Celebrity Baby News: Gillon McLachlan and Laura Blythe

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AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, and his wife Laura Blythe, welcomed their fourth child on September 21 and have named their daughter Luna Ivy. Luna joins big sisters Edie, age 8, and Cleo, aged 6, and big brother Sidney, age 4.

Gillon comes from a sporting famiily as his father Angus was a first class cricketer, and his uncle Ian McLachlan, the former Minister for Defence, also played cricket and was President of the South Australian Cricket Association. Gillon is the brother of sports commentator Hamish McLachlan, who has been featured on the blog as a celebrity dad. Gillon himself has played amateur Australian rules football and represented Victoria in polo.

Gillon has been employed by the AFL since 2000, and was appointed CEO in 2014. Gillon and Laura met while they were both residents of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne.

(Photo shows Gillon and Laura with their three eldest children)

Thank you to Brooke from Baby Name Pondering for sending in this story, which was published in the “Herald Sun”. All celebrity baby name tips gratefully received!

August Bartholomew and Chester Alfred

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Twins
Evie and Georgia (twins Oliver and Harrison)

Girls
Ada Mae
Alice Eira
Annalise Joella
Brynn Evelyn
Cassandra Jean Kaye (Maxwell)
Charlotte Jeanette
Clio Madison
Dixie Joy
Edith Mary
Elke Isabel (Lilah)
Ellie Mavis
Elsie Ruth (Gemma)
Freya Anita
Georgie Janet
Indigo Alaskah (Ella, Tate, Mason, Ruby, Koa)
Ivy Stone
Josie Joan (Dougal, Peggy)
Maeve Hilary
Millie Florence
Olivia Juliet “Liv”
Quinn Ivy (Louis)
Reid Louise (Elliot)
Stephanie Victoria
Tess Annie
Vivienne Rose

Boys
Aston Marc
August Bartholomew
Axl Anthony
Chester Alfred (Sonny)
Douglas James
Elliot Charles Lawrence
Felix Leo
Finn Bruce
Harvey Gray
Henry Flynn (Violet)
Julian Ryder
Kobus Michael
Lachlan Thor
Lyndon Patrick (Saxon, Rory, Toby)
Maki Arlo (Keith)
Nixon Josh
Sullivan John (Neve)
Oakley Jackson (Macklin)
Oliver Rory
Oskar Lewis
Otto Roy
Patrick River
Tasman Aiden
Thomas Alastair
Zaylen Cruz (Javier, Zierra)

(Photo shows Iandra Castle (Mount Oriel Homestead), a heritage-listed Edwardian estate near Greenthorpe, NSW)

Celebrity Baby News: Country Music Babies

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Country music singer Mollie McClymont, and her husband Aaron Blackburn, welcomed a son named Ned some time this year. Mollie is a member of the country music trio The McClymonts, along with her sisters Brooke and Samantha.

Country singer-songwriter Sara Storer, and her husband David O’Hare, welcomed a son named Joe in 2015; he joined older brothers Tom, Bill, and Harry, all under the age of 8. Sara has won 18 Golden Guitars at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, seven of them in 2004, which is the most number of Golden Guitars won by a performer in a single year.

(Photo shows Sara and David with sons Tom and Harry, and baby Joe on Sara’s lap: Bill was the photographer)

Famous Name: Esme

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Famous Namesake
Last week it was the 122nd birthday of Esme Fink, born on September 15 1894, and known as “Molly” from her middle name, Mary. She was an attractive blue-eyed blonde with a charming, fun-loving personality, and came from a respectable Melbourne family who had fallen on hard times, so her mother was desperate for Esme to meet an eligible bachelor as soon as possible.

While staying in Sydney, Esme caught the eye of of a middle aged Indian rajah who was there for the races and had become part of Sydney’s elite. His name was Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, and he was the ruler of the princely state of Pudukkottai in British India, today in southern India. Martanda was smitten with Esme, and after a few months proposed marriage.

The happy couple wed almost immediately, and after being sneered at in the Australian press, travelled to India. Right from the start the British authorities were hostile to Martanda’s choice of bride. They had already warned him that a “mixed marriage” would not be formally recognised, and King George V decided that Molly Fink was a dreadful name. The final straw came when Esme became pregnant, and a poisoning attempt was made on her.

Esme and Martanda returned to Australia, where their son Martanda Sydney was born; Martanda became known in racing circles, and Esme as a socialite. They left Australia for London in order to demand recognition of their marriage, but when it became obvious their son would never be acknowledged, Martanda abdicated in exchange for substantial financial compensation.

Esme and Martanda settled in Cannes, where Esme’s friends included the photographer Cecil Beaton, and hostess Elsa Maxwell. Esme loved fashion, and was the first person to ever buy a Schiaparelli evening dress; she known for her extravagance, and eccentricities such as taking a pet tortoise for walkies while dressed to kill.

After her husband’s unexpected death, the Aga Khan proposed marriage to her, but she turned him down in order to live the high life independently. When World War II broke out she travelled to New York with Cecil Beaton and Anita Loos, and with her money frozen because of the war, worked illegally in a department store to make ends meet, while raising funds for Australian and Canadian servicemen.

She was estranged from her son after he was imprisoned for jewel theft, and as her funds dwindled became something of a recluse, taking comfort in alcohol and her Pekingese dogs. She died in 1967, leaving her extensive wardrobe to the Fashion Museum in Bath.

Name Information
Esme is the Anglicised form of Esmé, derived from the Old French word esmer, meaning “esteem, respect, love”, and pronounced EZ-may. It was first given to Esmé Stewart 1st Duke of Lennox, a cousin of King James VII, born in 1542; his mother was French. The name was used for eldest sons in his family for a few generations (the chain was broken after one of the Esmés died young, after which the name wasn’t used again by the family).

Esmé as a boy’s name never really took off, even in Scotland, and by the 19th century Esme was becoming better known as an English name given to girls, although still in some use for boys by the aristocracy, especially those with ties to Scotland.

The reason for its gender switch could have been because it sounds like a cross between Esther and May, or perhaps it became conflated with Ismay, a medieval English girl’s name thought to be derived from the Germanic name Ismagin, meaning “iron strength”. It is better known as a surname (the owner of the doomed Titanic was J. Bruce Ismay), and the surname Esmay is a variant. Ismay and Esme both came into use around the same time in the modern era, and at one time Ismay was usually given to boys – both names became more commonly feminine in the 19th century.

Another possible blow to the name Esmé remaining masculine was the scandalous 1894 novel The Green Carnation, published anonymously but written by Robert Hichens. The lead characters in the novel were Esmé Amarinth and Lord Reginald Hastings, closely modelled on real life lovers Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas. An instant success in both Britain and the US, its readers were shocked and titillated, and a reviewer described it as “impudent … bold … delicious”.

The book had to be withdrawn because it depicted homosexuality, but the damage was done and the novel set the stage for Oscar Wilde’s public disgrace and downfall. The Green Carnation was one of the works used by the prosecution in the case against Oscar Wilde for gross indecency, which saw him sentenced to two years hard labour. Use of the name Esme for boys became extremely rare after the late 19th century, and I can’t help wondering if the book helped cement the idea that the name was not only feminine, but effeminate on a man.

The name Esme has been used several times in literature, quite apart from this scandalising roman-à-clef. J.D. Salinger wrote a short story called For Esmé – with Love and Squalor; Esmé is an orphaned English teenager who befriends an American soldier. The name is referenced in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has a nasty piece of work named Esmé Squalor.

Another villainess is mutant Esme Cuckoo in Marvel’s X-Men series, while powerful witch Esmerelda “Esme” Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld  fantasy series is a force for good. In Saki’s darkly comic 1911 short story Esmé, the title character is an animal and the person who bestows the name does not know its sex, so chooses Esmé as suitable for either male or female. Knowing Saki, it’s hard not to wonder if The Green Carnation helped inspire the choice of name.

More recently the name has featured in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, as Esme Cullen is the gentle, caring vampire den mother. Her name is half the basis for her granddaughter’s name, Renesmee.

Esme was #139 in the 1900s, and peaked in the 1910s at #120 – the same period Esme Fink was in the papers as a society beauty and putative rani. Esme left the charts in the 1950s. Since then it has made a mild come-back, and is around the 600s.

In the UK Esme did not make the Top 200 during the 19th century. However, it has been rising steadily since the late 1990s, and joined the Top 100 in 2008. It is currently #38 and still going strong. One influence on the name may be the British model, DJ and actress Esmé Bianco, who played Ros in Game of Thrones. The name is popular in Scotland, at #57.

Esme doesn’t have a strong history of use in the US, and only joined the Top 1000 in 2010, two years after the first Twilight movie. Numbers have risen, and it is currently #682.

For many years in Australia this name was associated with gossipy old Esme Watson from A Country Practice, but it has been given a new lease of life. It’s a vintage name that feels contemporary and stylish, and by now its masculine origins are long past, although not forgotten. It’s an artistic name with plenty of literary clout, and popular culture has brought it new admirers.

You can spell it Esmé if your state or territory birth registry will allow it (some won’t), but Esme looks neat and pretty, and by now I think nearly everyone knows how to pronounce the name without the aid of an accent. Adding an extra E to spell it Esmée in an attempt to feminise or Frenchify it is redundant, as by now the name already is feminine, and it’s not a French name but a British one.

(Photo is of Esme “Molly” Fink, taken by Cecil Beaton)

Celebrity Baby News: Media Babies

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Talkback radio host Chris Smith, and his partner Susie Burrell, welcomed twin boys on January 24 and named their sons Aengus and Henry [pictured]. Chris presents the afternoon show on 2GB, and, like all shock jocks, is considered a controversial figure. He has two other children from his previous marriage to Ali Smith. Susie is a nutritionist.

Weather presenter Sarah Cumming, and her husband, AFL coach Stuart Dew, welcomed their second child in October 2015 and named their son Jack Harry. Jack joined big sister Frankie, age 3; Frankie’s birth was featured on the blog.

Celebrity Baby News: Jake Stringer and Abby Gilmore

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AFL footballer Jake Stringer, and his partner Abby Gilmore, welcomed their second child on June 2 and named their daughter Arlo Lauren. Arlo joins big sister Milla, age 2, whose birth was featured on the blog. Jake plays for the Western Bulldogs.

Thank you to Ebony from babynameobsessed for contributing this story. All celebrity baby name tips gratefully received!

Name Update: Welcome Twins!

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Rachel and Nicholas were expecting twins, siblings for their first child. They wanted names that fitted in with contemporary trends without being too popular. They picked out names for two girls fairly easily, but later scans revealed that they were having a boy and a girl.

Rae and Nick’s twins arrived safely in July, and their names are

CHARLOTTE MAE and BENNETT GEORGE,

a sister and brother for Mason.

Rae and Nick had a long list of “name rules”, which was making it hard for them to decide on names they really loved. The names they ended up choosing break several of their rules, but sound so lovely together that you can see they did the right thing by picking them.

It’s good to have rules, but always remember – they are your rules, and it’s for you to decide whether you want to follow them.

Unique Boys Names from the 2015 Birth Notices

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These are ten names given to boys which I saw only once in the birth announcements of last year. They are not all rare, but they are at least names you don’t see every day.

Aled
Welsh name, after the River Aled – a small river in Denbighshire in north Wales. Its meaning is not certain, although some have linked it with the Welsh root al-, meaning “wandering”, which suggests the winding flow of a river. Probably more importantly, in modern Welsh aled means “offspring”, making the name seem very suitable as a baby name. A historic namesake is the 15th century Welsh poet Tudur Aled, a nobleman from Denbighshire considered one of the finest poets of his time. Aled has been used as a boy’s name in Wales since perhaps the 18th century, and originated in Denbighshire. Its similarity to the name Allen must have been a help – it basically sounds like Allen with a D at the end instead of an N. A famous contemporary example is Welsh singer Aled Jones, who had a hugely successful career as a young boy, and is now a radio and television presenter. The name is still in use in the UK, although numbers have fallen. A pleasant Welsh heritage choice made familiar through a famous namesake.

Dashiell
English surname which is a corruption of the French surname de Chiel; its meaning is unknown. The de Chiel family were French Protestants who fled to Scotland escaping religious persecution in the 16th century. From here the surname morphed into Da Chiell, Da Shiell, Shiell, and Dashiell – the last seems to be first used in America, when the French-Scottish family migrated to Maryland in the 17th century. Dashiell has been used as a first name since the 19th century and was particularly associated with Maryland. The name has become famous because of the American crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, who wrote such classics as The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man; he received his name because his mother was one of the Dashiell family of Maryland. The name has never been common even in its country of origin, but is now rather fashionable as well as having literary cachet. Actress Cate Blachett welcomed a son named Dashiell in 2001, so this is a celebrity baby name. Pronunciation is a slight issue – Dashiell Hammett said his name da-SHEEL, while these days the name is nearly always pronounced something like DASH-uhl. Said thus, it gives the obvious nickname Dash, as demonstrated by Dashiell “Dash” Parr in The Incredibles.

Eamon
Anglicised form of Éamonn, the Irish form of Edmund. The name became well known because of the American-born Irish statesman Éamon de Valera, who was a force in Irish politics for over half a century. He came to prominence as a leader during the Easter Rising of 1916 and eventually became the country’s president in 1959. Éamon didn’t retire until he was 90, making him the world’s oldest head of state. Éamon de Valera was originally named George, and later had his name changed to Edward, so Éamon was a conscious attempt to give himself an authentically Irish name. Éamon de Valera visited Australia in the 1940s, and had strong links of friendship with the Irish-Catholic community here, especially amongst the priesthood, so the name Éamon or Eamon was very well known here for many years. A famous Australian namesake is the former Olympic swimming champion Eamon Sullivan. An Irish heritage choice which is dated in Ireland, but won’t seem so here, especially as it fits in well with current naming trends.

Gilbert
Germanic name meaning “bright pledge, bright hostage”. The meaning of “hostage” makes some people uneasy, however in the past it was common for political treaties to be accompanied by the exchange of hostages, usually nobles or even royalty, as a guarantee of good faith. The name Gilbert was introduced to Britain by the Normans, and was popular in the Middle Ages. In Scotland Gilbert was sometimes used to Anglicise the Gaelic name Gille Brigte, meaning “follower of Saint Bridget”. There are a few saints with the name, including Gilbert of Sempringham, the son of a Norman lord from Lincolnshire who founded the only English religious order, the Gilbertines; they didn’t survive the Reformation in England. Gilbert was #123 in the 1900s, and left the charts in the 1990s. It returned in 2011, and is now around the 500s. This is a vintage charmer which L.M. Montgomery fans may connect with handsome Gilbert Blythe, the love interest of red-haired heroine Anne Shirley. Comes with the nicknames Gil, Gib, Bert, and Bertie.

Keanu
Hawaiian name literally meaning “the coolness”, and translated as “the cool breeze”. In Hawaii it has been given to both sexes, but mostly to boys. The name has become famous because of Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, who has some Hawaiian heritage through his American father. He’s made a name as a blockbuster action star through The Matrix series, Speed, and Point Break, but is forever famous for the cult Bill and Ted movies. He has a connection to Australia since he lived here as a baby. The Hawaiian pronunciation of the name is keh-ah-noo; Keanu Reeves says his name more like kay-ah-noo, while many seem to say it kee-ah-noo. The strong identification of the name Keanu with the actor may cause some parents to think of it as a “one person name”, although it’s attractive with a nice meaning. On one hand, the Hollywood connection makes the name familiar and easy to deal with; on the other, prepare for people to assume you are a huge fan of Keanu Reeves.

Leif
Scandinavian name from the Old Norse name Leifr, meaning “descendant, heir”. Depending on which part of Scandinavia a person is from, the name is pronounced either LAYF or LIFE. Leif has a very famous namesake, because Leif Erikson was a Viking chieftain from Greenland, the son of Erik the Red. He was described by contemporaries as a strong, striking-looking man who was wise and considerate, and regarded as lucky. Leif converted to Christianity on a voyage to Norway and preached his new-found religion to the Greenlanders. Leif Erikson is perhaps best known for voyaging to a country he called Vinland, somewhere in modern Canada, where he founded a few Nordic settlements around 1000 AD. Leif Erikson not only pushed back the date of European colonisation in North America, he helped give Scandinavian immigrants to the Unites States a special tie to their adopted country. In the United States, Leif Ericson Day is celebrated every October 9. Leif is a slightly dated name in Scandinavia, but feels fresh here. A famous Australian namesake is music industry graphic designer Leif Podhajsky.

Ptolemy
Anglicised form of the Greek name Ptolemaios, meaning “war-like”, pronounced TOL-uh-mee. The name is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as one of the Greek warriors. Ptolemy was a common name amongst the aristocracy of Macedonia, and the name was traditional in a line of Macedonian rulers in Egypt descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals. They were in power for nearly three centuries, and are collectively known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty; one of their most famous members is the ruler Cleopatra. The most famous namesake is Claudius Ptolemy, nearly always known as Ptolemy. He was a Greco-Egyptian Roman citizen who wrote several important scientific treatises on maths, astronomy, geography, and astrology. His work was essential to medieval knowledge, and Christopher Columbus used his work on geography as the map for his famous voyage. There is a Ptolemy mentioned in the New Testament, and two saints with the name. Ptolemy has been used as an English name since the 17th century; it sounds like the English name Tolomy, short for Bartholomew. A rare but very cool name – possibly even a little too cool.

Rayyan
Arabic name meaning “thirst quenching, well-watered, luxuriant”; in the Quran the word is used to mean “splendour”. In Islamic tradition Rayyan is the name of one of the four gates of Paradise, dedicated to those who have fasted often in their lives. A common name in Arabic-speaking countries and communities, this works well in English-speaking countries. Not only is it quite similar to popular Ryan, but the possibility of using familiar Ray as the nickname gives your son the option of complete assimilation in the future. It even sounds very slightly like the English word rain, which fits in with the Arabic meaning. A no-fuss Arabic heritage choice.

Solomon
Hebrew name meaning “peace”. In the Old Testament King Solomon was the son of King David, famed for his enormous political and military power, and fabulous wealth gained through trade partnerships. According to Jewish tradition Solomon used that wealth to build the First Temple in Jerusalem, and his reign was a Golden Age. The Bible tells us that Solomon once prayed for wisdom, and because he did not ask for something selfish, he was granted not only wisdom but many other gifts as well. Legend says he received magical powers, and the ability to control angels and demons! An enigmatic passage in the Bible describes a visit made by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, and the Ethiopian monarchy claimed descent from Solomon. Solomon is credited with writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon – one of the most beautiful works of poetry in the Bible. A central figure in Judaism, Solomon is venerated as a prophet in Islam, and regarded as a saint in Eastern Christianity. Solomon has often been used by Jewish people, East Europeans, and Africans, but has been used as an English name since the Middle Ages in honour of the biblical figure. A wise and peaceful name that might remind people of the Solomon Islands.

Tyrion
A name mostly known through popular culture. Currently it is associated with Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones, played by award-winning actor Peter Dinklage. Born into privilege, Tyrion is despised by his family, and must learn to live by his not-inconsiderable wits. The cynical, debauched, bitterly intelligent Tyrion is a fan favourite, and author George R.R. Martin’s own favourite character from the series. Before that, Tyrion was a High Elf in the the 1980s role-playing game Warhammer, and a wise dragon king in the 1990s German-Australian television series Tabaluga. Tyrion is a variant of the name Tyrian, meaning “of Tyre”. Tyre was a wealthy island-city in ancient Phoenicia whose name meant “rock” because of the formation it was built on; today it is in modern Lebanon. Tyre was famous for its production of expensive purple cloth, only affordable by royalty and aristocracy; the word tyrian can refer specifically to the colour purple, and has connotations of pomp and power. You could also connect the word Tyrian to Tyr, the Norse god of war. Despite these interesting associations, Tyrian and Tyrion have been used only very rarely as personal names; however they seem like fantasy names which can still work in the real world.

(Picture shows Dashiell “Dash” Parr from The Incredibles)

Celebrity Baby News: Radio Babies

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Mark “Soda” Soderstrom and his wife Kate welcomed their third child on September 16, and have named their son Otis. Otis joins siblings Felix, age 3, and Sienna, age 1. Mark is co-host of The Breakfast Show on Mix 102.3, and his radio partner Jodie Oddy queried the choice of the name Otis (in a way which implied a name like Otis needs some explanation). Mark revealed that he had seen the name Otis while getting into a lift: Otis are an American company well known for manufacturing elevators.

Alison “Ali” Hill and her husband Brandon welcomed their third child on August 8, and have named their son Seth Alexander [pictured]. Seth joins siblings Samuel, age 10, and Hannah, age 20. Alison is a singer and actress who is a radio presenter on 97.3 Coast FM in Mandurah.

Aurora Belle and Lyric Blossom

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Twins
William and Clara (Leanna)

Girls
Alice Ruby
Amelia Rain (Memphis)
Annika Esther Lee (Christian)
Aurora Belle
Brooklyn Rosanne
Charissa (Ziggy)
Elektra Siahna-Marie (Mekhai, Jazmyne)
Eloise Violet (Isaac)
Florence Eden
Frances Domenica (Marcus, Anneka, Juliet)
Grace Dorothy
Hazel Aileen
Imani Grace (Braeden)
Ivy Meg (Mateo, Mia)
Juno Joyce Valerie
Katalina Joy (Beverley-Anne)
Lilah Esme (Samantha)
Lyric Blossom (Memphis)
Maria Rose
Nora Grace (Eva)
Olive Harriet
Phillipa May (John, Lauren, Xavier, Duncan, Lachlan, Josephine, Maxmilian, Emilia)
Sienna Ariel (Quinn)
Sylvia Rae (Evelyn)
Tilanie Jane (Angelina)

Boys
Abel Jessie (Blade, Archie)
Alfie George
Archie Richard (Banjo)
Boaz John
Charlie Gus (William, Henry)
Corbin Wyatt (Lachlan)
Duke (Seth, Coen, Fenn)
Emrys Llewyn
Fraser Taylor
Henry Laurence
James Arthur “Jak”
Jozef William (Magdalena, Zofia)
Jude Thomas
Landyn Oliver
Leo Xavier (Arielle Rose)
Max Orlando
Noah Gianni (Ruben, Levi)
Oscar Ronald (Adeline, Elsie)
Otis Michael (Daisy)
Raife Maxwell
Rainan Jediah (Rafael)
Ryder Stirling
Ted David (Thomas, Zoe, twins Henry and Harry)
Theodore Bernard (Alexis, Mackenzie)
Thomas Hedley

(Photo of wattle blossom from the Cootamundra Herald)