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586419-river-boysThese are the boys’ names which became markedly more popular last year. I think the list lacks the depth of the one for girls, with far less diversity. There is only one classic name for boys, and eight of the names are surnames – six of these ending in N. While the girls’ list shows names which are currently trending, I think a couple of these could be legitimately identified as trendy.

Braxton

Braxton is without doubt 2012’s Name of the Year, joining the national Top 50 from nowhere. It was the #1 fastest-rising name nationally, in New South Wales and South Australia; made the top 5 fastest-rising names in Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia; and went up in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Currently it is #31 in Australia, #51 in NSW, #81 in Victoria, #25 in Queensland, #44 in SA, #34 in WA, #65 in Tasmania and #70 in the ACT. Braxton is an English surname of disputed origin. It is a corruption of an English place name; perhaps Branxton in Northumberland, meaning “Branoc’s settlement” (Branoc is a Celtic personal name derived from the word for “raven”). Braxton has been used as a personal name since the late 18th century, and originated in the United States – Carter Braxton was one of the signatories to the American Declaration of Independence. Here it is known from the Braxton brothers on soapie Home and Away; three members of a thuggish surfer gang, and sexually desirable “bad boys” (based on the real-life Bra Boys). The characters were introduced in 2011, and last year Steve Peacocke won a Logie for his role of Darryl “Brax” Braxton. Braxton is new to the charts, although short form Brax had been in the Top 100 before. I wonder if it will keep going, or will parents hit the panic button after its massive surge in popularity?

Jaxon

Jaxon was the #1 fastest-rising name in Victoria and Tasmania, made the top 5 fastest-rising names in New South Wales and South Australia, and increased in popularity in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Currently it is #37 in Australia, #54 in NSW, #52 in Victoria, #42 in Queensland, #31 in SA, #17 in WA, #33 in Tasmania and #92 in the ACT. Jaxon is a variant of the surname Jackson; although sometimes derided as a “mis-spelled Jackson”, it is a legitimate surname particularly associated with East Anglia, and possibly with the Puritans. Jaxon has been used as a first name since the 17th century, and originated in Norfolk – then an area with a high Puritan population. Jaxon has charted in Australia since the 1990s, and rose steeply to make the Top 100 in 2011. It continues to capitalise on its trendy X, and may even overtake big brother Jackson. It’s interesting that it is most popular in Western Australia, for there is a large construction company in that booming state named Jaxon.

Mason

Mason was the #1 fastest-rising name in Queensland; it increased in popularity nationally, and in every state and territory. Currently it is #15 in Australia, #24 in NSW, #18 in Victoria, #15 in Queensland, #10 in SA, #12 in WA, #8 in Tasmania, #15 in the NT and #28 in the ACT. Mason first charted in the 1980s, and rose steadily to make the Top 100 by the mid-2000s. Mason is an occupational surname for someone who worked as a stonemason. The Mason family settled in Kent, on lands granted to them by William the Conqueror for their part in the Battle of Hastings. Mason has been used as a first name for boys since at least the 16th century, and originated in East Anglia; it possibly had Puritan significance. It’s much more common in the United States, where the distinguished Mason family played a prominent role in American politics. George Mason IV was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, and an author of the Bill of Rights. Recently it has been often used as a celebrity baby name, boosting and cementing its popularity.

Hunter

Hunter was the #1 fastest-rising name in Western Australia, amongst the top 5 fastest-rising names nationally and in Queensland, and increased in popularity in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. It is currently #24 in Australia, #35 in NSW, #39 in Victoria, #19 in Queensland, #27 in SA, #22 in WA, #7 in Tasmania and #50 in the ACT. Hunter is a surname based on the English word for a man who hunts professionally, and originated in Scotland. The Clan Hunter were from Normandy and settled in Ayrshire in the 11th century; experts in hunting and fieldcraft, they were invited there by King David I, who had been brought up in a Norman court. Hunter has been used as a personal name since the early 18th century, and seems to have been most popular in the northern counties of England. The Hunter Valley is the area around the city of Newcastle; the Hunter River is named after Governor John Hunter, and as his surname suggests, he was a Scotsman. Hunter has charted in Australia since the 1990s, and made the Top 100 by the late 2000s. It shows no signs of losing steam.

Hudson

Hudson was in the top 5 fastest-rising names nationally, in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, and increased in popularity in South Australia and Tasmania. Currently it is #43 in Australia, #74 in NSW, #50 in Victoria, #45 in Queensland, #36 in SA, #31 in WA, and #67 in Tasmania. Hudson is an English surname which means “son of Hudde”. Hudde can be an old nickname for Hugh or Richard, or it can be derived from the common Old English name Huda; the surname is traditionally associated with Yorkshire. Hudson has been used as a first name since the early 17th century; although these births coincide with English explorer Henry Hudson’s first voyages, it can’t be known whether he inspired them. Hudson was new to the charts last year, having gained massive popularity after pop singer Guy Sebastian welcomed his son in 2012. The inspiration for Hudson Sebastian’s name came from the Hudson River in New York, (named after Henry Hudson), as Guy and his wife Jules love New York City. However, it has an Australian connection as well, because Sir Hudson Fysh, a World War I hero, founded Qantas, so Hudson could be used to honour a family tradition in the aviation industry.

Flynn

Flynn was in the top 5 fastest-rising names in Victoria and South Australia, and increased in popularity nationally, in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. It is currently #41 in Australia, #46 in NSW, #36 in Victoria, #34 in Queensland, #43 in SA, #35 in WA, #22 in Tasmania and #28 in the ACT. Flynn has been in the charts since the 1990s, and after hitting a plateau for a few years, it suddenly shot up into the middle of the Top 100 in 2011, after Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom welcomed their son Flynn. Flynn is a common Irish surname which is an Anglicised form of the Old Gaelic Ó Floinn, meaning “son of Flann”. Flann means “red, ruddy” in Irish Gaelic, and is the name of one of the High Kings of Tara. The name is strongly associated with swashbuckling Tasmanian actor Erroll Flynn, known for his success with the ladies. He helped inspire the character of Flynn Rider from the Disney film Tangled. Interestingly, Flynn is most popular in Tasmania.

Archer

Archer was in the top 5 fastest-rising names in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory; it also increased in popularity in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Currently it is #92 in NSW, #47 in Victoria, #61 in Queensland, #47 in SA, #47 in Tasmania and #46 in the ACT. The name was new to the Top 100 this year. Archer is an occupational surname denoting a professional bowman, and was brought to England at the time of the Norman Conquest; the Archer family settled in Wiltshire. Archer has been used as a first name since the 17th century, and seemed to be much more common in the southern counties surrounding London. Archer may remind you of legendary bowmen such as Robin Hood and William Tell, or it could remind you of the zodiac sign Sagittarius, called The Archer. In Australia, the Archer River is on the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland, and the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup was named Archer. Archer’s popularity is growing partly because it’s a great way to get the popular nickname Archie.

Eli

Eli was in the top 5 fastest-rising names in Australia, and increased in popularity in Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Currently it is #34 in Australia, #53 in NSW, #83 in Victoria, #27 in Queensland, #48 in SA, #38 in WA, #32 in Tasmania and #27 in the ACT. Eli has been in the charts since the 1970s, and reached the Top 100 in the late 2000s; since then it has gliding smoothly upward. Eli is a Hebrew name meaning “ascent”, and in the Old Testament, Eli was a high priest who is regarded as a judge and prophet in Judaism, and the teacher of the prophet Samuel. In Scandinavia, Eli is a girl’s name, used as a short form like Ellie, and pronounced EE-lee. Some Australian namesakes include rally driver Eli Evans, Olympian hockey player Eli Matheson, soccer player Eli Babalj, and kickboxer Eli “Mad Dog” Madigan. At a time when Old Testament boys’ names are slumping, Eli stands out as a Biblical success story, and tended to rise when Elijah did too.

Patrick

Patrick was in the top 5 fastest-rising names in South Australia, and increased in popularity nationally, in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory. Currently it is #42 in Australia, #47 in NSW, #34 in Victoria, #53 in Queensland, #35 in SA, #47 in WA, #53 in Tasmania, and #25 in the ACT. In Australia, Patrick is a sturdy classic which has never left the Top 100. It was #36 in the 1900s, and peaked in the 1990s at #34; the lowest it has ever been is #68, in 2009. Patrick is from the Latin name Patricius, meaning “nobleman”, and its fame today is entirely down to one man – Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick was a 5th century Romanised Briton brought up in a Christian family. As a teenager, he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland, where he remained for six years. He managed to escape back to Britain, but returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop to undertake missionary work. Called the Apostle of Ireland, he is the major patron saint of Ireland, and such a vital part of Irish identity that his feast day on March 17 is seen as a celebration of Irish culture.

Harrison

Harrison was in the top 5 fastest-rising names in Queensland, and increased in popularity nationally and in South Australia. Currently it is #22 in Australia, #25 in NSW, #26 in Victoria, #16 in Queensland, #13 in SA, #27 in WA, #34 in Tasmania and #40 in the ACT. Harrison has charted since the 1980s, and skyrocketed into the middle of the Top 100 during the 1990s. It peaked at #23 in the early 2000s, then fell before starting to climb again, so it’s now on its second wind. Harrison is a surname meaning “son of Harry”, with Harry itself being a short form of Henry. Harrison has been used as a first name since the 16th century, and over time became greatly more popular in the United States than in Britain. This may be because of the Harrison family of Virginia, who were related to King Edward I. They managed to produce numerous state governors, as well as two presidents – Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison. The popularity of Harrison as a first name is probably due to actor Harrison Ford – the name began charting just after he starred in the first Star Wars movie, and boomed during the Indiana Jones series.

POLL RESULT: People’s favourite names were Flynn, Archer, and Patrick, and their least favourite were Braxton, Mason, and Jaxon.

(Photo shows the Braxton brothers from Home and Away)

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