choosing baby names, fictional namesakes, honouring, name combinations, name trends, nicknames, popular names, sibsets, UK name popularity
Samantha is originally from the UK, and is married to an Australian named James. Sammie and James are expecting their second child next month, a brother or sister for their son Alfie. They picked a name for their son which is popular in in the UK but not used as much in Australia, which has worked out well (once James’ family recovered).
Sammie would love another older-style name which sounds familiar to British ears, but isn’t too common in Australia. Sammie loves the names Ted and Reggie – however, they have friends with these names, and don’t fancy seeing them on their son as well. At one point they settled on Jude, but when they shared this with Alfie, he kept saying Judy, which put them off.
James is really keen on Clarence, with the nickname Clarry or Clary, but Sammie doesn’t like it at all. This has become something of a sore point, and James is now being very critical of any name Sammie comes up with. As a result, Clarence is still on their baby name list in order not to antagonise James.
Sammie quite likes the name Digby, but James doesn’t think you can have two sons with their names ending in an EE sound.
The middle name for a boy will be either Leonard or George, which are both family names. Sammie liked the idea of combining them as Lenny George, but James says Lenny is a “nerdy” name in Australia.
Girls names will be much easier. They had picked out the name Elsie if their first child was a girl, but now Alfie and Elsie seem a bit much together. Their favourite is Daisy, then Florence and Maisy. Sammie likes Nellie, Betsy and Nora, while James prefers Georgie and Rosie. The middle name will either be Sylvia or Norma, which are both family names.
(Sammie feels that this baby is a boy and hasn’t been too bothered about girls names, but she thought Alfie was a girl, so wasn’t well prepared with boys names last time).
Sammie and James have a surname which ends in -son, like Richardson, so they don’t want a name ending in N, such as Nathan or Hayden.
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Sammie I feel for you, because you have a natural desire to find a boys name similar to Alfie, and it doesn’t seem difficult to do – except all sorts of blocks keep being placed in your path.
The first thing to get out of the way is that the popular names in Australia and the UK aren’t that different, so looking for a name like Alfie, which is very popular in the UK yet not used that much in Australia, gives you a fairly short list of choices.
Other boys’ names which fit this pattern are Freddie, Finley/Finlay, Theo, Arthur, Harley, Reuben, Kian, Stanley, Jenson, Frankie, Teddy, Louie, Bobby, Elliott/Elliot, Dexter, Ollie, Frederick, Albert, Leon, Ronnie, Rory, Jamie, Ellis, Sonny, and Joey.
James doesn’t like the idea of another name ending in EE, so that eliminates Freddie, Finley/Finlay, Harley, Stanley, Frankie, Teddy, Louie, Bobby, Ollie, Ronnie, Rory, Jamie, Sonny, and Joey.
Some of these names seem like such perfect matches with Alfie that I wonder if James could rethink his policy? Alfie and Freddie, Alfie and Sonny, Alfie and Rory, and Alfie and Stanley seem utterly adorable, and quite manly or laddish as well, rather than cutesy.
Both of you don’t want a name ending in N, which would eliminate Reuben, Kian, Jenson, and Leon.
That leaves you with a choice of Theo, Arthur, Elliott/Elliot, Dexter, Frederick, Albert, and Ellis. Albert and Arthur could leave you with Alby or Artie as nicknames, which seem uncomfortably close to Alfie, while Elliot and Ellis have such a similar sound to Alfie that they might even be confused with it (a bit like the Elsie issue).
You’re now down to Theo, Dexter, and Frederick, all of which seem like perfectly reasonable choices. Theo seems like a good choice for someone who liked Ted, but wasn’t able to use it, and Dexter a fair alternative for someone who liked Digby but had had it vetoed.
I’m pretty sure Frederick would be shortened to Fred or Freddie/Freddy, which I think is a lovely match with Alfie. Then again, both Alfie and Freddie are nicknames for Alfred, so you might feel as if you’d given your sons the same name! If so, you now have a choice of just two names that fit your hoped-for pattern.
The other trouble is that your dear old other half is being a bit difficult. I’m wondering if he was as keen on Alfie’s name as you were when you chose it, especially as you said his family had some trouble adjusting to it. As you didn’t discuss boys names too much last time, thinking Alfie was a girl, was it a rushed decision? Did James feel that his views didn’t get enough of an airing?
I just wonder if some lingering resentment is what’s making him rather unreasonable this time around – and let’s face it, he is being unreasonable. Vetoing all boys names ending with an EE sound is extremely restrictive, and doesn’t make any sense considering that you’ve already agreed upon Daisy and Maisy for girls. I just can’t see any logic to this at all, and Digby would be an awesome match with Alfie (although it might make having a Daisy later seem less easy).
He’s also wrong that Lenny is a nerdy name in Australia – it’s not far outside the Top 100, and is a fashionable name. I know a lot of Australians who consider it an unsophisticated choice though, probably because it’s strongly connected with sport. Some prefer it as a nickname for Lennox or something similar.
On the other hand, his championing of Clarence is slightly odd, as this really does seem quite nerdy, in that it’s a vintage name which hasn’t had a comeback as yet (James is ahead of the curve). I think Clarry is rather cute, and doesn’t seem too strange a match with Alfie, but the fact is that you just don’t like it. I think it might be a bit too vintage Australian for you rather than vintage British, and as a Brit, I wonder if Clary reminds you too much of comedian Julian Clary?
Maybe this is James’ point – that Alfie was a very British-style choice, and he is pushing for a more Australian-style choice this time. If so, this isn’t an unreasonable request; he might just be expressing it in an unreasonable way.
I think the two of you need to have a talk about what you both really want. Last year we had an Australian-born woman married to an American write in to the blog who wanted a name which worked in both Australia and the US. Their first son was named Felix, a name more popular in Australia than the US, but still fashionable and rising there. They ended up naming their second son Sage, which is better known in the US than here, so they got a nice mix-and-match.
Perhaps James would also prefer a situation like that, where Alfie’s brother has more of an Australian vibe to his name. James’ love of Clarence/Clarry makes me wonder how he feels about Clancy, which has a wonderful literary history in Australia, as he is a character from a poem by Banjo Paterson. The name is not unusual here, although not common either.
Even though James says he doesn’t want a name ending in EE, he has suggested the name Clarry as a nickname for Clarence. Not only could Clancy work as a nickname for Clarence, but this suggests that James might be one of those people who prefer having a long form of a name on the birth certificate, and a nickname for everyday use.
This means that you might be able to have a cute boyish name after all – just with a longer name attached for formal use. Again, I think this is something you need to have a chat about.
I also can’t see anything wrong with Jude, and wonder if you were put off too easily by Alfie’s attempts to pronounce it. Is it really that big a deal if Alfie calls him Judy for a short while, or are you worried that it’s an unwanted nickname that will stick? Jude is a name popular and rising in both the UK and Australia, so another name like that might be a choice that works well for you.
Names I would suggest you consider, or re-consider:
Clancy possibly nn for Clarence
Frederick nn Freddie, Freddy or Fred
Theodore nn Theo
Lennox nn Lenny
Tobias nn Toby
As for girls, I think you are pretty well set. Daisy, Florence, and Maisy are all great choices that sound wonderful as a sister for Alfie. I especially like the combination Daisy Sylvia. It would be very useful if you were wrong again, and in line to have a baby girl!
UPDATE: The baby was a boy, and his name is Ted!
POLL RESULTS: The public’s choice for the baby’s name was Clancy for a boy (18%), closely followed by Jude (16%), and Daisy for a girl (44%).
I was going to suggest Lawrence as an alternative to Clarence too! We were considering Clarence as a nickname for our Arthur and ended up preferring Arthur Lawrence. Although I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname Lawrie…
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Bram, Breck, Burke, Chester – Chet, Clyde, Doug(las), Fitzroy – Fitz, Roy, Giles, Ivo, Keefe, Kemp, Linus, Levi, Loch, Mack, Roscoe, Roarke, Trent, Wolf.
I almost feel like I could’ve written this!! I have an Alfie and am currently pregnant with my second. I’m not English, but have lived in the UK where I first came across the name Alfie.
I’m also finding girls names pretty fine, but really struggling on boys! At the moment I like Reggie and Rex, but my husband doesn’t at all and I’m not totally sold on them either.
I personally love Lenny! Some other suggestions are: Louie, Spencer, Jimmy, Ned, Sid, Vince, George, Henry, Oscar, Max, Billy, Charlie.
Sorry some of my suggestions may have been already said and are not necessarily ‘British’. Other ideas are Miles, Leo,Hugh. I find it difficult finding boys names that are vintage style, but not too popular or too out there!
I think both Daisy and Maisy are great choices for a girl!
Kathleen Jones said:
Clarence is a great name but if you don’t like the nicknames, your husband needs to understand. I wonder if you both would like the name Lawrence/Laurence instead? It also seems like you both like the name George so why not use that? Best of luck to you both.
Cee Cee said:
Digby also “shortens” to the very Australian Digger, which was a common boys nickname in the interwar period. Digby and Lewis are our current top picks for boys names, if we are lucky enough for one more.