A short time ago, Charlotte and Jake had a nameless baby daughter, and a name list that threatened to get longer and longer, after their chosen baby name, Elsie, was derailed by a family feud.
However, since having their story on the blog, there has been some definite progress. Both Jake and Charlotte shared their published story with their families, and now feel there is at least some understanding of what they’ve been through.
Charlotte read through the article on unregistered babies: as you could probably tell from her story, she is a very gentle and soft-hearted person who was upset to think of any baby going without an identity. She is now absolutely determined that her daughter will not be registered even one day after the deadline.
Charlotte also realised that without family intervention, she would have been happy to call the baby Elsie. She began to wonder if her daughter was always meant to be called Elsie, but she deliberately turned herself off the name in order to please other people.
Charlotte and Jake have cut their name list back to just two choices:
Elsie Josephine – the name they originally chose at the hospital
Mabel Birdie Rose – the name they began calling their daughter when they came home
They feel that these are the only two authentic options available to them, and they are very interested to know what people think.
Charlotte and Jake already have an older daughter named Olive, and their surname begins with R and ends in D eg Randalwood.
Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre, and his wife Sascha, welcomed their second child on September 19 and have named their son Morgan Miguel. Morgan Maestre joins big sister Claudia.
Miguel was born in Spain, and first began cooking when he was 21 and moved to Scotland; this is also where he learned to speak English. He moved to Australia in 2004, and has worked at some of Sydney’s premier kitchens; he now runs Apertif on Potts Point with fellow chef Manu Feildel, and has his own catering company, as well as writing cookery books. He is well known from his many media appearances, including Channel Ten’s The Living Room, and has been a guest judge on MasterChef Australia and Junior MasterChef. Miguel became an Australian citizen last year, and took part in the The Pledge video series, celebrating 65 years of Australian citizenship.
Sascha is an Australian, and first met Miguel in Scotland, where she was working as a waitress in Edinburgh. She and Miguel were married in 2010.
Jude played for the Sydney Swans, and retired at the end of last season. Since retiring, he has taken on a role in Channel Seven’s coverage of AFL, and was also a celebrity crew member on Perpetual Loyal in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Football coach Brad Scott, and his wife Penny, welcomed their first child on September 9 and have named their son Fletcher Charles.
Brad began his career in the Australian Football League in 1997 with Hawthorn, before being traded to the Brisbane Lions the following year, where he played alongside his identical twin brother Chris, who is three minutes older. He ended his playing career in 2006, and since 2010 has been the coach for North Melbourne. His twin brother Chris is the coach of Geelong, and on September 12, the two brothers’ teams played each other in a semi-final, with North Melbourne the winning side.
Penny is a landscape designer, and she and Brad were married in 2012.
Ben Murdoch-Masila, and his partner, Roxy Mura, welcomed their daughterAcacia-Rose earlier this year. Acacia-Rose is named in honour of Ben’s best friend, Mosese Fotuaika, who passed away in tragic circumstances last year: Ben and Mosese first met in a park in the Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge. Ben is originally from New Zealand, and has played rugby league in Australia since 2010. He signed with the Penrith Panthers this season, and they will be playing the Canterbury Bulldogs in the finals this weekend. Ben has also played for the Tongan national team.
Ben’s friend Mosese was also from New Zealand, and his fellow team mate at the Wests Tigers. Several months after Mosese’s death, his girlfriend and high school sweetheart Shanice Alaiasa gave birth to their daughter, who she namedTaya – the name Mosese had chosen for her before she was born.
Ashley Harrison and his wife Majella welcomed their sonWilliam late last year, a brother for Ethan. Ashley made his debut in 2000 and played almost 300 games during his career; he played for several clubs, most recently the Gold Coast Titans, and was selected to play for Queensland in State of Origin, as well as the Prime Minister’s XIII and the NRL All-Stars. Ashley recently retired from the game because of a severe neck injury.
Ryan Stig, and his wife Andrea, welcomed a daughter named Norah Joy earlier this year. Ryan played for the Newcastle Knights, but was forced to stop playing in 2011 after developing a blood clot on his eye and chronic fatigue. He was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease, and will be travelling to Germany for treatment this month.
(Photo shows Ben and Roxy with their daughter Acacia-Rose)
It’s been more than a year since we had a list of short form names, and as this is a huge growth area, it’s time for another.
Short form of Adelaide and related names. It has been an independent name since the Middle Ages, and was used by royalty and the nobility; an example is the Ada who was reputedly the sister of Charlemagne. There is also a 7th century St Ada, who was a French nun and abbess. Ada was especially popular during the 19th century, and a famous namesake from this era is (Augusta) Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, a daughter of Lord Byron and his only child born in wedlock – nearly always known as Ada Lovelace. Ada was a gifted mathematician who produced an algorithm designed to be used by a machine; in effect, the first computer program. A famous contemporary example is Australian actress Ada Nicomedou. Ada was #40 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 in the 1920s; it was off the charts by the 1950s. Ada made a comeback in the 1990s at #845, and is currently around the 300s. Fitting in perfectly with the trend for short simple names like Ava, and for traditional old-fashioned names like Elsie, this is a hip retro short form that not too many people are using.
Short form of Isabella, and other names ending in -bella, such as Annabella or Arabella. However, many people connect it to the Italian word for “beautiful”, and understand it that way. Bella has been an independent name since the Middle Ages, and has had particular use by Jewish families from Russia and Central Europe – two examples are American feminist Bella Abzug, and writer Bella Rosenfeld, the wife of Russian-French artist Marc Chagall. A famous Australian namesake is actress Bella Heathcote, best known for her role on Neighbours a few years ago. Bella first joined the charts in the 1990s at #541, rising on the heels of Isabella, which began its impressive ascent in the 1980s. Bella entered the Top 100 in 2002, debuting at #99; it peaked in 2010 at #41, and is currently #48 nationally. Like Isabella, Bella’s success is often attributed to the Twilight series, although as you can see, it was rising and even popular before the first novel was released in 2005. Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swan (an irritating character name because it describes the story’s outcome) probably did help though, if only by increasing visibility.
Short form of the Greek name Demetria, the feminine form of Demetrius, which is derived from the name of the agricultural goddess Demeter. The goddess’ name is often translated as “earth mother” or “barley mother”. Demi is also sometimes connected with the French word demi, meaning “half”, to suggest “small” (as in half-pint). This name has a big dose of star power, thanks to Hollywood actress Demi Moore, and from a generation younger, pop singer and actress Demteria “Demi” Lovato. The name is usually pronounced duh-MEE, but English-speakers sometimes prefer it to be said to rhyme with Emmie. Demi is around the 500s in Australia, and is rising in the US, but falling in the UK, so international trends are at odds on this one.
Short form of any name starting with El-, such as Eleanor, Ellen, Elizabeth, or Eloise, and long used as an independent name. It is well known from British pop singer Elena “Ellie” Goulding, and a favourite in the world of fiction. Fictional namesakes include the dainty little girl in The Water Babies, Ellie Linton, heroine of John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began, Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, brainy heroine of Carl Sagan’s Contact, adventurous Ellie Frederickson from Up, the woolly mammoth from the Ice Age series, and strong matriarch Eleanor “Miss Ellie” Ewing, from Dallas. Ellie joined the charts in the 1980s at #349, and was in the Top 100 as early as 1993, at #98. It managed to get in again a decade later in 2003, at #72, and has remained fairly stable in the bottom half of the Top 100 ever since. Currently it is #56. Ellie fits in perfectly with popular names like Ella, and is well-used without being overly common or rising alarmingly.
Unisex nickname that in the case of boys is a pet form of Francis, Francesco, Francisco, Frank, or Franklin, and in the case of girls, of Frances, Francesca, Francisca, or Francine. Famous male Frankies include American crooner Frankie Valli, British comedian Frankie Howerd, American actor Frankie Muniz, who played the title role in Malcolm in the Middle, and Australian kick-boxer Frankie Georgi. A famous female Frankie is British pop singer Frankie Sandford, and the name has been chosen for their daughters by several celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, and in Australia by rugby league star Johnathan Thurston, weather presenter Sara Cumming, and news presenter Rebecca Morse. In the US, Frankie only charts for boys, while in the UK, it charts for both sexes, but is only popular as a boy’s name. In Australia, Frankie is a unisex name, and significantly more common for girls. The reason for its increasingly feminine image here is no doubt because of the hip women’s fashion magazine, frankie.
French nickname for any name with a G sound, such as Georgine or Ghislaine. Its most famous namesake is the charming Parisian schoolgirl in Colette’s 1942 novella, Gigi, who is being trained to be a courtesan by her family. Their plans go awry when the gamine Gigi attracts a wealthy older man, and becomes his wife instead of his mistress. It has been turned into a musical and a couple of films, including the 1958 Hollywood production starring Leslie Caron as Gigi, which is surprisingly faithful to the book, except for discreetly upping Gigi’s age from twelve to around sixteen, and adding songs like Thank Heavens For Little Girls. Gigi’s name is short for Gilberte, by the way. In Italy it is a male nickname, short for Luigi. An Australian with this name is actress Gigi Edgely, who has starred in Farscape. A flirty French Lolita, Gigi is currently a hip girl’s name in the style of Coco. It was recently chosen as a celebrity baby name by swimmer Geoff Huegill.
Short for any name with a mil sound, such as Millicent, Mildred, Camilla, Emilia, or Amelia, and is also spelled Milly. You can see Millie as a vintage charmer, all bonnets and hoop skirts, but there’s also something a little Swinging Sixties about it, thanks to My Boy Lollipop, sung by Millie Small, and the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie, starring Julie Andrews. It has a very Australian connection as Millie the Echidna was one of the official mascots for the Sydney Olympics (her name is short for Millenium). Millie was #196 in the 1900s, and left the charts in the 1930s. It returned in the 1990s at #501, had a definite upsurge after the 2000 Olympics, and in 2011 was only just outside the Top 100, its highest point ever gained. It fits in perfectly with popular names like Milla and Mila, and is right on trend for sprightly vintage names, so it feels as if popularity must be just around the corner for suddenly modern-again Millie.
Unisex nickname for either the boys’ name Stephen or Steven, or the girl’s name Stephanie; these are Greek in origin, and mean “crown”. Stevie has been an independent name since the Middle Ages, and although you might think of it as very modern for girls, it’s been a female name since the 18th century. Famous male Stevies include Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Australia’s first international pop star, Stevie Wright. A famous female one is English novelist and confessional poet Stevie Smith, whose real name was Florence, and who gained her nickname from a perceived resemblance to jockey Steve Donaghue. However, the most well known female example is singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks, and it is no doubt her popularity in the 1970s and 1980s which made Stevie seem more feminine. In Australia, Stevie can be only be found in current use as a girl’s name, and it’s around the 300s. While writing this, I realised what a musical name Stevie is – look at all those namesakes from the world of pop and rock!
Short form of Teresa or Theresa, a rather mysterious name, because the various meanings suggested for it are always Greek, but the name itself is of Spanish origin. Nobody has been able to explain this to my satisfaction. Tess has a very famous literary namesake, the beautiful, tormented title character of Thomas Hardy’s rural tragedy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Tess Harding is the celebrated journalist trying to cope with marriage as well as a career in rom-com classic Woman of the Year (1941), with Tess played by Katharine Hepburn in her first outing with Spencer Tracy. Another Tracy connection is the adorably-named Tess Trueheart, eventual wife of comic strip detective, Dick Tracy. Tess Mcleod is one of the sisters in Australian drama series McLeod’s Daughters, played by the popular Bridie Carter. Last year comedian Dave Hughes welcomed a daughter named Tess Clementine, voted the most popular celebrity baby name of 2013. Tess joined the charts in the 1980s at #352, and peaked in the early 2000s at #209. Simple yet strong, pert and practical, Tess is a short and stylish choice.
Short for Matilda, this can also be spelled Tillie. Apart from being a short form of a patriotic name, Tilly has a notorious namesake in Australia. Tilly Devine was an infamous figure of the Sydney underworld between the two world wars, who became known first as a prostitute, then as a brothel madam and gang member. Her wealth was legendary – she owned real estate, luxury cars, gold and diamonds, threw lavish parties, and always travelled first class. Operating out of Woolloomooloo, Tilly was known as the “Queen of the ‘Loo”, and in the 1953 travelled to London for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Tilly’s story, and her violent gang war with rival vice queen Kate Leigh, was covered in Channel Nine’s drama series, Underbelly: Razor. Tilly is around the 100s in Australia, so not rare at all, while Tillie does not chart. It is something of a puzzle as to why Millie is preferred to Milly, but Tilly preferred to Tillie. Tilly is a sweet and spunky short form in line with British name trends, with an Australian identity all its own.
Thank you to Brooke for suggesting the name Millie be featured on Waltzing More Than Matilda.
(Photo shows New Zealand actress Chelsie Preston Crayford as Tilly Devine in Underbelly: Razor)
Charlotte and Jake have been blessed with a beautiful daughter, and they couldn’t be happier – except that she was born seven weeks ago and they still haven’t decided on a name for her. Charlotte was relieved to read on the blog that no terrible fate awaits parents who don’t make the 60 day registration deadline, but they still need to choose a name as soon as possible.
During the pregnancy they considered the names Myrtle, Elsie, Rosie, Mabel, Maeve, Mae, Agnes, Florence, Iris, Ida, Fern, and Pearl. Jake’s #1 choice for the name is Rosie, which Charlotte isn’t that keen on, while he completely vetoed Pearl. During the name process, Jake went off Iris and Ida.
Just before the birth, their short list of front runners was:
How the Problem Started
As Charlotte was wheeled off to recover after giving birth, she and Jake were in complete agreement: the baby’s name was Elsie. Charlotte was sure she was an Elsie, and told the doctor that was her daughter’s name. Meanwhile, Jake was telling all the nurses they had chosen the name Elsie.
Unfortunately, Charlotte couldn’t bring herself to commit to Elsie because of a family issue. Elsie is the name of a family member, no longer in the land of the living, that Charlotte didn’t know or have contact with. However, other family members who did know Elsie didn’t get along with her, and weren’t pleased at the prospect of another Elsie in the family.
The baby came home without a name, and Jake was annoyed, believing they should have just stuck with the name Elsie.
Everyone Has an Opinion!
Jake and Charlotte have an older daughter called Olive, and Olive instantly recognised the baby as Myrtle, and called her such. However, Jake and Charlotte had already decided she definitely wasn’t a Myrtle.
Mostly Jake and Charlotte have been calling their daughter Mabel since she was born, and Charlotte is getting a strong emotional attachment to it. However, Charlotte also reasons that if Mabel was such a good name, wouldn’t they have committed to it by now?
Furthermore, they have shared the name Mabel with others, and received extremely negative reactions to it. They’ve been told it’s an awful name, a cow’s name, a scullery maid’s name, and an elderly relative said they could call the baby anything they wanted – but not Mabel.
Charlotte loves the name Fern, but this has resulted in people “pulling faces” when the idea is floated past them. She also worries that Olive and Fern are too botanical together, and wonders if Fern really has vintage charm, or is it actually a hippie name? She also wonders if Maeve really has that vintage feel as well.
Everyone loves the name Rosie, but Charlotte thinks of it as a “dog name”, and a bit too common.
What Charlotte and Jake Want
* Ideally, a vintage-style name
* A soft, beautiful name to suit their gentle, placid daughter
* A name that isn’t a “burden”
* Jake likes names that have a nickname
Current Name List
* Elsie (Charlotte is still concerned about the family issue, and isn’t sure about the -ie ending)
* Edith or Edie (Charlotte not keen)
* Mae (too short, but maybe a nickname for Mabel or Maeve?)
* Agnes, Ida, and Rosie are still in the mix and seem usable, although Jake has gone off Agnes
Middle names they are considering are Birdie, Josephine, and Rose. Charlotte quite fancies Birdie as a short form of Brigid (and it could be her name for everyday use), Jake really loves the thought of an Elsie Josephine, and the Rose is a sop to Jake, so that he can still have the option of calling his daughter Rosie as a nickname.
Where They Are Now
Going around and around in circles and getting stressed and anxious. Charlotte can’t let go of any of the names, and has been through the complete register of all births from 1880 to 1920 to find fresh name inspiration. The 60 day deadline expires next week ….
* * * * * * * * * *
Goodness, you two have got yourself in a real pickle, haven’t you?
This is the fourth time on the blog I have heard of a couple having trouble choosing a baby name after the birth – three of you have written in, and one was a news story. What you all have in common is that other people have become involved in the baby naming process, and in each case, this wasn’t the slightest bit of help, and turned the whole thing into a huge drama that went on for weeks.
You both chose the name Elsie, which I think is a beautiful name which sounds lovely with Olive, and with your surname, and pretty much ticked all your boxes, being vintage, and soft-sounding, and nicknamey. It sounds as if you would have happily come home with a baby called Elsie if not for the opinions of family members.
I tend to agree with Jake – I think you should have just named her Elsie, and announced that as her name. Despite the family disagreement, I don’t think it would have taken them more than a few minutes (a few weeks for anyone of exceptional stubborness) to realise that the Elsie they didn’t care for is gone forever and will never bother them again, while little baby Elsie is a completely separate person and utterly sweet and delightful in every way.
That’s another problem with choosing a baby name several weeks after the birth. Your heart is bursting with love for your daughter, and every minute you fall more and more in love with her. And each day she’s getting cuter and cuter, developing winning little ways and adorable baby quirks. No name is going to seem good enough for her, and a great enough expression of your love, and if you wait until she’s giggling and cooing, you’ll be toast.
You look down at her and think, “Oh she’s such a beautiful baby, so soft and gentle and placid and cuddly and happy. We need an extra specially soft and beautiful and cuddly and happy name for her”. But what name is ever going embody that unique combination of beauty and softness and gentleness and placidity and happiness to your perfect satisfaction?
And she’s so tiny and perfect and fragile and defenceless that you can’t bear the thought of anyone poking fun of her name, and every name you consider seems to have a hidden trap in it. Of course you don’t want her to grow up in a family where people say, “The last Elsie in the family wasn’t very nice”, or amongst friends who say, “Mabel sounds like a cow”, or pull a face when they hear her name. The more time you think about it, the more every name will seem as if it has tease potential.
Also the longer you wait, the more you feel under pressure to come up with something amazing. It will seem ridiculous that it took you three months to pick the name Elsie Josephine or Mabel Rose or Fern Maeve. You have to drop the idea that there’s a perfect name out there that will match your daughter’s personality with exqusisite taste, silence all criticism, be utterly tease-immune, and make everyone think, “Oh well no wonder it took them all this time to find a name that good”.
I have two main pieces of advice for you, and even if you ignore everything else, please please please PLEASE follow these two things in the headline.
1. Nobody Else Gets to Name Your Baby Girl
It’s time the committee meetings on what to call the baby come to a complete halt. Other people haven’t helped, and have made you second guess all the names you’re considering. I feel absolutely furious that people have been so rude about the names you like, and I agree it’s absolutely none of their business. On the other hand – why did you ask?
You worry that their opinions show what your daughter will have to face in the future, yet, being extremely blunt, some of these people will have passed on by the time your daughter reaches adulthood, and your colleagues aren’t going to be part of her life (they won’t even be part of your life forever).
In any case, asking a ton of people for their opinions is a waste of time. The kind of names that won’t be criticised are ones like Amelia Mae, Chloe Elizabeth or Olivia Grace – “safe” names. And besides, if you were going to pick a name based on what other people approve of, Charlotte would have agreed to Rosie – Jake’s favourite name, which everyone else likes, including me. But none of that matters, because Charlotte doesn’t really like it.
Baby name discussions should only be held between the two of you, in private. Don’t ask other people for their opinions, and if they offer them, just say something like, “Thank you, we’ll have to think that one over”. Don’t let people see that the process is getting you stressed, because that’s an opportunity for them to “help” you. If they ask how the baby name choosing is going, smile brightly and say, “Oh we’re nearly there – we’ll be announcing the name soon”.
If they make a comment about how long it’s taking, say something like, “I know the time we’re taking must seem a little silly to an outsider”, then change the subject at once. That lets them know that it’s no big deal, and puts them firmly on the outside – and the bigger fuss they make, the more of an outsider they become. It’s a polite way of letting them know it’s none of their concern.
2. Your Name List Should Be Getting Shorter, Not Longer!
I’m bewildered as to how you had five names on your name list before going to hospital, and now you have around fifteen. I know you said that you were having trouble letting go of the names, but you’re still adding to your name list, which means you’ll never pick a name at this rate. You’ve even put names that have been vetoed back on the list!
You’ve got to stop thinking up more names, and just stick to what you’ve got. That means no getting out of the shower with a great name you thought up while shampooing your hair, no wondering if a name you vetoed is really that bad and could still be considered, and definitely no going through four decades of birth registers!
Let’s see what names could be trimmed:
Elsie – I think this name has been ruined for Charlotte by her family’s interference, and she’s gone off it because it’s too much like Rosie.
Rosie – Charlotte thinks it’s a dog name, and too common. I disagree, but to heck with me, it’s not my baby.
Maggie – I’m getting the feeling Charlotte isn’t mad about two syllable names ending with -ie. And Maggie is actually a common name for dogs, so if Rosie is out for those reasons, then Maggie should be triply out.
Edith and Edie – Charlotte doesn’t like them.
Mae – you both agreed it’s too short.
Agnes – Jake has gone off it.
Ida – Jake has gone off it.
Iris – Jake has gone off it
Florence – neither has vetoed it, but you never mentioned it again either, so you can’t be that keen
And what’s left:
Maeve, possibly nn Mae
I think it’s a beautiful name, but you did wonder if it sounded vintage, and I don’t think it really sounds vintage at all – it’s only come into common use in Australia quite recently.
I love the name Fern too, and although some people might see it as hippie, it was quite popular in the late 19th century, mostly in the middle. It does sound botanical with Olive, if that’s an issue. Blog contributor Madelyn suggested Fern as a nickname for Frances – could something like that work?
This is a very dignified name, and I think it does have that gentle image you were after – although it also seems strong. Very much in line with British name trends too.
I think this is bang on for beautiful, soft and sweet, and a nice match with Olive, but if you wanted to get technical, it’s a classic rather than a vintage choice. It seems like a great replacement for Elsie – it’s got a vaguely similar sound, without being so alike that it brings back memories of Elsie (as Elsa would, for example).
Very hip choice, excellent match with Olive, well ahead of the trends. I wonder if it might be too nicknamey for Charlotte’s taste though. If so, what about Eleanor, nn Nora?
This just leaves Mabel, which seems like the obvious choice. It’s beautiful, soft and sweet but still spunky; it literally means “lovable”; it’s vintage-style; it makes an awesome match with Olive; it sounds adorable with your surname, and it’s the name you are already calling her, and have taught Olive to call her.
You’ve said that you’re getting emotionally attached to Mabel, which makes me think that you may have already chosen it without quite admitting it to yourselves. You say that the fact that you haven’t committed to it yet shows it can’t really be that great, but you haven’t given yourselves a chance to.
I know other people have been critical about Mabel, but there’s a good reason for that – you’re slightly ahead of the trends, because Mabel only came back on the charts in the 2000s, and it’s not zooming up in a bothersomely trendy way, but remaining fairly stable. People just aren’t used to it yet because it’s so fresh. And your friend who thinks it’s a scullery maid name? Hasn’t she been watching Downton Abbey – doesn’t she know that “scullery maid names” are hot right now?
I love both the middle names you have picked out, and I think Mabel Birdie Rose is utterly, utterly lovely. It gives you the option of calling her either Mae, Birdie, or Rosie for everyday, and luckily you don’t have to register nicknames so you can take as long as you want to decide which one (or use all three if you want – there’s no law on nicknames!)
If it was up to me, I’d say Mabel Birdie Rose. But it’s not up to me – it’s your privilege to name your daughter, and no one else’s. So what will it be?
Readers, have you ever had terrible trouble choosing a baby name, or been criticised for your baby name choice? And what name would you suggest for Olive’s sister?
Annie Jane (Lucy, Milly)
Avalen Marie Germaine
Brae Winter (Hunter, Ason, Taylan)
Cameron Noelene (Kyle, Cally, Connor, Carson, Constance, Carter)
Caoimhe Maya Constance
Elvy Sue (Ollie)
Helena Kata (Sofia)
Hillary Winnie (Abigail)
Juliet Lily (Charlotte, Dali-May, Ryan)
Koa Amani (Ella, Tate, Mason, Ruby)
Lucia Elizabeth (Thomas)
Nellie May (Poppy)
Olive Patience (Oscar, Hugh, Ivy)
Rose Charlotte (Jack, Harry)
Sharon Sue Kim (Alice)
Sunny Janice Dorothy
Tallulah Judith Calliope (Oberon, Hannah)
Archie Jim (Mitch)
Baiden Miller (Cooper, Deegan)
Bob John (Indie)
Bryson Sydney (Ebbonni, Talia)
Callan Grayden (Xavier, Lexie)
Charles Edward (Olivia, Henry)
Edward William (Julian)
Frank Dylan (Lachie)
Harvey Ryeland (Aislinn)
Otto Ross (Millicent)
Tate Davis (Leo)
Theodore Francis (Jakson, Sullivan, Rafferty)
Timothy Patrick (Benjamin, Melissa, Elizabeth, Victor, Daniel, Walter, John)
(Picture shows the coat of arms on Melbourne Magistrate’s Court, with the state motto, Peace and Prosperity; photo from the Herald Sun.)
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone, and his wife, American actress Lindsay Price, welcomed their second child on September 16, and have named their son Emerson Spencer. Emerson Stone was born in Los Angeles weighing 3.4 kg (7lb 11oz), and joins big brother Hudson, aged 2 1/2. Hudson’s birth was announced on the blog.
Since Hudson was born, Curtis has opened his first restaurant, named Maude, in Los Angeles, and he and Lindsay got married in Spain last year.
Hudson had one of the fastest-rising names of 2012 – will Emerson increase the popularity of his name, or will it be his middle name that rises?
When the name Acacia was featured for Wattle Day, I mentioned that Monty Python made gentle fun of our national flower with their Bruces Sketch, where all the philosophy faculty at the (fictional) University of Woolloomooloo are named Bruce. This seems to be the origin of the notion that Bruce is a particularly Australian name.
Barry Humphries has said that the inspiration for the Bruces Sketch was his Barry Mackenzie character, who began life as a comic strip in Private Eye. Barry Humphries’ television series, The Barry Humphries Scandals, was a precursor to Monty Python, and Eric Idle has cited Humphries as one of his comedy influences.
It’s rumoured, not implausibly, that Humphries himself suggested the name Bruce as an Australian signifier, either directly or indirectly. The name Bruce peaked in Australia in the 1930s, and in Britain slightly later, in the 1940s. Even at its height in the UK, it was only around the bottom of the Top 100, so it wasn’t nearly as common there.
Humphries was born in 1934, so had peers called Bruce. The most obvious example is Australian director Bruce Beresford (born 1940), who directed the Barry Mackenzie films. Like Barry Humphries, Bruce went to England in search of career opportunities, but was unable to break into the British film industry, and found success at home, with movies like Breaker Morant and Puberty Blues, and in North America with Driving MissDaisy, and Black Robe.
The connection between Barry and Bruce continued when Humphries took the role of a great white shark named Bruce in the animated film, Finding Nemo. The American film-makers named Bruce, primarily not as an Australian reference, but after the shark in Jaws, whose models were all called Bruce after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer. Bruce the Shark does have an Australian accent though, and uses ockerisms like “Good on ya, mate!”.
From the United States, the name Bruce gained a different stereotype, being associated with homosexuality. The reasons are unclear, but one of the most popular theories is that it’s connected to the campy Batman television shows of the 1960s, as Batman’s real name is Bruce Wayne. Another is that it is from the 1960s parody song Big Bruce, where Bruce is a camp hairdresser.
Apart from these reasons, it does seem that the “tough guy” names of one generation are often seen as effeminate, dorky, or otherwise laughable by the next. Something to think about should you be considering one of today’s rugged baby names, such as Axel, Blade, Diesel, or Rowdy.
Bruce is a Scottish surname of Norman-French origin. The Clan Bruce are from Kincardine on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, and trace their origins from the French deBrus or de Bruis, coming from Breux in Normandy (now Brix), sometimes said to mean “the willow lands”. This history and etymology is now considered doubtful, due to lack of evidence.
The first of the family on record to come to Britain was Robert de Brus, who accompanied King Henry I there after the Battle of Tinchbray in 1106. He was granted large tracts of land in Yorkshire, and named 1st Lord of Annandale by King David I of Scotland in 1124. A family legend says that the first of their line was Robert de Brus, who came over with William the Conqueror but this is more wishful thinking than fact.
Of course the most famous member of Clan Bruce was Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots from 1306 to 1329, claiming royal blood as great-great-great-great grandson of David I. One of the most famous warriors of his generation, he led Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent nation, with a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. Today he is remembered in Scotland as a national hero.
According to a popular legend, while on the run from the English, Robert the Bruce took shelter in a cave. Here he whiled away the lonely hours watching a spider trying to connect one area of the cave’s roof to another using its web. Each time the spider would fail, but kept trying until at last it succeeded Inspired by the plucky little arachnid, Robert the Bruce returned to defeat the English, winning more supporters, and eventual victory. If you ever read this story as a child, it probably ended by saying the moral was :”If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”.
This story was first told by Sir Walter Scott in in his Tales of a Grandfather: BeingStories of the History of Scotland (1828), and it is believed to have been adapted from a story about Sir James Douglas, Robert the Bruce’s ally and lieutenant. However, the story is very old, being similar to Jewish tales about King David, and Persian stories about Tamerlane and an ant. Apparently people love the idea of beleaguered rulers being inspired by small creatures with exoskeletons.
Robert the Bruce was the high point of the Clan Bruce, although Robert’s son David also became King of Scotland. Various Bruces did historically worthy things, and one of the most famous is Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, who was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. He spent most of his fortune taking sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, which was falling into ruins: today they are known as the Elgin Marbles, and on display in the British Museum.
Bruce has been used as a first name since the 17th century, and was used in both England and Scotland. Although it has plenty of history, Bruce didn’t become a huge success as a boy’s name until the 20th century, which gives it a rather modern feel.
In Australia, Bruce is a classic name which has never left the charts. It was #85 in the 1900s, and peaked in the 1930s at #22. It didn’t leave the Top 100 until the 1970s – perhaps Monty Python wasn’t a help to it, or perhaps after many decades its time of popularity was up. Although uncommon, Bruce has remained stable for years around the 400-500s.
So how Australian is the name Bruce really? Well, apart from the Monty Python sketch (which is, you know, fiction), it peaked earlier here than elsewhere, and peaked much higher than in Britain. However, it peaked only a little higher than in the US, where it is also a classic, and peaked at #25 during the 1950s. Its current popularity in Australia is little different to that in the UK and US, so possibly not quite as Australian as you might have thought!