aristocratic names, celebrity baby names, classic names, famous namesakes, Gaelic names, germanic names, Irish name popularity, name popularity, name trends, Old French names, royal names, saints names, UK name popularity, US name popularity
Last week I covered an Australian actor who hit the big time during Hollywood”s Golden Age. So I thought we would finish the month by looking at the names of two contemporary Hollywood film stars born in Australia.
Hugh Jackman had a career in stage musicals and on Australian television before he got the breakout role of Wolverine in the 2000 X-Men film. As well as gaining success with this franchise, he has continued in musical threatre, most famously portraying Australian singer-songwriter Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz.
Among his other major roles are the heroic Jean Valjean in the musical film Les Misérables, and leading man Drover in Baz Luhrmann’s romantic epic Australia – it came out in 2008, and in the same year Hugh was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Most recently he appeared in box office flop Pan as the wicked pirate Blackbeard. Not even super trouper Hugh could save this stinker.
Margot Robbie got her start on soap opera Neighbours – something which was offered to Hugh Jackman at the start of his career, but he turned down. Playing the kooky Donna Freedman for three years made Margot a household name in Australia and Britain, but her dream was always to go to Hollywood.
Her breakout year was 2013, when she appeared in About Time, and The Wolf of Wall Street. In both these films, her character was a focus of desire, and her stock soared. Next year we will see her as comic book villain Harley Quinn. She has just been named the Sexiest Actress Alive by Glamour Magazine – getting on a “sexiest list” was good publicity for Hugh, and hopefully for Margot too.
English form of Hugues, Old French form of the Germanic name Hugo, meaning “mind, thought, sense, understanding”.
An early namesake is Hugh the Great, a 10th century Duke of the Franks and Count of Paris; his son Hugh Capet became the first King of France, forging the powerful House of Capet who were to produce thirteen generations of French kings. This royal seal of approval made the name popular amongst the Frankish nobility in the Middle Ages.
The name Hugh was brought to England by the Normans, where it was in common use for the Norman aristocracy – the English spelling comes from the Picardy form of the name. The name Hugh was used to Anglicise the Gaelic names Aodh and Uisdean, making it common in Scotland and Ireland as well.
The name was boosted by the popular St Hugh of Lincoln, a French nobleman who became bishop of Lincoln in the 12th century. He had an attractive personality, did many charitable works, tried to protect Jews from persecution, and was a great animal lover who befriended a wild swan. As a result, he is one of the most popular of the English saints. St Hugh’s College at Oxford University is named after him, as the college’s founder was the daughter of a Bishop of Lincoln.
Hugh is a classic name which has never left the charts. It was #65 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 in the 1930s, reaching its lowest point in the 1970s at #212. After that it rose until it made a minor peak at #136 in 2009 (the year after Hugh Jackman starred in Australia) and is now around the mid-100s and fairly stable.
The name Hugh was been almost constantly on the US Top 1000, and was most popular in the late 19th century. It dropped off the charts in 2008, and is currently #869 and fairly stable. In the UK, Hugh had a solid run in the Top 100 from the middle of the 19th century until the 1960s, and has never been out of the Top 400. Currently it is #352 and stable. Hugh is probably most popular in Ireland, where it has been on and off the Top 100 in recent years.
Hugh is a classic name that has been in use for over a thousand years. Although it hasn’t been popular for almost a century, it’s barely been out of the Australian Top 200, and has been stable for years. That makes it a very reliable choice, quite different to the swift-rising popular Hugo. Of royal origin, Hugh is aristocratic, yet comfortably unassuming, and under the radar.
Pet form of Marguerite, the French form of Margaret, meaning “pearl”.
Margot was used amongst royalty and aristocracy: a famous example is the 16th century Margaret of France, who was named Marguerite, but called Margot. Beautiful and fashionable, Margot was queen both of France and Navarre, and wrote her memoirs during 18 years imprisonment by her brother. She helped inspire Shakespeare’s comedy, Love’s Labour Lost, and is the subject of Alexandre Dumas’ historical novel, La Reine Margot.
Margot first entered the charts in the 1930s at #233, when Dame Margot Fonteyn began her career at the Vic-Wells Ballet School, and was appointed principal dancer. It peaked in the 1950s at #218, and left the charts in the 1980s, when Dame Margot had retired, and no longer presenting TV shows on ballet. Margot was more popular in Victoria, where it made the Top 100 in the 1930s.
In the US, Margot has been on and off the Top 1000 several times without ever getting into the Top 500. Its most successful period was between 1929 and 1955, correlating with the peak of Dame Margot Fonteyn’s career: it reached its highest point in 1938 at #586. It returned to the Top 1000 in 2013, the year of Margot Robbie’s Hollywood success. Currently it is #747, and apparently rising.
In the UK, Margot has generally been on the rise since 1996, and had a significant boost into the Top 1000 in 2009, around the time Margot Robbie joined the cast of soap opera Neighbours. It began rising steeply in 2013, and is currently #415.
In 2012, Margot was in the 600s in Victoria, but seeing the very strong international trends, it would be remarkable if the name had not risen significantly in 2013 as it did in other countries, and is in all likelihood still rising.
This is another French royal name, but has quite a different feel to solid Hugh – far more glittering, and with a fashionable O-sound ending. Ushered onto the charts by a supremely talented dancer, it has again been brought into the spotlight, and given further starpower by being chosen as a celebrity baby name. Little wonder that parents are wondering just how popular Margot will become in the future.
As Margot Robbie has been such a strong influence on the name, it will be interesting to see how the elegant name Margot fares once Suicide Squad is released, with Margot Robbie playing the crazed super-villain Harley Quinn. Will it gain an ever wider audience of fans?
(Photo shows Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street)