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This follows on from Girls Names from the Top 100 of the 1900s. Once again, I’ve tried to get a balance between those names coming back into fashion, and those which haven’t charted for a while; once again, it is based on data from New South Wales. If you are attracted to names like these for boys, you should check out Abby’s two parter at Appellation Mountain – Fetching Names: The Nevilles, as many of her suggestions are very much in tune with this style.
This is derived from the Germanic name Adalbert, meaning “noble and bright”, which was common amongst German royalty. It was introduced to England by the Normans, where it readily overtook the Old English form, Æðelbeorht. A rare name by the 17th century, it came back in the 19th, as Prince Albert was the name of Queen Victoria’s dearly loved husband, born in Germany. Famous Australians with this name include Albert Matthews, the last Gallipoli veteran to die, in 1997, and popular long-time entertainer, Bert Newton. Albert is a classic name which has never been out of use; it was #12 in the 1900s, and didn’t leave the Top 100 until the 1950s. It’s remained relatively stable for several decades, and is currently in the low 300s. Albert is one of those names which sound slightly “grandpa” while remaining steadily in use. It’s a good reliable choice, and Alby, Bertie and Bert all make cute nicknames.
The Norman-French form of Germanic Alberich, meaning “elf power” or “elf ruler”, which replaced the Old English equivalent, Ælfrīc. The name was used for both sexes during the Middle Ages, especially amongst the aristocracy, but gradually fell out of use. It was revived in the 19th century, possibly influenced by the surname. There have been a few famous men in Australia named Aubrey, including motorcycle racer Aubrey Lawson, and Australian rules footballer, Aubrey Mackenzie. Aubrey was #59 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 in the 1930s. It hasn’t charted since the 1950s. Aubrey may seem old-fashioned and effete to some people; others may think it sounds feminine, due to the popularity of similar-sounding girls’ name, Audrey. However, this unisex name is certainly in use as a boys’ name, and I have actually seen it on more boys than girls, with parents of girls often preferring specifically feminine spellings such as Aubree or Aubrie. I think it sounds handsome and dashing, and Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander (played by Russell Crowe in the film) even helps give it a nautical air. The usual nickname is Aub or Auby.
The French form of the Roman family name Claudius. The Claudii interpreted their name as from the Latin claudus, meaning “lame, crippled”, but according to legend, the first of their house was not Roman, but Sabine, and his family name was Clausus or Closus. When he joined the Romans, his name was Latinised. The Claudii were very proud of their Sabine heritage, very powerful, and had a reputation for arrogance and haughtiness. The name Claude became common in France during the Middle Ages due to the 7th century Saint Claude of Besancon, a monk to whom many miracles are ascribed. The name was brought to Britain by the aristocratic Hamilton family of Scotland in the specifically male form Claud; being Scottish they naturally had ties to France. Australian Claude Choules was the last surviving male World War I veteran in the world until his passing last year. Claude was #49 in the 1900s, left the Top 100 in the 1930s, and hasn’t charted since the 1970s. The name still packs a patrician punch, and namesakes such as painter Claude Monet and composer Claude Debussy make it seem quite artistic as well.
Used as a short form of Francis or Franklin, but is a name in its own right, referring to the Germanic tribe of the Franks. They conquered most of Gaul, which was later named France in their honour. A powerful tribe, they were the ultimate founders of what would later become the Holy Roman Empire, controlling much of Europe. The meaning of their name is disputed; it may mean “javelin” after their weapon of choice (although the weapon might have been named after them, not the other way around). Another theory is that it meant “bold, fierce”; the Romans sometimes addressed or referred to them as “the fierce people”. The English word frank, meaning “free, honest” is named after the Franks, and is not the source of the name. The most well-known Australian called Frank is probably charming comedian Frank Woodley. Frank’s a classic that has never been off the charts; #27 in the 1900s, it didn’t leave the Top 100 until the 1970s. It’s currently having a growth spurt in the low 400s. Brisk, sensible Frank is a worthy choice for someone wanting an old-style replacement for popular Jack. The usual pet form is Franky.
Derived from the Old English name Hereweald, meaning “army leader”; the Old Norse form Haraldr was also common amongst Scandinavian settlers in England. It was popular amongst the royal houses of Norway and Denmark, and the two kings of England named Harold were of mixed Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon ancestry. It was Harold II who was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings, leading to the Norman Conquest. Not surprisingly, the name died out almost immediately, but was revived by the Victorians. The most famous Australian with this name is former Prime Minister Harold Holt, who disappeared in 1967 at the beach, and is presumed drowned, although many conspiracy theories have existed. Oddly enough, there is a swimming centre named after him. Harold was #13 in the 1900s, peaked in the 1910s, left the Top 100 in the 1940s, and remained in (rare) use until the early 2000s, with a dampener put on it by Mr Holt’s watery demise. Until recently, I would have said Harold made a great way to get the popular nickname Harry – unfortunately, Harry is rapidly falling. It’s got some challenges, but I do like this noble and besieged name.
From the Germanic name Raginald, meaning something like “well-advised ruler”. The Normans brought it to Britain in the forms Reinald and Reinold; there were already Old English and Norse forms in use there. Reginald is the Latinised form of all these variants, and is another of those names from the Middle Ages which made a comeback in the Victorian era. There are many well known Australian Reginalds, including popular actor Reg Livermore, and Sir Reginald Ansett, the founder of Ansett Airlines. Reginald was #20 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 in the 1960s. It hasn’t charted since the 1980s. Reginald may seem very fusty and pompous – then again, that’s exactly what people would have said about Archibald a few years ago, and now it’s quite fashionable as a way to the nickname Archie. I don’t really see what makes Reggie any different from Archie, Alfie or Freddie, which makes Reginald a genuine contender.
A German form of Robert, this was introduced to Britain in the 17th century by Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of King Charles II of England. When still young, he was appointed commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War; after the Restoration he returned and became a senior naval commander. Prince Rupert was a man of fashion who also was one of the founders of the Royal Society and a patron of the arts – he made the name seem distinctly aristocratic, and perhaps slightly flamboyant. Famous Australians with the name include artist Rupert Bunny and media mogul Sir Rupert Murdoch. Rupert was #97 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 the following decade; it left the rankings in the 1940s. Very recently, it has entered the charts again, and is currently climbing in the 400s. Rupert seems to be making a comeback – perhaps Rupert Grint from the Harry Potter movies has given it a more likeable, down-to-earth image. It’s certainly handsome, and Ru would make a cute nickname.
An English surname meaning “stony meadow”; it comes from the place name Stoneley in Staffordshire. It has quite an aristocratic heritage, for the Stanleys were Earls and Barons, prominent in the Conservative Party, and at times, one of the richest landowning families in Britain. Members of the Stanley family have held high political office, including Prime Minister, been connected to royalty, and generally a force through the pages of British history. Sir Lyulph Stanley was part of this august clan; he was Governor of Victoria and held several other important posts in Australia. Great men called Stanley from our nation include tennis champion Stanley Doust, and legendary cartoonist Stanley Cross; the Stanley Award for cartoonists is named in his honour. A classic which has never left the charts, Stanley was #22 in the 1900s and left the Top 100 in the 1950s. It has remained stable since the 1960s. It’s an oldie but goodie, made to seem quite cool since Dido gave her son this name last year, named after the song Stan, by American rapper Eminen. It seems eminently usable, and sturdy nickname Stan is right on trend.
This is from the Roman name Vincentius, derived from the Latin for “to conquer”. Its meaning made it popular amongst early Christians, who no doubt wished to indicate that they were ready to conquer sin, and there are several martyrs of the church with this name. A later saint with this name is the 16th century French priest famous for his works of charity, St Vincent de Paul. Vincent was used in Britain in the Middle Ages, but didn’t become common until the 19th century. Vince Jones is an Australian jazz artist, and Vince Melouney was one of the founding members of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, so it’s a very musical name. Handsome and romantic, Vincent is a classic which has never left the charts or been out of the Top 200. It was #47 in the 1900s, and left the Top 100 in the 1950s; the lowest it’s ever been is #179 in the 1970s. It’s usage has been erratic, but generally improving since then, and it’s currently in the mid 100s. Prince Vincent of Denmark, son of Princess Mary, may help it along further. Vin, Vince and Vinnie are all used as nicknames.
From the Germanic name Willahelm, meaning something like “willing helmet”, or “strong-minded protection”. William of Gellone was a cousin of Charlemagne, and an 8th century Norman count who defeated an army of Moors and forced them to retreat to Spain; his deeds are immortalised in the epic poem, Chanson de Guillaume (Song of William). In case this didn’t make him famous enough, he founded a monastery, gave it a piece of the True Cross, and became a monk, being declared a saint after his death. This made William a favourite name amongst the Normans, and when a Duke of Normandy called William invaded England in 1066 and was crowned king, it became the most commonly-used name in his kingdom. There have been four kings of England/Britain called William, and if Prince William attains the throne, he will be William V. Australia has had two Prime Ministers named William – Hughes and McMahon. Solid classic William has never left the Top 50; it was the #1 name of the 1900s and is #1 today. This never out fashion name is very versatile, because although William is so dignified, its nicknames Will, Bill and Billy are simple and unpretentious.
(The picture is of a prospector on the gold fields in 1904; image held by Museum Victoria).
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