What’s in A Georgian Name? I’ve always been fascinated by the naming of characters. I thought it very fun when first reading Jo Beverly’s Malloren series, in which the heroes and heroines (brothers and sisters of one family) had outrageous Anglo-Saxon names of English kings and queens. Beowulf, Elfled, Cynric, Brand, Bryght. So colorful. And so I started some traditions in my characters’ families. I have one family now who names children after Shakespearean characters; another after Italian Renaissance artists. These names make writing fun, give characters distinction.
Lady Elizabeth Stanley, Countess of Derby
Jules Bache Collection, 1949.
But did families from the past really give their children outlandish names? According to sources, most aristocratic families named their children either Germanic or classical names, while working class parents used biblical names. The exceptions were Sarah and Suzannah, which were popular with both classes. I’ve done some research on names, particularly Georgian because many of my Regency heroes and heroines were born at the end of the Georgian era and would likely still have those names as well as those born in the mid-1700s. What I have found is that most often Georgians named their children very ordinary names (by our standards).
The most popular boy’s name was, of course, George, after the monarchs of the age. Followed closely by John, William, Edward, Peter, Frederick, Charles, Henry, Anthony, Daniel, Philip, Robert, Thomas, James, Richard, and Alexander.
Popular girl’s names included Elizabeth, Jane, Alethea, Augusta, Frederica, Georgina or Georgiana, Harriet, Henrietta, Mary, Louisa, Frances (Fanny), Charlotte, Lucy, and Catherine. But of course, there are the more unusual names as well—something to catch the eye: for men there was Octavius, Cuthbert, Marmaduke, Valentine, Theophilus, Horatio, Erasmus, Americus, Busick, Bamber, Coape, Hildebrand, Peregrine, and Soulden. For the ladies you find Albina, Horatia, Lilias, Theodosia, Uriana, Keziah, Euphemia, and Philidelphia (I sort of questioned that last one, but discovered it was quite popular in Sussex County, England!).