Many of you won’t know that I started my book writing career as a baby nameologist. That’s right, my first book, “A is for Adam: Biblical Baby Names,” came out in April of 2000, and after a basket-full of mom/marriage humor books, “A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books” was released in 2008 (and featured in People magazine).
So it’s extremely fun to wed my love for Downton with my passion for baby names. Here, in an off week with no recap to share, a Downton-themed Top Ten list! (By the way, I am only including names here that are “of note,” as in, they aren’t super popular or common. I know Mary is common AND popular, but not so much in the last 30 years. You can argue with me in the comments, and possibly win tea!)
Top 10 Downton Abbey Baby Names (in no order)
Edith I predict a Downton Bump for Edith, a name which peaked about a 100 years ago. This usually means it’s ripe for a comeback, and our Lady Edith Crawley has certainly brought it to the forefront of our minds. From “A is for Atticus: “A cameo brooch name….borne handsomely by American novelist Edith Wharton.” Thanks to Lady E, I no longer think of my friend’s 75-year-old mother, or Edith Bunker, for that matter. I think aqua and gold beaded gowns and jaunty hats. Maybe Bertie will call his lady Edie behind closed doors, because we know no one else will.
Mary This former #1 heavyweight female name champion of all time isn’t all that well used anymore by modern baby namers. I had a beloved Aunt Mary, and so do many of you, I’m sure. Or a mama, or a grandma. Mary is only ranked at 121 in popularity; therefore it would sound fresh and new at this point, a warm and classic heirloom name for a new generation.
Septimus: As those of you who follow my Downton recaps know, I am a rather big fan of Mr. Septimus Spratt, he of the strange and alluringly bull-frogish voice and mysterious moonlighting career as an agony uncle (or aunt, as it were). Off the top of my head, I know it’s an ancient Roman name, but that’s about it. My usual sources came up empty for more insight, except of course for the genius women behind Nameberry, Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz. A tidbit from their Septimus profile: “Septimus was popularized by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus, a patron of arts and letters.” Aha! Septimus SEVERUS? I knew Spratt’s voice reminded me a little bit Snape’s voice. And now we have this confirmation from the universe. Anyway, it also means “seven” in Latin so if you are having your 7th child, bravo to you! Also, Septimus is an option for you.
Daisy: I know our kitchen maid pally Daisy was a bit annoying this year, but we can’t pin that on the name, can we? “Bright, sunshiny Daisy” (from “A is for Atticus”) evokes friendliness, joy and energy. It’s not overused and boasts plenty of literary merit. Now if we can just get that girl’s pout out of our heads…
Cora: When I was a little girl, I lived next to a girl named Coralee. Coralee and Lorilee! Then she and her baby bunnies moved, and were replaced by two two grumpy single ladies named Agnes and Brunehilda. I wish I were making that up. I digress. Cora is a smashing name, crisp, elegant, and gracious. Lady Cora infuses her name with all the more grace and cordial manner. I like it so much that we named our kitten Cora. But that’s only because I have no more children to name; I have to take it out on my pets.
Atticus: I sometimes tell my boys they were born just a few years too late to be named “Atticus.” I think it’s fantastic, and much more user friendly than Septimus. Noble, stalwart and handsome, Atticus isn’t just for hyper literary/creative types anymore: According to babynamewizard.com, Atticus was ranked 404 in 2013, and has surely only gone up since. (Who is Atticus, you wonder? Atticus Aldridge, the guy who ran off to America with Cousin Rose!
Violet: This name has shot up in popularity (#67 in 2014, the last year for which there’s a list), but I still adore it. From “A is for Atticus”: Violet is the ultimate Victorian revival, a modern girl with an old fashioned soul.” A peach!
Sybil: According to babynamewizard.com, Sybil peaked in the 1910’s, ranking 323rd then and off the top 1,000 since. A rarety, to be sure, which means you intrepid baby namers out there have a fair shot at singularity. And don’t worry if people think you named your baby (or cat, because this would make a spectacular cat name) after fair Lady Sybil. Who wouldn’t want to be named after Downton’s prettiest, kindest and most worthy of ladies? Nickname: Sybil
(The actress’s real name is Fifi!)
George: Thanks to Master George Crawley, in his adorable little tweedy suits, not to mention Prince George, what was thought of as a Grandpa name now sounds youthful and dashing. I love what happens when an “old person’s name” gets flipped on its head and takes on new life with a baby and child. George is the perfect, cuddly example.
(The character’s part is played by twins Zac and Oliver!)
Marigold: During my music reporter days, I interviewed Def Leppard Irish guitarist Vivian Campbell a couple of times, and he told me his daughter’s name is Una Marigold, at which point I swooned. I am not going to lie: Marigold as a name thrills my socks off. As you faithful blog readers know, I was not exactly best pleased with the RECKLESS story of Marigold being given up twice and being taken back twice by Edith. But at least Edith had the superior taste to name her child Marigold, a name which evokes sunlit meadows and butterflies and yellow and honey and…I could go on.
(The new Marigold’s part is played by twins Eva and Karrina)
Let us not forget, fans of LMM, about her book “Magic for Marigold.”
Did you read it? I did!
SO! Let’s get down to business then and talk Downton and baby names.
Your comments below still qualify you for a chance to win Downton Tea at the end of the series, as in next week.
What do you think? Did I miss something? Which names do you love or dislike?