Radio host Matt Acton from SeaFM, and his wife Esther, welcomed their first child together on February 20, and have named their son Zander Jeremiah. Zander Acton was born at Pindara Private Hospital on the Gold Coast at 9.23 pm, weighing 3.57 kg (just under 8 lb), and measuring 51 cm. Zander joins big brother Ethan, aged 11. Matt and Esther chose the name Zander early in the pregnancy, but kept it a secret. If anyone asked what the baby’s name would be, they told them Felix – a name they liked, but which had become too common in their area for them to use.
Artist David Bromley, and his wife Yuge, welcomed their daughterWen last year. Wen is a Chinese name meaning “culture, literacy”. David has had more than 30 solo exhibitions, and is considered one of Australia’s most collectible artists. Yuge is a former criminal lawyer who has become a fashion designer. The Bromleys own a store called In This Street in Byron Bay.
Sydney businesswoman and former reality TV contestant Yasmin Dale welcomed her daughterMillie last year. Yasmin took part in the 2006 Channel Ten reality show, Yasmin’s Getting Married, which was supposed to find Yasmin a husband, and arrange and pay for her wedding. The show was axed after just one week, so Yasmin never did get married. She separated from Millie’s father, and is currently dating: she has no plans to marry in the future, and if it happens, it won’t be on television.
(Photo shows Matt, Esther, and Ethan with baby Zander)
Last week there were commemorations around the world for the centenary of the start of World War I. I chose the name Hope to mark this solemn occasion, because even during those dark days, when the “lamps went out all over Europe”, there still remained a glimmer of hope for eventual peace.
Britain declared war on Germany on August 4 1914, to take effect at 11 pm. Less than four hours later, the first shot was fired by the British Empire – not in Europe, but thousands of miles away at Point Nepean, near Melbourne.
On August 5 1914, at 12.45 pm, the German cargo ship SS Pfalz was in Port Phillip, desperately trying to leave Australian waters, for they were now in enemy territory. Just minutes after learning that war had been declared, Fort Queenscliff gave the order to Fort Nepean: “Stop her or sink her”.
The first shot was sent across the bow, fired by Sergeant John Purdue. The Australian pilot Captain Montgomery Robinson, who was guiding the Pfalz through the heads, tussled with the German captain for a little while, because Robinson was adamant the Pfalz must stop, or the next shot would go into the ship.
The Pfalz, which was carrying consular officials and contraband, surrendered and was requisitioned by the Australian navy. Her crew were captured and interned, so nobody was killed or even injured. So quietly began the war which would claim 16 million lives and change the world forever.
I also chose to feature Hope because it feels as if the world has become a darker place in the last twelve months. Every day I hear of war and strife, of fear and cruelty, of genocide and bloodshed, of my countrymen and women lying in foreign fields, or at the bottom of the sea.
At such times, all one can do is light a little candle against the darkness, and its flickering flame, which sometimes wavers, and sometimes leaps up tall and strong, is hope.
Hope is a familiar vocabulary word which suggests confident optimism and positivity, a belief that things will improve, or an expectation that a good outcome will be achieved.
Hope is one of the three theological virtues in Christianity, along with faith and love. It refers to the hope of attaining heaven, and means much more than a vague optimism – it’s a complete trust in God’s guidance, and a firm assurance of a reward in the next life.
Saint Hope is one of a trio of legendary martyred saints named Faith, Hope, and Charity, the daughters of Saint Sophia (Wisdom). Their story is very old, and they are clearly personifications of theological virtues. There is also a male Saint Hope, a 6th century Italian abbot.
Modern psychology also views hope in a very favourable light, with many seeing it as harnessing the power of positive thinking to overcome difficult circumstances. Like religion, it also sees hope as more than just optimism, being stronger, and more goal-oriented. While an optimistic person has a passive “something will turn up” attitude, a hopeful person actively works towards the attainment of their desires.
Hope makes an appearance in Greek mythology, in the story of Pandora, who curiously opened a jar which released all the evils of the world. When everything had gone, only Hope remained in the jar. The Greeks generally depicted Hope as a young woman carrying flowers in her hands, and the Romans worshipped her as a goddess, and a power which came from the gods.
Hope has been used as a girl’s name since the late 16th century, and although name sites often say it was first bestowed as a virtue name by the Puritans, there isn’t much evidence of that. In fact, early births suggest that it may have orignally been inspired by places, such as the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, or Hope Cove in Devon.
These place names don’t have anything to do with being hopeful, but are from an Old English word meaning “a small enclosed valley”; it’s one of the sources of the Hope surname. However, later on a Christian meaning does seem more obvious. The name Hope has sometimes been given to boys as well, and you may remember that war hero Hugo Throssell had Hope as one of his middle names.
The name Hope was #247 in the 1900s, and has been on the charts almost constantly, only dropping out for brief periods. It began rising in the 1970s, and seems to have peaked in 2010 at #177; currently it’s in the 200s.
Interestingly, the name seems to have gone down a little in popularity since the sitcom RaisingHope has been on the air; the baby who gives her name to the show’s title is called Hope Chance, and her father changed her name from Princess Beyonce, given to her by her serial killer mother. The eccentric Chance family may have dampened enthusiasm for the name.
I often see the name Hope in birth notices and newspaper stories, most often in the middle, and I think in almost every case, the name was given because the baby was conceived against the odds, or born in difficult circumstances. It adds an extra layer of meaning to the name Hope.
Hope isn’t as popular as Grace, or climbing in popularity like Faith, but that may make this underused classic virtue name all the more desirable. Simple, clean, sweet, and wholesome, it’s a pretty name evoking a state of mind almost magical in its power. May your little Hope glow like a candle in the darkness, may she shine like a star in the night sky.
Kara is the bubbly, friendly blogger at The Art of Naming, which she has been regularly maintaining, along with a host of social media, for a year now. Kara genuinely loves helping parents find the perfect name, and as well as personal assistance, she provides name lists, birth announcements, and featured names which includes possible name combinations and sibsets. As you can tell from her photo, Kara is expecting a baby in the near future, and if you read this interview very carefully, you will find out what her name will be.
What is your name?
Have you ever wished you had a different name?
Yes! I’ve always wanted a different name but I’ve never been able to pinpoint which name would better suit me. Kara fits just fine, I’ve just never liked it or Yvonne. Sorry mom! I would consider changing it if I could find the perfect replacement.
How did you become interested in names?
I was into playing The Sims as a teen, so I began browsing naming sites to choose names for the characters. By seventeen, I was making long name lists for future children (or Sims), and it snowballed from there.
What inspired you to begin a name blog?
Once I discovered that I was somewhat good at forming first and middle name combinations, (or I at least really liked doing so), I began frequenting forums to help parents find the perfect name. Then I decided to focus all of that into one place and help people on my own turf. It’s been over a year since I started the blog and I’ve helped many people, which is why I started it to begin with.
Do you have a favourite post on The Art of Naming?
I really dislike a misspelled name. I like names with standard spellings (with a few exceptions) and I like names to have some solid history behind them, and a good meaning. So I guess my pet peeve is made-up names, or those that you have to think about for a few minutes before you attempt to pronounce them.
What are some of your favourite names?
Some of my favourites that I won’t be using include girly names like Magnolia, Freya, Coraline, Esme, Lavinia, Aveline, and Amara. For boys, I like August/Augustus, Benedict, Caspian, Constantine, Dante, Jack, Rafferty, and Silas. I can’t help but love unexpected middle names like Essence, Wintress, Frost, or Marvel.
What names do you dislike?
I really can’t stand some of the more trendy names. The whole –aiden trend, for example. Any name with an unnecessary Y or H inserted in there is a no-no. I also dislike the majority of K names, except for Irish ones like Killian. I think that stems from the dislike of my own name, plus recent trends in pop-culture, like the influx of Kardashians. Don’t get me started on names like Nevaeh. I also am not a huge fan of unisex names.
Are there any names you love, but could never use?
There aren’t any names that I can think of that I could never use, there are only names I was never able to use. I like to believe that in another dimension, I totally used all the names on my guilty pleasure list. The weirder the better! I think we’re stopping at two kids for now so my actual naming days are quite possibly over. Maybe I’ll get some fish.
What are your favourite names in the US Top 100?
Girls: A secret! But third and fourth are Emma and Caroline. Boys: James… no, Henry.. no, Jack!
What are your favourite names in the rest of the US Top 1000?
Girls: Juliet …. Boys: Maximus and Vincent.
What are your favourite names that have never charted in the US?
What is your son’s name?
Maximus Alexander. We chose it for a number of reasons but we also really loved the meaning: ”greatest defender of the people”. We’ve already tasked him with protecting his baby sister and he seems to like the idea, but then again he’s only two.
You’re currently expecting another child – are we allowed to know her name?
She will have a first name and two middle names. The first name is one that we mutually fell in love with and decided on when we first saw an ultrasound picture of her cute little face. The second name is Juliet. And the third name is after my husband’s sister, even though it is extremely popular. I’m sure I’ll reveal it on my page in the next week or two.
What is one thing we don’t know about you?
I am currently in the process of writing a name book. I just need to try a little harder to focus on finishing it. Writer’s block is killer when combined with pregnancy hormones, but I hope to be able to release it in the not-too-distant future! Stay tuned!
What advice would you give someone who was choosing a baby name?
I always encourage people to go with their instincts. If they really love a particular name and can’t get it out of their head, that’s the one. Do not let family or friends influence you. Do not share your names in advance if you can help it so that you can keep them safe: name theft is real! Compromise is difficult between partners but it is totally achievable. Keep your mind open to new name ideas but cling to those you love the most. Sentimental value is always most important; if you have a wonderful reason for loving your name choice, it doesn’t matter at all how popular it is or if someone else has used it. Go for it anyway!
(Picture is a recent photo of Kara, supplied by interviewee)
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games ended on Sunday, a very friendly games where Glasgow gave everyone a warm welcome. It was the first time England had won since 1986, and those games were also held in Scotland. In fact, it was a great Games for the British, with England, Scotland (fourth), and Wales (thirteenth) all winning more medals than they ever had before, in something of an Olympian afterglow.
At the closing ceremony, the baton was passed on to Australia, because the next Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast in April 2018. Let’s hope we’ll have better uniforms for that. Oh and by the way – it poured with rain the last few days of the Glasgow Games, but our team was warm and dry in their jumpers and anoraks, so who’s laughing now?
Now the Games are over for four more years, this is the end of our Scottish names. I picked the name Clyde because that was the mascot for the Glasgow Games, a cheery looking thistle named after the River Clyde, which flows through the city of Glasgow.
As an Australian reference, I picked Campbell for the Campbell sisters, Cate and Bronte, who did so well in the swimming. Between them they won five gold medals, so as many as Wales, and if they were a country they would have come fourteenth in the medal tally. They were also on the team which set a world record for the women’s freestyle relay.
Clyde is a Scottish surname, given to those who lived along the River Clyde. The Clyde is the third largest river in Scotland, and has its source in the Lowther Hills, in Scotland’s Southern Uplands. It meanders west across the country, and empties into the Firth of Clyde, the largest and deepest coastal waters of the British Isles.
The river’s Gaelic name is Chluaidh, which probably means “cleansing”. It may be related to the Latin cloaca, “sewer, drain”. Clyde has been used as a first name for boys since around the 18th century.
One of my favourite Australian Clydes is Clyde Fenton, a flying doctor in the years before WW II, who piloted his own plane as well as serving as a medical officer in the Northern Territory. Known for his kind and determinedly helpful nature, as well as his great resilience, he was famous for his daring rescues, lively escapades, and madcap pranks, which usually got him into trouble with the authorities. Although fairly indifferent to his own personal safety, he surprisingly lived into his eighties.
The name Clyde was #104 in the 1900s, when Clyde Fenton was born, and peaked in the 1910s at #96. It left the Top 100 in the 1920s, and hasn’t charted since the 1950s. Although it’s a dated name, it has never been really popular, and perhaps isn’t as tied to a particular era as you might think. Interestingly, this name just reached the Top 1000 again in the US, so seems to be having a comeback there.
The name sounds big and capable to me – perhaps because of Clydesdale horses. These Scottish horses were so important in colonial Australia they were called “the breed that built Australia”.
Campbell is a Scottish surname. The Clan Campbell are one of the largest of the Highlands clans, and became one of the most powerful families in Scotland. The Campbells had a reputation for being good soldiers and fighters, but lacking in diplomacy and cunning. The chief of the clan is the Duke of Argyll, in the Peerage of Scotland. The current Duke is Torquil Campbell, and his son and heir is Archibald Campbell, who is around ten years old – I think you will remember that Archibald is a traditional name in the Campbell family.
The name Campbell comes from Cam Beul, a Gaelic nickname meaning “crooked mouth, wry mouth”. The first person given this nickname is said to have been Dugald on Lochawe in the 12th century, who supposedly had a habit of talking out of one side of his mouth.
The name was originally Cambel, but as early as the 14th century it began to be spelled with a p, perhaps because the Norman knights at the Scottish court who were responsible for administration misunderstood it as from the Norman-French camp bello, “beautiful plain”. Campbell has been used as a (mostly male) first name since the 17th century.
Campbell began charting in the 1960s, debuting at #302. This is the decade British speed enthusiast Donald Campbell made several attempts in Australia to break land and water speed records, finally achieving success in 1964, when he broke both the land speed record on Lake Eyre in South Australia, and the water speed record on Lake Dumbleyung in Western Australia.
The popularity of the name Campbell went up steeply in the 1990s, the decade when sound-alike Cameron reached its height and began falling, and peaked in the early 2000s at #181. In New South Wales it seems to be somewhere in the 300s, but in Victoria it is around the high 100s. In the past, it has managed to be a Top 100 name in Tasmania.
It would be interesting to see how Queensland premier Campbell Newman affects the popularity of the name, since politicians generally don’t give names a boost, and Campbell Newman is extremely unpopular, according to the polls. In fact, it will be interesting to see whether he is still premier at the next Commonwealth Games. I do see Campbell quite frequently in birth notices, but not in Queensland, I must admit.
(Premier Newman was born in the 1960s, just as the name Campbell hit the charts, and a year before Donald Campbell broke the speed records in Australia, so his parents were naming trail-blazers.)
Campbell is a strong, handsome Scottish choice which has managed to become a modern classic without ever becoming popular. This makes it a desirable option for parents seeking a name that is familiar without being common.
Two Scottish surnames-as-first-names – but which one is better?
The Archibald Prize this year was won by Fiona Lowry, for her portrait of architect Penelope Seidler. The Art Gallery of NSW trustees, who are the judges of the Archibald, seemed to avoid controversy this year by awarding the $75 000 prize to an overwhelming favourite.
Fiona first saw Penelope Seidler six years ago at a gallery opening, and was struck by her beauty and presence; she decided then that she would like to paint her. The portrait was begun at Penelope’s home, Killara House, a heritage-listed Sydney icon which she designed with her husband, the famous modernist architect Harry Seidler.
Fiona’s paintings are made with an airbrush and a limited range of soft pastel colours, creating an often unsettling atmosphere seen through a fine mist. I can’t help thinking that Clarice Beckett would give a wry smile … and that once again, Penelope proves a winner!
The name Fiona was created by the 18th century Scottish poet James McPherson, and first used in his famous Ossian poems, which were a great influence on the Romantic movement, and instigator of the Gaelic revival. MacPherson pretended his poems were “translations” of ancient Gaelic poems, but could never produce the originals, and it is now agreed that while he based them on old ballads, many of the stories and characters are from his imagination.
In the Fingal section of the Ossian poems, MacPherson wrote: Let the sons of Fiona rise, on the lone plains of her lovely Ardan. Fiona is a not a person, but a feminine personification, like Erin or Brittania, or Lady Liberty. But a personification of what?
You may recall that the Irish hero Finn McCool’s warriors were called the Fianna. Although that looks as it means “Finn’s men”, fiann means “soldier, warrior, hero” in Old Irish, and fianna is its plural. Fianna can thus be translated as “war band”. Although the Fianna come from mythology, it is believed that such bands did exist in medieval Ireland; young men and women of the nobility who had not yet come into their inheritance and had no lands of their own.
Fiona is James MacPherson’s transcription of Fianna, which he may have written to make it look as if it was derived from Fionn, or Finn, meaning “fair, white”, in order to give his Fingal the status of the great Irish hero Finn McCool. You might see MacPherson’s “Fiona” as a personification of Celtic pride, independence, and fighting spirit.
Baby name books often try to claim Fiona as a feminine form of Finn or Fionn, but in medieval Gaelic, adding an -a to a name did not make it feminine. Instead -nat or -sech were used, so the feminine forms of Finn are Finnat and Finnsech (genuine medieval names). Just to confuse things, Fíona is a modern Irish name meaning “wine”. Although some people take Fiona as an Anglicisation of Fíona, it’s more that an Irish meaning was found for an existing name.
Fiona was used as a pseudonym by the Scottish writer William Sharp. Although already a distinguished poet, biographer, and literary editor, he chose to sometimes write romantic novels and poetry as Fiona McLeod – which he feared would not be accepted if it was known he was the author. William Sharp edited the Ossian poems, which is most likely where he found the name Fiona.
William Sharp had a love affair with a woman named Edith Wingate Rinder, and it was those works inspired by his passion for Edith that he attributed to “Fiona McLeod”. The poetry he wrote under the influence of this inspiration is considered his greatest work, and the Fiona McLeod novels proved so popular that they brought him financial success. You could say that “Fiona” was the name William gave his feminine side, and tapping into it unleashed a wave of creativity.
The secret of William Sharp’s dual identity only became publicly known after his death, when his wife revealed that her husband was the author of all works by Fiona McLeod. It was after Fiona McLeod became a popular novelist that the name Fiona became well known, so while James MacPherson may have created it, it was another Scottish writer who spread its use.
Fiona first charted in Australia in the 1950s, making an impressive début at just outside the Top 100 at #105. The reason for its sudden appearance on the charts is the 1954 film Brigadoon, based on the Broadway musical of the same name. It’s about two American men who are hunting in Scotland when they happen upon a miraculous village which rises out of the mists every hundred years for just one day. One of the men falls in love with a girl from the village named Fiona Campbell (Fiona McLaren in the original musical), played in the film by Cyd Charisse. The magic and romance of the story were clearly a hit with Australian audiences.
By 1960, Fiona was #57, by 1961 it was in the Top 50 at #47, and by 1967 it had just scraped into the Top 20. Fiona reached its peak in 1970 at #14, and was last in the Top 100 in 1986. A famous fictional Fiona during the 1970s was matriarch Fiona Cleary, from Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, although by this time the name was falling in popularity.
If you judge the name Fiona purely as a name nerd, you must admit it has some black marks against it. It’s a “made up” name, and furthermore, not even a name made up for a character – it’s basically the Khaleesi of the 18th century. It was popularised by a man pretending to be a woman, in part to obscure an extra-marital affair. It’s not the most promising name history of all time.
Fiona leapt into the charts out of nowhere due to popular culture – a musical film which was a box office success, but received lukewarm reviews. It was a “trendy” name that climbed in popularity very suddenly, then sank again at almost the same rate. It’s a “dated” name, in that it is dated to a particular era – you can be almost sure that someone named Fiona was born somewhere between Brigadoon and The Thorn Birds 1983 mini-series, and most likely between the late 1960s and mid-1970s (Fiona Lowry was born in 1974).
But isn’t it tiresome to always judge names through the lens of nerdism? Because in spite of all this, I think Fiona remains a pretty, delicate name with a fascinating literary history. It has a romance to it – a name created by a poet who changed the face of literature, made well known by a writer who had a talent he never knew existed until he fell in love, brought to popularity through a miraculous love affair.
I like the fact that such a gentle-sounding name has a war-like meaning; it’s a warrior princess of a name. Despite being dated, Fiona doesn’t sound particularly dated – it even has a fashionable OH sound in the middle. There are tons of Fionas in current popular culture, including Princess Fiona, the feisty green ogress from Shrek.
If you love the name Fiona, take heart – it is no longer plummeting in popularity, but relatively stable around the 300-400s, and can claim modern classic status. Furthermore, in the United States, which is much slower to appreciate British (especially Scottish) names, Fiona only began charting in the 1990s and has been gradually climbing ever since.
I have a family member who is a massive fan of the Shrek movies, and especially of Princess Fiona. Sometimes I think I will be a grandmother to a little Fiona, and the idea doesn’t displease me at all.
Anzac Day for Baby Anzac
After I covered the name Anzac on the blog, I received several e-mails from people insisting that it was illegal for babies to be named Anzac in Australia, and that my post should be altered to reflect that. I have seen babies in birth notices with this name, but my correspondents refused to believe me, as I had no proof of this (which is fair enough – imagine if I believed all the people who said they knew twins called Lemonjello and Orangejello).
Because of this healthy scepticism, I am posting a story about a baby named Anzac Judd from Bowraville, near Nambucca Heads in northern New South Wales. Unfortunately, it’s a sad story, because Anzac passed away from a spinal disease when only a few months old. On Anzac Day this year, Bowraville held a golfing and bowls day in Anzac’s memory, and even though the circumstances are heartbreaking, it shows that Anzac Day can mean more to you when you have a baby Anzac.
Danger is His Middle Name for a Reason Robbie Danger Russell of Darwin was born with an extremely rare and little-understood genetic condition that meant doctors held out little hope of him surviving birth. Robbie did survive, despite multiple medical conditions, and at one year of age, still has the eyesight doctors expected him to have lost by now, although his prognosis is still very poor. Robbie’s mother Jennifer seems to have chosen the middle name Danger as a sign of the hazards that lay ahead of him, and that he lives with every day.
I know readers love to know what fashionable people are naming their children, so here’s a quick profile of interior stylistSibella Court who has a little shop in Paddington, and a daughter named Silver with her partner Ben Harper. Silver is pretty, and very much like mum’s name, but Silver Harper is a little race-horsey for my tastes.
And if you’d like to know what is in style, Sibella recommends vases of fruit and foliage, black walls, random surfboards, painter’s ladders, 1950s seashell collections, Union Jacks, vintage life-vests, and subway tiles. But for goodness sakes, don’t do any of this, because the story is from March, and that’s all TOTALLY LAST SEASON.
Sibella also had a pet pig named Wilbur, but pigs either went out of style, or now it’s bacon, the story didn’t really explain. Love the name Wilbur though!
One of the family, Tegan Couper of Shellharbour, is pictured with her baby son Hype. It’s a very unusual name, almost a virtue name really. I kept wondering if it was short for something, but could only think of Hyperion, which seemed even less likely, in a way.
Supposedly Seen – Sheen
Brisbane comedienne Mel Buttle wrote a piece about her childhood pet, a beloved dog named Benny, which she named after a boy named Ben she liked at school. In case we don’t think that’s an impressive naming story, she said she knows a baby who was named Sheen, after Charlie Sheen.
Not sure if that’s just a joke, but Sheen doesn’t seem that bad (if you put aside the Charlie Sheen part for a moment). The Irish surname Sheen is derived from a personal name which meant “peaceful”, and it almost sounds like a masculine form of Sheena, or a variant of Shane, as well as the appeal of English word sheen, meaning “lustre”.
Mel’s new dog is named Molly.
The Gods on Television
There was a new television program on ABC1 this autumn called The Gods of Wheat Street. Set in Casino in New South Wales, it’s about an Aboriginal family named Freeburn who have to let go of the past after their mother Eden‘s death, with the help of a bit of magic. Head of the family is Odin, and his siblings are Ares, Isolde, and Tristan, while Odin’s daughters are named Electra and Athena. The names may possibly help the trend for mythological names (and seem informed by said trend).
On July 28, it will the 106th birthday of pioneering stateswoman Dame Annabelle Rankin, who was the first woman from Queensland to sit in the Parliament of Australia, the second female Australian Senator, and second female parliamentarian for the Liberal Party.
Annabelle was the daughter of Colin Rankin, a Scottish-born Queensland politician who served in both the Boer War and First World War; Annabelle was named after her mother. Her father encouraged her to travel, and when she left school, she went to China, Japan, England, Scotland, and continental Europe. With a background in community involvement, she worked in the slums of London, and with refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
Back in Australia, Annabelle was a volunteer during World War II, serving at air raid shelters and hospitals, and organised the YWCA’s welfare efforts for servicewomen. Her responsibilities involved travelling to military bases in Queensland and New South Wales, and she accompanied Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States of America, and Lady Gowrie, wife of the governor-general, on their visits to the troops.
After the war, she stood as a candidate for the Liberal-Country Party, and entered the Senate on July 1 1947. Annabelle was the first woman in the British Commonwealth to be appointed as an opposition whip, and was the whip in the Senate from 1951 to 1966.
Dame Annabelle was appointed Minister for Housing in 1966, becoming the first woman in Australia to administer a government department. As minister, she worked to provide housing for old age pensioners, and introduced a housing system for Aboriginal Australians and new migrants. As a newspaper of the time helpfully noted: “She tackles men’s problems too”.
After retiring from parliament in 1971, Dame Annabelle was appointed high commissioner to New Zealand – the first woman in Australian to lead a diplomatic mission. She supported several community organisations, including the Australian Red Cross Society, Country Women’s Association, Girl Guides, Victoria League, and Royal Commonwealth Society.
She was for many years the President of the Queensland branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, and the Dame Annabelle Rankin Award for services to children’s literature in Queensland is given in her honour. Another of her namesakes is the Annabelle Rankin, one of the ferries on Sydney Harbour.
Dame Annabelle was easily recognisable from her auburn hair and warm brown eyes, and combined a cheerful, friendly demeanour with a strong, uncompromising will, and apparently tireless energy. She was an excellent orator, and very capable of handling the occasional heckler (by no means were all the hecklers male, either).
While researching the name Annabelle, I noticed quite a few people seemed to think that the name Annabelle sounded “unprofessional”, and predicted that a woman named Annabelle could never be taken seriously in public life. If nothing else, the career of Annabelle Rankin proves this to be completely untrue.
Annabelle is a variant of the name Annabel, which originated in Scotland during the Middle Ages. Although it is sometimes treated as a cross between Anna and Belle, this isn’t plausible as it pre-dates the common use of the name Anna in Scotland.
It’s assumed to be a variant of the Latin name Amabel, meaning “lovable” – the long form of Mabel, and close relation to familiar Amy. It may have been influenced by the name Agnes (“pure”), which was said (and often spelled) Annas at that time.
The Annabelle spelling probably has been influenced by Anna and Belle in the modern era, and is often understood as meaning “graceful and beautiful”. Although this isn’t very good etymology, the name is a bit of a hodge-podge, and you might feel free to translate it as you wish.
The names Annabel and Annabelle have long been favourites with the British peerage, both English and Scottish, which gives them a rather aristocratic air. I tend to feel that Annabel is a bit more “posh”, while others may think that the Frenchified Annabelle seems more stylish and “finished”.
Annabelle has charted in Australia since the 1970s, when it debuted at #580. Since the 1980s it has risen steeply, and it entered the Top 100 in 2000, at #92. It entered the Top 50 in 2007, when it reached #46, and although it wobbled a little here and there, it is now at the highest point it has ever been.
Currently it is #44 nationally, #35 in New South Wales, #50 in Victoria, #43 in Queensland, #47 in Western Australia, #61 in Tasmania, and #36 in the Australian Capital Territory.
Annabelle is also Top 100 and climbing in the US and the UK, but is more popular here than anywhere else, making Annabelle one of those unexpectedly Australian names. Annabelle is also Top 100 in New Zealand, but isn’t rising in popularity.
Annabel has charted in Australia since the 1960s, entering the rankings at #420, but while it also rose steeply during the 1980s, hasn’t become popular, and is still in the 100s. Annabel is only just outside the Top 100 in the UK, but is stable rather than rising, which is probably similar to the situation here. In the US, it is rising steeply, but only in the high 400s, so a long way off popularity.
Annabelle is a pretty, elegant, ultra-feminine name that’s well on its way to becoming a modern classic (while Annabel is already there). It fits in so smoothly with the trend for -belle and -bella names that it’s become quite popular, and may become more so.
Although it wasn’t originally linked to the names Anna and Belle, it might be used to honour people with those names, or similar names. Possible short forms abound, but all the the Annabelles I’ve ever met have only used their full name – it strikes me as one of those relatively long names that are somewhat nickname-resistant. There’s plenty to love about adorable Annabelle!
Thank you to Brooke for suggesting the name Annabelle to be featured on Waltzing More Than Matilda
Ashby is a residential northern suburb, first developed in the late 1990s. It is named after the original landowner, Mr E.E. Ashby, who lived here before World War I. Ashby is a surname which means “farm among the ash trees” in a mixture of Old English and Old Norse; it is more common in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and the East Midlands, which have a history of Scandinavian influence. Ashby has been used as a name for boys since the 17th century, and seems to have been especially popular amongst Puritan families. The town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire was an important centre for Puritan preaching and education, which may be an inspiration for the name. Ashby isn’t rare in Australian records, although more common as a middle name, and has occasionally been given to girls. I saw this is a boy’s middle name in a birth notice, and thought this might make an appealing Ash- name for boys, which seems more obviously masculine than Ashley. Unfortunately, it could easily be confused with Ashley too.
Bentley is 8 km south of the city, and is the location of the main campus of Curtin University. The area has been settled since 1830, and was developed in the post-war period with government housing, including homes for returned servicemen. Today Bentley is very varied: it has a light industrial area, but part of it is still used for grazing. The suburb is named after John Bentley, a veteran of the Crimean War who arrived in the Swan River Colony as a pensioner guard, and supervised convicts building what is now the Albany Highway. Bentley is a surname after the common English place name, meaning “bent-grass meadow”; bent-grass refers to rushes or reeds. Bentley has been used as a boy’s name since the 17th century, and has recently leaped up the charts in the United States to become a Top 100 name. Its jump in popularity is attributed to a baby named Bentley on reality show 16 and Pregnant. In Australia, Bentley is around the high 100s, which is still a lot more popular than it is in the UK. People often connect the name to the luxury car company, founded in 1919 by W.O. Bentley.
Bertram is a new suburb of the City of Kwinana, in Perth’s south (for more information, see Leda in Perth Suburbs That Could Be Used As Girls Names). It is named after an assisted migrant from the 1920s, who came here under the group settlement scheme. Bertram is a Germanic name which means “bright raven”; it was introduced to Britain by the Normans. A famous Australian namesake is Sir Bertram Stevens, who was Premier of New South Wales in the years before the Second World War. Bertram has been quite a popular name in fiction, including the main character of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well. Unfortunately, Bertram is not, on the face of it, a very sympathetic character, although he gets his regulation happy ending anyway. Another fictional Bertram is Bertie Wooster, from P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves books; a good-natured idler, this Bertram is not without charm, although perhaps not the most sturdy namesake. The short form Bertie would be very cute though.
Carlisle is south of the CBD, and close enough to offer views of the city. Originally farmland, it was developed in the late 19th century, and is a fairly typical older suburb. The name Carlisle was chosen by the suburb’s ratepayers, who called it after the northern English city of Carlisle in Cumbria. Their logic was that just as Cumbrian Carlisle is famously near the border between England and Scotland, so was Australian Carlisle right on the border between the city of Perth and its suburbs. However, it is interesting to note that one of the landowners at the time was named Carlisle; it is possible his surname put the idea in the ratepayers’ minds. Carlisle is an ancient city which was one of the most heavily fortified towns of pre-Roman Briton: its name means “stronghold of the god Lugus”. Lugus was one of the most prominent of the Celtic gods, and the Romans identified him with Mercury, as he was known as a god of trade and skill. Carlisle has been used as a boy’s name since the 18th century, and was originally used most often in Cumbria. It has recently received some interest since the name was chosen for one of the more sympathetic vampires in the Twilight series.
Falcon is one of the suburbs of Mandurah, a coastal city 45 km from Perth, within the metropolitan area. It is popular with tourists and retirees, making it the least affordable city in Australia. Falcon has a number of beaches, and is named after Falcon Bay, which is pronounced FAWL-kin, rather than FAL-kin – an earlier English pronunciation of the word. Falcon was a yacht whose crew won a silver medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, and many of Falcon’s streets are named for yachts. Falcon has been used as a boy’s name since medieval times – there is even an obscure St. Falcon, and Falcon was the middle name of Antarctic explorer Robert Scott. The name may be from the Latin Falco, meaning “falcon”, or derived from the Germanic name Fulco, meaning “people”. I did find a few Falcons born in Australia, and for some reason they were nearly all South Australian. In Australia, this name will remind people strongly of the car, the Ford Falcon, and perhaps also the slang term in rugby league for being accidentally hit in the head by the ball. I’m not sure whether the pronunciation will make any difference.
Murdoch is in the south, and the home of Murdoch University. The university is named in honour of Sir Walter Murdoch, a former chancellor of the University of Western Australia, and its founding Professor of English. Sir Walter was a essayist famous for his wit and intelligence, and an active proponent of international peace and justice, political freedom, women’s rights, and affordable childcare. His great-nephew is the media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The surname Murdoch is the Anglicised form of two Gaelic personal names that became conflated with one another, and were written as Muireadhach. One name was Muiredach, meaning “mariner”, and the other was Murchad, meaning “sea warrior”. Muireadhach was a traditional name amongst the Earls of Monteith, and Murdoch has seen particular use in their seat of Perthshire. Murdoch is commonly found in Australian records amongst Scottish families, but although we have enthusiastically embraced Lachlan, Murdoch has been less successful. Fun fact: Murdoch was an early name crush for a particular Australian blogger, which makes you wonder if this could have been a contender without the prominent Murdoch family.
Samson is a small suburb of Fremantle, a southern port city in the Perth metropolitan area. The suburb was only developed in the 1970s, as before this it had belonged to the army, and was a military camp during World War II. The suburb is named after the Samson family, who have been prominent in the Fremantle area for nearly two centuries. Sir Frederick Samson was mayor of Fremantle for twenty years, from the 1950s to the 1970s, and his home, Samson House, is one of Fremantle’s landmarks. The suburb of Samson contains Sir Frederick Samson Park, Fremantle’s only bush reserve. Sir Frederick was the grandson of Lionel Samson, a wealthy Jewish merchant who settled in the Swan River Colony in 1829 and became one of its most successful pioneers. Popular for his charm and wit, respected for his integrity, the business he founded is still run by the Samson family, making it Western Australia’s oldest family business. Samson is one of the most famous characters in the Old Testament, a judge of the Israelites known for his superhuman strength. His name is from the Hebrew for “man of the sun”, leading some scholars to suspect he was originally a sun god, or demi-god. Samson was in use as an English name during the Middle Ages, and there is a Welsh St Samson, one of the Apostles of Brittany. This is a very masculine name which provides another way to get the popular short form Sam.
Sawyers Valley is on the eastern fringe of Perth’s outer suburbs, and 40 km from the city. Its name came about because it was originally a saw mill and timber processing area. It’s now a semi-rural suburb in the bush-covered hills surrounding Perth. Sawyer is an occupational surname for someone who sawed wood for a living – and in the days when most things were made of wood, an important trade. Sawyer has been used as a personal name since the 17th century, mostly as a male name. In Australian records, I can only find it as a man’s first name, although not unusual as a female middle name. Sawyer doesn’t chart in Australia, but has been in the US Top since 1991; it had a huge jump up the charts after Steven Spielberg chose the name for his son in 1992. In America, it is a unisex name, but more common for boys. Although it is in rare use here, I have seen it a few times, on both sexes. Its most famous namesake is Tom Sawyer, the young scamp from the stories by Mark Twain, while it has also been alias for Josh Holloway’s character on Lost.
Stirling is a residential suburb 10 km north of the city. The area has a multicultural history, because in the 1920s it attracted retired Chinese miners from the goldfields, returned servicemen from the First World War, and many Italian migrant. It became a successful market gardening region producing almost every vegetable possible, some for export. Even after development in the 1960s and ’70s, the suburb remains one of Perth’s most ethnically diverse, with a third of the population having Italian heritage, and many from Macedonian, Greek and Asian backgrounds. The suburb is named after James Stirling, who was the first governor of Western Australia, and who lobbied for a colony to be founded on the Swan River. Stirling is a Scottish Clan name which comes from the city of that name in central Scotland; it is known as the “Gateway to the Highlands”. The meaning of its name is not known, although folk etymology says that it is from the Gaelic for “place of battle”. Another theory is that it is British, and means “dwelling place of Melyn”; the name Melyn is said to mean “yellow-skinned, sallow-skinned”. Stirling has been used as a boy’s name since the 18th century, and was first used this way in Stirlingshire. I have seen this name quite a few times in birth notices, and it’s one with a great deal of dignity.
Warwick is in the northern suburbs of Perth, and a large section of it is still native bushland. It originally belonged to a railway company, and is named after Warwick Road, the major road which goes through it, and pre-dates the suburb’s development. It may have been inspired by Warwick Road in London. The name Warwick comes from the English city of Warwick in the Midlands; its name means “dwellings by the weir” in Old English, as the River Avon flows through it. It’s pronounced WOR-ik. The Earl of Warwick is one of the most prestigious titles in the British peerage, and Guy of Warwick a legendary English hero, which may help explain why Warwick has been used as a boy’s name since at least the 16th century. However, it seems to have originated in Devon, in the seat of a family named Warwick who belonged to the minor nobility. Warwick first charted in the 1910s at #203, joining the Top 100 in the 1940s, where it peaked at #80. It left the Top 100 in the 1960s, and hasn’t charted since the 1990s. Famous Australians with this name include the racing driver Warwick Brown, and flamboyant former AFL star, Warwick Capper.
(Photo shows the entrance to Sir Frederick Samson Park, in Samson)
Aveley is a neighbourhood of the town of Ellenbrook – an outer suburb in the north-east which is projected to be a future satellite city. Avely is named after a small town in Essex, where the Belhus estate was located: this stately home was once visited by Queen Elizabeth I, and had grounds landscaped in the 18th century by the famous Capability Brown. One of the early settlers to the Swan River Colony in 1829 was Edward Pomeroy Barrett-Lennard, the grandson of Lord Dacre, who owned Belhus. Edward Barrett-Lennard was assigned more than 13 000 acres in the Swan Valley, and his eldest son George purchased a large tract of land which he named Belhus after the family estate: it is this which eventually became Aveley. The name Aveley is Old English and means “Aelfgyth’s meadow”; Aelfgyth is an Anglo-Saxon woman’s name meaning “elf battle”. Avely is also a surname, and has been in rare use as a personal name since at least the 16th century. Historically more common for males, Aveley fits so well with current trends in female names that it seems more suitable for girls. Pronounced AV-uh-lee, this is a pretty, modern-sounding name with a feminine meaning and interesting history.
Carine is an affluent suburb 14 km north of the city. The area was once owned by the wealthy Hamsersley family, who came to the Swan River Colony in 1837, and before being developed in the 1960s, it was primarily used for farms and market gardens. The suburb’s name comes from the local wetlands, which are now known as Big Carine Swamp and Small Carine Swamp. Their names are a corruption of Careniup, the Noongar name for the wetlands, which means “the place where bush kangaroos graze”; it has the same origin as nearby Lake Karrinyup. The tranquil wetlands provide a home for rare water-birds and other native wildlife. Carine is already used as a girl’s name, the French form of Carina; it can be said in several different ways, but the Australian Carine is kuh-REEN. You would be hard pressed to find anything more Australian than “kangaroo” as part of a name’s meaning, and this is attractive, although perhaps slightly dated-sounding, due to its similarity to Karen, Caroline, and Corinne.
Floreat is an exclusive suburb 8 km north-west of the city, close to beaches and filled with parkland. As well as swanky boutiques, it is also well known for its sporting facilities, including Perry Lakes Stadium, which was used for the 1962 Empire and Commonwealth Games, and has now been replaced with the Western Australian Athletics Stadium. The suburb’s name is Latin for “let it flourish, let it prosper”, which is the official motto for the City of Perth (and has been fulfilled, for the city has grown rich on the back of the mining boom). Floreat has been occasionally used as a unisex name since the 18th century. In Australian records, it has mostly been used as a middle name, and examples from Perth may have been named for the city’s motto. In Australia, Floreat has been more commonly used as a girl’s name, due to its similarity to Florence, which has the same Latin origins and meaning. With Florence now fashionable, and girl’s names ending with a T sound, like Charlotte and Violet, popular, Floreat seems a surprising choice as a name, but not an outrageous one.
Jindalee is a new outer suburb in Perth’s far north. Because development has only just begun, the beaches are almost untouched, and it is surrounded by bush, scrub, and heathland. The name Jindalee is believed to mean “a bare hill” in an unknown Aboriginal language of New South Wales; there is a town of Jindalee in New South Wales, and a suburb of the same name in Brisbane. The name may refer to Eglinton Hill in Jindalee, which provides views of the sea. I only found one person in Australian records with the name Jindalee, and it was in the middle; although he was a man, to me Jindalee seems feminine, and could be shortened to Jinny or Jindy. This is a lively name which seems quintessentially Australian in its flavour.
Kiara is a quiet leafy suburb in Perth’s northern suburbs. Its name is from an Aboriginal word for “white cockatoo”, and it is not a Western Australian word, but one recorded in the Coffs Harbour region of New South Wales. The “white cockatoo” in question is probably the sulphur-crested cockatoo, a large, handsome, intelligent, curious, and very loud bird, native to the eastern states and far north of Australia. Australian parents seem to have a great fondness for girls’ names beginning with K, and this name sounds much like Italian Chiara, but with a distinctive Australian meaning. The name Kiara has charted since the 1980s, and first joined the Top 100 in 1999 at #67, peaking in 2005 at #49. It left the Top 100 in 2011, and is currently in the low 100s. It’s no longer popular, but still getting plenty of use.
Leda is one of the suburbs of the City of Kwinana, a coastal centre in Perth’s far south known as a working-class industrial area. Several of Kwinana’s suburbs are named for ships, and the brig Leda brought settlers to the Swan River Colony in 1830. The name was appropriate, because in Greek mythology, Leda was a queen of Sparta whose beauty attracted the attention of the god Zeus, who seduced her in the guise of a swan. Queen Leda didn’t have any unnatural interest in swans – the god-swan fell into her arms for protection while escaping from an eagle. Swans are one of the few birds which have a penis outside their body, like mammals do, and after this the specifics are left to our imaginations. Some artists and poets have depicted the act as a rape, while others show Leda as not just consenting, but positively enthusiastic. The same night, Leda lay with her husband, and from these biologically confused couplings, she gave birth to two eggs – one of which contained the ravishing Helen of Troy. Helen’s birth was commemorated by her father Zeus, who placed the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, in the sky. The meaning of the name Leda is not known for sure; it may be from the Lycian for “woman, wife”, and is pronounced LEE-duh. Simple and elegant, this is a name from Western Australian history which also references Perth’s Swan River.
Myaree is a light industrial suburb 11 km south of the city. Its name is said to come from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “plant leaves, foliage, greenery” (rather inaptly, given the suburb’s purpose). Myaree has been used as a baby name, although not apparently in Australia: it may have been an Anglicisation of an Arabic girl’s name, or a name created from other name elements. Apart from the pleasant meaning of Myaree, and its multicultural possibilities, in many ways it seems quite on trend, because of popular Maya, trendy Marley, and fashionable Myra. In other ways, it seems slightly dated, because of its similarity to names such as Maree and Nyree. To me it’s rather appealing and contemporary, while not unfamiliar in sound.
Quinns Rocks is in the outer northern suburbs of Perth. It was first settled in the 19th century by a family of sheep farmers called the Clarksons, who used it as pasturage. In the 1930s it was a place for seaside holidays, with many people building beach shacks along the coast. It began to be developed as a residential area in the late 1950s, and was declared a town in the 1960s. The beautiful white beach is the suburb’s major feature, and still attracts holidaymakers. The suburb gets its name from an offshore reef, and is believed to have been called after Robert Quin, a 19th century government surveyor who made the first records of the area. Another theory is that it is named after Mick Quinn, one of the Clarksons’ shepherds who had a shack in the area. Why it should be named after this shepherd in particular is not related, and the congruence of names seems most likely. Quinn is a common Irish surname, an Anglicised form of the Gaelic mac Cuinn, meaning “son of Cuinn”. Cuinn (which is Anglicised to Conn) means “head, chief”. The surname’s originator is Art mac Cuinn, a High King of Ireland; according to legend, he and his father Conn of the Hundred Battles, also a High King, had dealings with a fairy woman. The Quins were one of the noble families of Ireland, but the line came to an end a few years ago. Quinn is rising rapidly as a unisex name, and currently seems to be almost equal between the genders, while also performing well as a middle name. Expect to see more Quinns in the future.
Serpentine is a small town on the very fringes of the metropolitan area, 55 km south-east of the city, on the railway line between Perth and Bunbury. The town is named after the nearby Serpentine River, so called because of its meandering course. Serpentine has been used sparingly as a name since the 19th century, and in Australian records is found mostly as a middle name, divided fairly evenly between males and females. Most of the Serpentines were from the Perth area, making me think they were named after the river. Serpentine is a problematic name, because while serpentine means “winding, curving” (like a serpent), it can also mean “crafty, deceitful”. The second meaning is an obvious allusion to the serpent in Genesis, who leads Eve into temptation. While this may give some people the jitters, serpents are also ancient symbols of wisdom and healing, and are often depicted guarding sacred places; a serpent holding its tail in its mouth is a symbol of eternity. In Australian Aboriginal myths, the Rainbow Serpent is a significant deity, symbolising life and fertility. Strong and mysterious, sinuous Serpentine may be easier to bear as a middle name.
Viveash is a secluded riverside suburb in the city’s north-west. It is named after Dr Samuel Waterman Viveash, a prominent pioneer who arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1838, and took up farming. Viveash is an English surname whose origins are disputed; it may be Anglo-Norman, and come from the French vivace, meaning “lively, vigorous”. However, because it is pronounced like “five ash” with a V instead of an F at the start, it is often linked to places in southern England called Five Ash Trees. Viveash has been used as a personal name for both sexes, almost exclusively found in the middle position. Examples from Australian records are all from Western Australia, and nearly all from the Perth area, making it likely they were named in honour of Dr Viveash. Viveash is a very unusual name, but is vaguely similar to Vivian and Ashley, while having a distinct sound and feel of its own.
In March, Canberra was named Australia’s most liveable city, scoring highly in design, cleanliness, outdoor recreation, education, and safety. This was in a survey of residents conducted by the Property Council of Australia.
Now data collected by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that the Australian Capital Territory has the highest levels of well-being in the country, with perfect scores for income, safety, and civic engagement, and near-perfect scores for health, jobs, education, and access to services.
The OECD report highlighted the differences between regions in member countries, and unfortunately the report showed that Australia had the greatest regional inequality of any OECD country, with Tasmania doing the worst in terms of income (6.1 while the ACT is 10). And while the ACT scored 9.9 for health, and 10 for safety, the Northern Territory received 4.1 for health, and a truly dismal 1.4 for safety.
Because the OECD was examining the regions of each country separately, it also shows that the Australian Capital Territory is performing extremely well on a global scale – in fact, it is officially the best place to live in the world, with Canberra coming first, then Western Australia second, followed by three regions in Norway. (The study also showed places similar to the ACT were western Norway, Stockholm, New Hampshire, and South-East England).
However, even though the ACT is, we now learn, the greatest place on the planet, it probably won’t lead to millions of people flocking there in search of cleanliness and safety. Not only because there isn’t the infrastructure for millions of people, but because Australians love to despise their capital as cold, boring, sterile, and full of politicians.
As a result, when people move to Canberra, especially those who have come from other countries, they are often pleasantly surprised to find themselves in a setting of great natural beauty, within easy driving distance of both the beach and the ski slopes, and, well, somewhere generally safe and clean and all those things which sound boring, but are actually nice to have.
Most of the Australian Capital Territory is taken up with national parks, which is why it is called “the bush capital”, and so I am covering two names from the mountains of the ACT region.
Mount Franklin is one of the higher mountains in the Brindabella Ranges, on the border of the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. The mountain’s summit is on the ACT side, and it is 1646 metres (5400 feet) high. It was once the hub of Canberra’s ski community, and it is still open for cross-country ski-ing, snow play, and bush walking.
Mount Franklin is close to Brindabella Station, which was built by the pioneering Franklin family in the 19th century. It was the childhood home of the famous author and feminist Miles Franklin, whose autobiographical novel My Brilliant Career tells of a spirited young woman growing up in rural New South Wales. Under the pen name Brent of Bin Bin, she wrote a series of novels about a station called Bool Bool in the mountains of south-eastern New South Wales, based on Brindabella, and in later life, she wrote a memoir called Childhood at Brindabella. Brindabella Station is still a working farm, and it is possible for visitors to stay on the property.
The station is named after the Brindabella Range itself, part of the Australian Alps which can be seen to the south-west of the capital. The Brindabellas are often taken for granted by Canberrans, but they are beautiful in their diversity, from imposing high crags in the mist, to rolling farmland nestled snugly in sun-dappled valleys between dark forests. The play of light and cloud never stops moving across the ranges, and each day in the mountains seems to end with a spectacular sunset.
The name Brindabella is said to mean “two hopping mice” in a local Aboriginal language. Hopping mice are native Australian mice with long tails, large ears and strong back legs; they can hop about just like a rabbit or a kangaroo. Another theory is that brindy brindy meant “water running over rocks”, and that Europeans added a -bella at the end, to suggest “beautiful”.
Franklin is an English surname, which doesn’t denote an occupation so much as the person’s social status. In medieval England, a franklin was a free man – one not in servitude to anyone. It came to mean someone who owned land, but was not a member of the landed gentry or aristocracy. The franklin was the beginning of an English middle-class: those who owned property, and could even be quite well off, yet were not of noble lineage.
The word franklin comes from the Latin francus, meaning “free”, which is the origin of our English word frank, meaning “free, liberal, honest”. You might remember that frank comes from the Germanic tribe of the Franks, who conquered Gaul, which was named France in their honour. The country’s name was the inspiration for the name Francesco, so Franklin is a linguistic relative of the names Frank and Francis.
Franklin has been used as a boy’s name since the 17th century, and it has been used more often in the US, where it has never left the Top 1000. One of the name’s most famous namesakes is inventor Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and another American namesake is the president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin and Brindabella seem like names which might appeal to those who love the outdoors, especially the mountains. At the same time, they might equally find favour with those who love Australian literature, and may be especially meaningful for those who have a connection with the area around the Brindabellas.
Although neither of them have ever charted in Australia, their short forms are on trend, because Franklin can be shortened to the fashionable Frank or Frankie, while Brindabella naturally shortens to popular Bella – although Brin would not sound strange as a nickname. You may recall the American-born triplet with a Canberran father named Brindabella, and I have also seen a baby named Bryndee-Bella, in apparent allusion to the mountain range.
(Picture shows a view of the Brindabella Ranges, including Mount Franklin; photo from Weatherzone)