Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Expansion to Regency Names.
I had occasion to look on my blog at a post I made on Regency names and discovered half the post appears to have disappeared! so this is an addition to Regency names [top 50] which should have been posted with it! See that post for the most common names; this was an era in which some vicars were christening babies by the diminutives hitherto known by a name that may have been different to the name on their birth certificates; but still children were often christened by the name used 'for best' and given a diminutive for everyday use. These are then names often, although not exclusively, encountered as servants.
Diminutives used for everyday which may have also been given at birth:
Elizabeth: Eliza, Lizzy, Liza, Beth, Betty, Betsy
Mary: Molly, Polly, Minney
Margaret Maggie, Meg, Peggy
Catherine/Katharine: Kitty, Kate
Ann: Nancy, Annie, Nan, Nanny
However there were too some weird and wonderful names about in the period, some taken from classical sources and some from literary derivations; and some that I have been wholly unable to track. My favourite is Gedeliah Gatfield whose name appears in the records of the Old Bailey. There is however another Gedeliah in these records….. a Biblical name that seems obscure to the modern eye.
There were certainly a lot of Biblical names out there, my own family tree of the era contains several Noah’s, two Obadiah’s and an Elijah. And on the distaff side an Hepzibah. It should be noted that my family tree in this direction was also militantly Methodist. Most Biblical names would be suitable.
Social rank and names: whilst all strata of society would be inclined to follow the ‘norm’ ie the top 50 names those of lower classes are more likely to be naming their children with diminutives from the word go, not being aware of their source; the more educated classes would be likely to give a name and then use its diminutive.
Since the only literary sources known to the lower classes, most of whom were still illiterate, were Biblical, other Biblical names were more likely to be found amongst those classes whereas the literati and those wishing to be considered literati would be more likely to choose classical sources should they deviate from the more common names. The upper classes were more likely to use names traditional to their family regardless of fashion [such as the Gascoigne family who have a Bamber in every generation]
The habit followed by the Darcy family in Pride and Prejudice of calling the oldest son by his mother’s maiden name was not uncommon leading to some odd names, some of which have become subsequently established as first names.
The Scots tradition is to include the surname as a part of the name as follows.
First son; named for paternal grandfather and therefore has only one forename.
First daughter named for maternal grandmother including that worthy’s surname; two forenames
Second son; named for maternal grandfather and so including his surname; two forenames
Second daughter; named for paternal grandmother, her maiden name, two forenames
Third son, for his father, one forename
Third daughter for her mother, her maiden name, two forenames.
A few odd names I have discovered not likely to be commonly used
Telemachus Chilton Euphen
Mazarine Champion Phillipine
Namon Earle Costelina
Abbara Brook Euphelia
Tysoe Carew Philadelphia
Fulwar Nowes or Noyes Melesina [from Melusine ?]
Note; probably some of the odd male names are indeed from surname bases.
Other classically inspired names that were occasionally used
Hector Lucius Alethea Penelope Sybil
Ulysses Emilius Helen[a] Cassandra Julia
Meleager Maximilian Chloe Phyllida Dyonisia
Augustus Peregrine Elvira Phyllis Diana
Julius Septimus Aurelia Letitia
Phineas Octavius Philomena Camilla
Hadrian Virgil Araminta Urania
Theophilus Tryphena Augusta
It should also be realised that more people were literate by this period and names might well be garnered from books or serialised stories. Again such fanciful names were more likely to be used for girls than boys; I have never heard of any male christened Marmion or Lochinvar. Note that Ellen was however popular, the heroine from ‘Young Lochinvar’.
One of the names cited above, Euphelia, was the title of a poem by Helen Maria Williams [writing mid 18th century] – whose sister’s names were Cecilia and Persis themselves classically inspired. Other poems by the same author involve such characters as Eltrada and Edwin, Aciloe, Alzira, Cora, and Zilia.
Cora comes from the Greek meaning ‘Maiden’; Euphelia would seem to be a combination of Euphemia and Eulalia, Zilia likewise a combination of Zinnia and Zillah, the nearest I could get to Aciloe is Alcithoe, a Greek character who was turned into a bat; and as for Alzila, well I can’t begin to guess. It is however indicative of an age of fanciful names for those females whose parents consider themselves literary.
Other literary names included Walter Scott’s Rosabelle  and Rowena; one might also find Ida  Corinna , and Margiana . These however are less likely to be found given to any but children born in the period.
Clarentine  is more likely or Evelina  by Fanny Burney who also wrote Cecilia.
More ‘exciting’ versions of female names tended to be used as well; often by adding an ‘a’ such as Alicia, Eloisa, Isabella, Leonora [variant on Elinor], Lucilla, Margaretta, Susanna[h],
Dorothea and Theadora are both the same name just rearranged, and variants on Dorothy. Where Dorothy replaced Theodora in the Renaissance as more modern and exciting, Theodora was a more exciting variant of an old name by the Regency....what goes around, comes around.
Fanciful versions of male names like Georgiana and Juliana had long held sway. Philippa was more in use than the earlier quoted Phillipina. Christiana belongs in with this group; Henrietta and Harriet and variants Harriot/Harriette also belong here. Wilhelmina
Additional Male names: Alfred, Archibald, Arthur, Caleb, Clement, Ernest, Errol, Frederick, Guy, Herbert, Horatio /Horace, Jeremiah, Joshua, Leonard, Lewis, Mark, Percy Toby, Valentine, Warren,
Additional female names: Amelia, Annabella, Arabella, Beatrice, Bertha, Blanche, Cornelia, Deirdre, Dora [possibly a pet name of Dorothy], Edith, Emily, Euphemia [dim. Effie], Flora, Florentina, Gertude, Henrietta, Janet [Scots], Jean, Jessica, Louisa, Lovelace, Marianne, Matilda, Nina, Patience, Patty [sometimes a dim, of Martha or Matilda], Rosalie, Stella,
Also the use of double-barrelled names like Henrietta-Maria, Jane-Mary, Jemima-Anne, Sarah-Ann
The obvious literary source was Shakespeare; and whilst names used by Shakespeare might well be given without blaming the bard for it, here are a few female names that might have been picked for literary reasons: I have not listed those listed elsewhere like Beatrice or Cassandra
Adriana, Audrey, Bianca, Cressida, Cordelia, Celia, Charmian, Desdemona, Emilia, Francisca, Helena, Hermia, Hermione, Imogen, Iris, Jaquenetta, Lucetta, Luciana, Lavinia, Marina, Mariana, Miranda, Nerissa, Olivia, Ophelia, Perdita, Paulina, Philomela, Rosalind, Rosaline, Silvia, Titania, Tamora, Ursula, Viola, Violenta, Virgilia.