a key date in Christianity because of an event related in the New Testament. The Acts of the Apostles states that about 120 of the disciples of Jesus were gathered together to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ, and ten days after he ascended into Heaven. By tradition, it was the large upper room in which the Last Supper took place, and which the disciples continued to use as a place for meeting and prayer.

The Bible records that suddenly there came a noise like a mighty wind which filled the entire house, and upon each of them sat something which looked like a tongue of fire. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and were able to speak in different languages. This drew a large crowd, to whom the Apostles preached, and which was so impressed by the demonstration that about three thousand people were baptised, forming the beginnings of the Christian church.

A major feast day from the very earliest times, Pentecost is celebrated as a joyous occasion, and can be seen as the “birthday” of the church. The colour red is used to symbolise the Holy Spirit descending as fire, and there may be red banners, flowers, candles, balloons, and other decorations. Doves are also a prominent motif in reference to the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is a popular day to be baptised or confirmed, and as it occurs during spring in the northern hemisphere, this affirmation of youth and new life seems very appropriate.

In Britain, Pentecost became known as Whitsun, perhaps because of the white clothes worn by those preparing for baptism or confirmation (another interpretation is that it is from the “wit” given to the disciples by the Holy Spirit). In England, Whitsun was historically a major holiday, incorporating some of the traditions of the pagan summer festival, Beltane; there might be parades, music and singing, morris dancing, sports and games, and village fairs. The time around Pentecost is still often celebrated by pagans.

In the southern hemisphere, Pentecost arrives during late autumn or early winter, but this ties in quite well with the original idea of a harvest festival, as there are often food and fresh produce fairs at this time of year. Autumn is also the breeding season for several species of native doves, giving another connection to the day. Bright red autumn leaves and red poinsettia flowers can be used as decorations, and to feel a mighty wind, there are freezing gusts in some areas, freshened with snow!

So we say farewell to Easter, which ends with a bang, not a whimper, and look forward to the cold days and nights of winter.

Name Information
Ignatius is derived from the Roman family Egnatius, of unknown meaning, and presumed to be of Etruscan origin, although the Egnatia were Samnites from southern Italy, so may be Oscan instead. From early on, folk etymology connected it to the Latin word ignis, meaning “fire”, which makes it a good choice to cover for Pentecost.

There were quite a number of prominent Romans with the name Egnatius, and it rather amuses me that the first ever fire fighting service was organised in ancient Rome by Egnatius Rufus – Rufus means “red”, of course. Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus was the Emperor Gallienus, the son of the Emperor Valerian. A father and son of the Egnatii were killed with a single blow as enemies of the state, and died locked together, each trying to shield the other from harm.

There are a number of saints named Ignatius, with the earliest being Ignatius of Antioch, a first century bishop believed to be a disciple of St John the Apostle. He was one of the church’s earliest theologians, and is important to Catholicism, as he was the first known writer to use to word catholic, meaning, “universal” to describe Christianity (although from his phrasing, it would seem to have been a term already widely in use).

One of the most famous of saints of this name is Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century Spanish knight who was converted while recovering from battle. He founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), and was a church leader during the Counter-Reformation. Known for his zeal and complete devotion to the church, he was brought before the Inquisition a couple of times due to concerns he might be overdoing it (being too religious was one of the many things the Inquisition tried to stamp out). He wrote a book of simple prayers and meditations that is still used for spiritual retreats by both Catholics and non-Catholics.

Ignatius of Loyola is the main influence on the use of the name Ignatius, which is somewhat ironic, as his name wasn’t really Ignatius. He was named Íñigo, a Spanish name recently covered on the blog meaning “my dear one”, but used the Roman name Ignatius instead as he thought it would be more widely understood. Writers on Ignatius of Loyola often connect the “fiery” meaning of his name with the saint’s “fiery” zeal, overlooking the fact that Ignatius wasn’t his real name, and “fiery” isn’t the real meaning of Ignatius.

Ignatius (said ig-NAY-shus) has been used as an English name since at least the 16th century, in honour of St Ignatius of Loyola. A few Australian examples are Depression-era politician Ignatius Boyle, headmaster Ignatius O’Connor, rugby player Ignatius “Iggy” O’Donnell, and former pop singer and events director Ignatius Jones (born Juan Ignacio Trápaga, the brother of childrens’ presenter Monica Trapaga). Actress Cate Blanchett has a son named Ignatius.

Ignatius is around the 400s and is more popular in Australia than in the UK or the US, allowing for differences in population size. In 2013, 4 boys were named Ignatius in England/Wales, while last year 40 boys were given the name Ignatius in the US.

Ignatius isn’t a common name, but isn’t rare enough to seem strange or outrageous either. Australia’s strong Irish heritage gives the name plenty of recognition, and being chosen as a celebrity baby name certainly hasn’t hurt. Once seen as a Catholic name, Ignatius is beginning to be appreciated by a wider variety of parents, just as happened with Xavier, and now makes a rather hip choice. Iggy is the obvious nickname, but Nate and Ace are also possibilities.

Could Oscar and Scarlett Be Brother and Sister?


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Aimee and her husband are expecting a baby girl in a few months; they already have a son named Oscar, so are looking for a name that will complement his.

Aimee really likes the name Eloise Josephine, but unfortunately her husband doesn’t like the name Eloise. The other two names that Aimee likes are Scarlett and Stella, however, she thinks they are a bit too similar to Oscar’s name. SCARlett has the same SCAR as oSCAR, while Stella is also two syllables and ends with an -uh sound. She wonders if other people agree that Scarlett and Stella are too much like Oscar to work as possible sister names.

Aimee thinks Charlotte would make a good alternative to Scarlett, as they end in the same sound, while in Charlotte the SCAR is softened to a SHAR. She really likes the way Oscar and Charlotte sound together, even though she always thought she would avoid a name in the Top Ten. However, so many of the popular names are really nice!

At the moment, her shortlist is:


She wonders if anyone else thinks that Eloise works well with Oscar, and would be grateful for any feedback on her name list, or any suggestions of other names that she might like.

* * * * * * * * *

To answer your last question first, I think Eloise is a very pretty name, and works well as a sister to Oscar. I also like the name combination of Eloise Josephine. However, I’m not the baby’s parent, and I don’t get a say in it, so that’s probably not much help to you. Your husband doesn’t like the name Eloise, and unless he changes his mind, Eloise has to get crossed off the list. I know it must be disappointing, as your favourite name is a perfectly nice choice, but that’s how it goes.

I will keep my fingers crossed for you, and fathers have been known to change their minds when left alone, so don’t give up all hope.

To me Scarlett and Oscar are not too alike, because you don’t pronounce Oscar as o-SCAR – it’s Osk-uh. I often see brothers and sisters named Oscar and Scarlett in birth notices (it seems to be a rather popular combination for siblings), and even seeing it written down, I’ve never thought it seemed strange in any way. Now having had it pointed out, I rather like it: it seems like a nice little link between the names that isn’t too obvious.

I can see what you mean about Stella and Oscar – they’re both two syllables with the stress on the first syllable, and both end with an -uh sound. I guess that does make them a bit alike, although I certainly wouldn’t have thought anything of it without prompting. I don’t know if it’s a huge issue, unless it really bothers you – does it seem funny or hard to say when you call both names together, or do you just hate the idea of sibling names not being completely distinct from one another?

Charlotte does seem like an alternative to Scarlett, although you are right that it’s very popular. It’s sensible not to be too bothered by popularity for a name you really love, but I’m not sure the Top 2 is the first place to go when searching for an alternative to a name you love. I think I’d be more enthusiastic if Charlotte was your first choice, rather than your third or fourth, because it is a lovely name, and does sound nice with Oscar.

Estelle and Liliana are both very pretty – I can see that you prefer feminine names for girls, although Liliana is a bit frillier than your other choices.

Some other names you might like:

This pretty French name is a bit similar to Eloise (EL-uh-dee), but hopefully not so similar that your husband dislikes this name as well. It’s losing popularity in France, but gliding elegantly up the charts in the UK. Could you get on board with Elodie Josephine?

Another French name similar to Eloise, not quite as popular.

Emma is the feminine equivalent of Oscar in popularity, and fashionable Emmeline gives you that French three syllables shared with Eloise, as well as the sensible feel of Charlotte.

Another popular colour name which ends in an -et sound, like Scarlet and Charlotte. For some reason, the combination of Oscar and Violet really appeals to me.

A colour name like Scarlett, and a popular name rapidly climbing the charts. As with Violet, I find Oscar and Hazel a completely adorable sibset.

Juliet or Juliette
Another -et sound ender, and three syllables like Eloise, but less popular. The Juliette spelling might appeal to you as having more of a French look.

A sweet and pretty French name – Oscar and Sylvie strikes me as a delightful combination.

A very fashionable French name, which might seem like a more daring alternative to Charlotte. I do like Oscar and Clementine together.

Another fashionable French choice, very much in line with popular choices like Olivia. I like the sound of Oscar and Vivienne.

Well there’s some other ideas to mull over, but since you’ve been forbidden to use your favourite name of Eloise, I’m rather hoping you will decide your second choice of Scarlett isn’t too similar to Oscar after all.

Readers, what do you think of Aimee’s choices – and do you think Scarlett and Oscar, or Stella and Oscar, are too much alike as siblings?

Myf and Taj


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George Joshua and Nina Frances (Louie)

Amelia Danae
Annikka Mavis
Cory Marie (Austin, Lincoln)
Elizabeth Mary (Winston, George)
Eve Nyree
Fleur Pippa
Georgiana Elizabeth Harriet
Harriet Alice (Tilly, Grace)
Heidi Sophia (Yasmin, Rachael)
Holly Bethan
Imogen Pearl (Dion, Gisele)
Ivy Dawn
Jessa Mae
Josephine Regina
Kivari Jayda (Indi, Peppr, Mannix)
Lilliana Neve (April)
Myf Dai (Bon, Sia)
Olivia d’Oliveyra (Isabel)
Sadie Rose (Ruby, Jack)

Angus Maxwell (Sebastian, Spencer, Lewis)
Antwone (Taryll, Terry, Nehemiah, Samantha)
Austin Ronald (Jackson)
Emmanuel (Lochie, Brittney, Daisy)
Enzo Vincent (Vincent, Juno)
Hugh Morgan Bold
Jack Isaiah
James Albert
Joseph Colin (Paddy, Claire, Maeve)
Leighton Andrew
Leroy Gary (Lydia)
Lucien David (Levi)
Matari Adrian
Roger Zimo
Ryder Jack (Tate)
Slater James (Poppy)
Taj Wiliam (Madison, Imogen, Matilda)
Tristan Heath
Theodore Robert
Zachary Winsent (Ryder, Owen, Quinn)

(Photo of models from Piggledee, Sydney handmade accessory design company)

Famous Name: Diana


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Famous Namesake
The birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana has many people wondering if Charlotte can get to #1 – it would be an easy feat in Australia, as its just been deposed by Olivia, and could regain its throne by going up just one spot in the rankings. It feels as if I am already seeing more Charlottes in birth notices, so who knows!

The princess’ name also invites the question of whether her middle name, Diana, may become more popular as either a first or a middle name. It is well known that the name Diana honours Princess Charlotte’s grandmother, Diana, Princess of Wales – Lady Diana Spencer before her marriage, and dubbed “Lady Di” by the press.

Famous for her beauty and charisma, Diana gained respect for her charity work, and sympathy for her unhappy marriage and divorce. Her life, lived under intense scrutiny, ended shockingly in a car crash, leading to an outpouring of public grief. Years later, her memory is still fresh, and she continues to be a subject of fascination for the media.

Diana’s name is a traditional one in the Spencer family, and she was named after a distant 18th century ancestor, who was also Lady Diana Spencer. Tall, fair, charismatic, and attractive, this earlier Lady Diana had been hoped to marry the Prince of Wales, Frederick, the son of King George II. These plans came to naught, and she married a future Duke of Bedford instead.

The parallels between these two namesakes are striking: both grew up at the stately home of Althorp, both socialised with the royal family, both were intended brides of a Prince of Wales, and both unexpectedly died young – the earlier Lady Diana of TB at 25.

Another Lady Diana Spencer born in the 18th century was known as Lady Di, and a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. A talented artist, she was most famous for the unhappiness of her first marriage, which was marked by infidelity, and ended in divorce. Days later, she married again, to a celebrated wit who was a great-grandson of King Charles II. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire, as her second husband was evil-tempered, a drug fiend, and extremely filthy in his habits. He died begging her pardon for the life of misery he had given her.

While Princess Charlotte’s first two names connect her equally to her royal and commoner families, her third name is a link to her famous grandmother, not just a style icon and People’s Princess, but a beloved mother still deeply missed by her sons. It’s also a connection to her aristocratic Spencer line. Diana has already been used as a middle name twice to honour Diana, Princess of Wales – for Princess Charlotte, and for Diana’s niece, Charlotte Diana Spencer – and perhaps there will be more family namesakes in the future.

Name Information
In Roman mythology, Diana is the goddess of the hunt, having power over wild animals. Associated with countryside and woodlands, oak groves are sacred to her. She is a goddess of the moon, the twin sister of the sun god Apollo. Diana is also a goddess of women, childbirth and midwifery, although a maiden goddess. She is the Roman equivalent of Artemis.

On the one hand, Diana is inaccessible like the chill light of the moon, ever virgin, dwelling far away on sacred mountains, deep in the woods. On the other, she bestowed divine authority onto kings, with her own priest taking the role of King of the Grove. Women worshipped her when they wished to become pregnant, and during pregnancy, as they prayed to her for an easy delivery. Thus this seemingly cold distant goddess helped the survival of humanity.

Diana was one of the most widely worshipped and ancient of the Roman gods, pre-dating the city, and originating amongst the Latin tribes of the Alban Hills. She was the especial patron of the lower classes, with slaves being able to claim asylum in her temples. Diana is portrayed as young and beautiful, often dressed for the hunt in a short tunic and boots, carrying her bows and arrows, and accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs.

The name Diana is believed to come from the Latin dius, meaning “sky”, from an ancient root meaning “bright sky, daylight”. Related to it are the Latin words deus, meaning “god”, die, meaning “day, daylight”, and diurnal, meaning “day time”. The name is usually translated as “divine, deity”.

The goddess Diana is mentioned in the New Testament, because of Ephesus in present-day Turkey, the location of The Temple of Diana. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the man who compiled the list considered the Temple of Diana to be the greatest of them all, outstripping the pyramids of Egypt and the hanging gardens of Babylon in its beauty and brilliance.

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Ephesian craftsmen who earned their living making shrines of the goddess felt their livelihoods threatened by St Paul’s preaching of Christianity, and organised a spirited protest march, shouting the catchy slogan, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! In the short term, the situation by was smoothed over by a city bureaucrat.

In the long term, Christianity didn’t do the worship of Diana any favours, although when the Temple of Diana was eventually destroyed, it was by pagan Goths, not Christians. However, worship of the goddess Diana is alive and well, and still practised in various strains of modern Wicca and witchcraft.

Diana has been a favourite in the arts for centuries, featured in many paintings and sculptures. Referenced numerous times in Shakespeare, she actually appears in both Pericles and All’s Well That Ends Well. Neither has her fame diminished. Her myth was the basis for Wonder Woman, and she is a character in the Sailor Moon series, as well as featuring in several video games.

Diana has been used as an English name since at least the 16th century. It has been something of a favourite amongst the English aristocracy, with a famous example being Lady Diana Cooper (nee Manners). Beautiful, witty, and glamorous, her parents hoped that she would one day marry the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) – what is it with Dianas being matched up with Princes of Wales? Instead she married a future ambassador to France. Lady Diana had a glittering career as a socialite, writer, and actress, and was often referenced in Jazz Age literature.

The name Diana first charted in the 1910s, debuting at #301; this was the decade when Lady Diana Cooper first came to prominence as a member a group of aristocrats and intellectuals, and coincides with the publication of Anne of Green Gables, where Diana Barry is Anne’s pretty and loyal best friend. It rose steadily, and joined the Top 100 in the 1930s, peaking the following decade at #59 – the time when Lady Diana Cooper became a celebrated hostess in postwar France.

The name remained stable through the 1950s and ’60s, under the influence of sexy British actresses, Diana Dors and Diana Rigg, but left the Top 100 in the 1970s, and continued falling – Diana, Princess of Wales, did not halt its downward progress. The name had a slight boost in 2009, the year after Diana’s inquest found there was no evidence of foul play in her death, but hasn’t charted since 2011.

Diana is still only #297 in the US, although falling, while in the UK it is #358, and rose in 2013. A popular name in Spain and Poland, it is most popular in Hungary, at #75.

Diana is a beautiful, elegant name, with a history that is divine, noble, and even royal. It seems to have become prematurely dated in Australia, as the name remains in use in other countries, and is popular in Europe. I wonder if the name has become too firmly attached to Diana, Princess of Wales, with her luminous fame and life tragically cut short. Will the baby princess help give Diana a boost, or will it merely underline it as a name reserved for Diana’s family?

Boys Names from the British Royal Family


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Christian Mowatt is the younger brother of Zenouska Mowatt, grandson of Princess Alexandra, and great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 1993, he is 51st in line to the throne. Christian is one of the most common names in the British royal family, especially in the middle. Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, a member of the Danish royal family, was the husband of Princess Helena, the daughter of Queen Victoria. Their son was also called Prince Christian, and he was Queen Victoria’s favourite grandson, a British army officer who fell in the Boer War. Christian is from the Latin name Christianus, meaning “follower of Christ”. It has been used as a personal name since the Middle Ages, and was originally more common for girls amongst English-speakers. It became seen as a boy’s name after John Bunyan’s highly popular The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), where the hero is a man named Christian. Christian has been a traditional name for Danish kings since the 15th century, and Prince Christian of Denmark, the son of Prince Frederik and Princess Mary, is second in line to the Danish throne. Christian was #178 in the 1900s, and disappeared from the charts the following decade. It returned in the 1950s at #280, perhaps inspired by French fashion designer Christian Dior, or Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Anderson, both popular at the time. It rose in the 1960s, and reached the Top 100 in 1971. Its progress has been up and down, and it’s currently #85. It’s a retro name that feels like a modern classic, popular for decades without feeling overused.

Columbus Taylor is the eldest son of Lady Helen Taylor, a grandson of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and a great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 1994, he is 38th in line to the throne. The name Columbus is best known as the surname of Christopher Columbus, the 15th century Italian explorer and navigator under the patronage of the Spanish monarchy. In his efforts to find a safe passage to Asia by sailing west, he initiated the Spanish colonisation of the New World, leading to lasting European contact with the Americas that changed the world forever. The explorer’s Italian name was Cristoforo Colombo; Colombo is the Italian form of the saint’s name Columba, Latin for “dove”, and used by Christians in reference to the Holy Spirit, often symbolised as a dove. A name with Transatlantic appeal, nearly always given in honour of the explorer, and a more eyebrow-raising form of Callum.

Guelph is one of the middle names of Leopold Windsor, the son of Nicholas Windsor, who has been featured on the blog as a royal dad. A grandson of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and great-great-grandson of King George V, Leopold was born in 2009, and as a Roman Catholic, is not in the line of succession to the throne. The House of Guelph was a European dynasty which played a major role in the politics of medieval Italy, but whose territories moved towards Germany early on, and was eventually succeeded by the Kingdom of Hanover – thus giving strong ties to the British royal family. The current head of the House of Guelph is Ernest August, Prince of Hanover, a descendant of King George II, and husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. The House of Guelph was founded by Welf IV, Duke of Bavaria, of Italian and German heritage; his name is a Germanic one meaning “young dog”, and thus the equivalent of the English word whelp. A very noble name – perhaps even too aristocratic for most.

Hubert was one of the middle names of George Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, who was the son of Princess Mary, and grandson of King George V, cousin to Elizabeth II. He passed his middle name down to his son, Mark Hubert Lascelles, born 1964, and not in line to the throne due to being born out of wedlock. Hubert is a Germanic name meaning “bright mind”, and became well known because of St Hubert, an 8th century Bishop of Liege. A French nobleman, he became addicted to hunting after his wife died in childbirth, until he had a vision of a crucifix between the antlers of the stag he was pursuing. Even though this legend was taken from the story of St Eustace, St Hubert is honoured as the patron of ethical hunting, having compassion for animals as God’s creatures. Widely venerated during the Middle Ages, St Hubert’s noble ancestry made him a favourite with chivalric and military orders. Hubert has been used in two Disney films – King Hubert is the father of Sleeping Beauty, while in Brave, Hubert is one of Princess Merida’s three brothers. Hubert was #102 in the 1900s, and had left the charts by the 1940s, so this vintage name may appear dated, although it is rising in the UK, and fits in with Hugh and Hugo.

Inigo is one of the middle names of Charles Armstrong-Jones, the son of Viscount Linley, grandson of Princess Margaret, and great-grandson of King George VI; Queen Elizabeth II is his great aunt. Born in 1999, he is 19th in line to the throne, and his middle name is in honour of Inigo Jones, a personal hero of his father. Inigo Jones was a 17th century British architect and stage designer, a royal Surveyor-General, and hugely influential. Some of his many works include the Queen’s House in Greenwich, now used to house the art collection of the National Maritime Museum, the Banqueting House in the Palace of Whitehall, now a museum, and the Queen’s Chapel at St James’ Palace. He also designed Covent Garden square, and undertook repair and remodelling of St Paul’s Cathedral. Inigo is a British form of Íñigo, a Castilian form of the Basque name Eneko, translated as “my little love, my little dear one”. It may go back to Roman times, but from the Middle Ages was traditional amongst Spanish royalty and nobility. Pronounced IN-i-go, this was first used as an English name in Cornwall, but became traditional amongst descendants of Inigo Jones. Those descendants in Australia include meteorologist Inigo Owen Jones, and wealthy grazier Arthur Triggs, whose brother was named Inigo. A sweet yet solid choice, Inigo has been given further dash and a famous catchphrase by Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.

Maximilian Lascelles is the son of Henry Lascelles, the great-grandson of Princess Mary, and great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 1991, he is 66th in line to the throne. The name Maximilian is from the Roman name Maxmilianus, derived from Maximus, meaning “greatest”. There are a few saints named Maximilian, with the 3rd century martyr St Maximilian of Tebessa regarded as the first conscientious objector, because he believed that as a Christian, he could not serve in the Roman army. He has been a hero to the anti-war movement ever since. Maximilian I was a 15th century Holy Roman Emperor, named for one of the St Maximilians – probably Germanic missionary and martyr Maximilian of Celeia – and the name has been traditional amongst European monarchy ever since (the tradition that his name was a cross between two Roman emperors is just folklore). Maximilian is around the 400s here, but significantly higher in the UK. Handsome and regal, Maximilian sounds very imposing – but shortens to popular, friendly Max.

Otis Shard is the son of Lady Emily Shard, and the great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 2011, he is not in the line of succession because his mother was born out of wedlock. Otis is a surname derived from an English form of the medieval Germanic name Ode or Odo, an earlier form of the German name Otto. The surname is very well known in the United States, as the Otises are a prominent family influential in early American politics; aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was one of their members. Famous musical namesakes include Otis Redding, Otis Rush, Otis Span, rapper Otis Jackson Jr, and Otis Williams, from The Temptations, and another musical connection is the song Otis by Kanye West and Jay-Z, sampling Otis Redding. A rising name in the UK, Otis is around the 300s here, and a very fashionable choice.

Tane Lewis is the brother of Senna Lewis, and great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 2012, he is 30th in line to the throne. As earlier discussed, Tane’s father is New Zealander Gary Lewis, the only Maori to have married into the British royal family, and Tane has a name to honour his heritage. Tane is the god of trees and birds in Maori mythology, the son of the sky father and the earth mother, who clothed his father in the stars and his mother with vegetation. In some legends, he made the first man, and in others he made the first woman, moulding her from soil so she could be his wife. The word tāne means “man” in Maori, and it is pronounced TAH-neh, although I have met boys in New Zealand and Australia called Tane who say their name TAYN. A strong, simple yet evocative name which is a wonderful heritage choice, fitting in with familiar names such as Tanner, Tate, and Talon.

Tewa Lascelles is the brother of Tanit Lascelles, a great-grandson of Princess Mary, and great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 1985, he is 58th in line to the throne. Tewa’s mother was Lori Lee, known as “Shadow”, of Native American descent, and his name was chosen to honour his heritage. The Tewa people are from New Mexico, and the name Tewa comes from a Keres word meaning “moccasins”; it is pronounced TAY-wuh, rather like Taylor with a W instead of an L. Tewa Lascelles, an American citizen, was born in New Mexico, and perhaps the name reflects his birthplace as well. Tewa is in a progressive punk band, following in his family’s musical footsteps, as James Lascelles is a keyboardist with an interest in world music, and grandfather George Lascelles devoted most of his career to opera.

Xan Windsor, Lord Culloden, is the brother of Lady Cosima Windsor, son of the Earl of Ulster, and great-great-grandson of King George V; born in 2007, he is 26th in line to the throne. Xan is named in honour of his father, Major Alex Ulster, and this snappy short form of Alexander seems very versatile. Fresh and futuristic, Xan could belong to either gender, and is of ambiguous cultural background, making it the perfect choice for the modern age.

(Picture shows Tane Lewis, accompanied by his mother, Lady Davina Lewis; photo from The Daily Mail)

Tully Faye and Ulanni Kaye


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Aria and Sophia

Alice Jannie
Anastasia Elena (Cristiano)
Briella Ivy (Camden)
Eden Perri (Kenna)
Genevieve Jane
Kelli Vasilka May (Keira, Kayla)
Imogen Belle (Jago)
Isabella Liya
Lillian Margaret (Harry)
Lulu Morrison (Marcelus)
Mara Reid (Cameron, Chelsea, Hudson)
Meilani Maree
Olivia Catherine Sandra
Paige Phetmani
Reegan Elizabeth “Dash” (Samantha, Annika)
Remi Indra
Tully Faye (Hunter)
Ulanni Kaye (Tevita)
Vivienne Mary (Ollie)
Zahlia Rose

Angus Hugh William (Grace, Clare)
Braxton Christopher (Indigo)
Callum Michael (Ozzie, Levi)
Frederick (Charles)
Grayson Trent (Scarlett)
Harrison George (Paegan, Jordan)
Hezekiah Victor
Isaiah Aditya
James Maxwell (Catherine)
Jobe Lawrence
Joseph Owen (William, Maija)
Jude Ashton
Lachlan Felice
Luca Santiago (Jada)
Nate Ty (Kendall)
Preston Jack (Siarna, Harper, Ashton, Mariah)
Sebastian Petar (Sofia)
Ted Kent (Archer, Evie)
Taha Niveed (Talazzul)
Vander (Hudson)

(Photo shows the Alligators Nest in Tully Gorge National Park, near Tully in far north Queensland – there are no alligators or crocodiles here, the popular picnic area is named after a scout group called The Alligators)

Celebrity Baby News: TV and Radio Babies


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Actor Blair McDonough, and his wife Kristi, welcomed their first child on March 26 and have named their daughter Leni Rose [pictured]. Leni was born at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. Blair first gained fame in 2001 as runner-up on the first series of reality TV show, Big Brother. He went on to have a regular role on soap opera Neighbours, and later on Sea Patrol and Winners and Losers. He and Kristi married in Hawaii and relocated to the United States last year.

Nova radio host Tim Blackwell, and his wife Monique, welcomed their son Alfie Hawthorn on May 2, a brother for their daughter Bo, aged 2; Bo’s birth was featured on the blog. Tim joked that the birth of Princess Charlotte on the same day as Alfie meant that they couldn’t get an exclusive magazine deal. Hawthorn is a suburb of Melbourne, and an Australian rules football club, giving this flower name a sporty boyish vibe.


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