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Popular Victorian Names

Victorian Girls Names
Victorian Girls Names © AboutBritain.com

Fashions change in Christian names as much as in any other area of life.

Many popular Victorian names now sound terribly old-fashioned and are rarely used today.

Other names seem to weather fashion trends admirably and can be found in modern generations as well as in Victorian times.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson © Morphart - stock.adobe.com

Names were associated with social class in Victorian times.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale © Gordon Johnson via Pixabay

Ladies from the upper class would have names such as Ada, Beatrice and Dorothy and upper-class gentlemen were popularly called Frederick, Samuel and Cyril.

George Frederick Samuel Robinson (1827- 1909), British politician
George Frederick Samuel Robinson (1827- 1909), British politician © acrogame - stock.adobe.com

Gradually these names would be copied by middle and lower classes so the names trickled down over time and new names became popular for the aristocracy.

Joseph Lister (1827 - 1912)
Joseph Lister (1827 - 1912) © Archivist - stock.adobe.com

The 10 most popular Victorian boys names were:

  • John
  • William
  • James
  • George
  • Charles
  • Joseph
  • Frank
  • Robert
  • Edward
  • Henry

Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin © wikiImages via Pixabay

The 10 most popular Victorian girls names were:

  • Mary
  • Anna
  • Margaret
  • Helen
  • Elizabeth
  • Ruth
  • Florence
  • Ethel
  • Emma
  • Marie

There were many things that influenced the choice of Victorian names.

Royalty was a huge influence with many children been named after Queen Victoria and Albert and their nine children who were called Victoria, Edward, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and Beatrice.

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria © Birmingham Museums Trust via Unsplash

George, William and Victoria are particular royal examples.

Biblical names were most prevalent for naming children in Victorian times and included Samuel, Jacob, James, Joseph, John, Peter and Thomas for boys and Ruth, Sara, Mary (Marie), and Hannah for girls.

Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison © wikiImages via Pixabay

Biblical names remain popular even today. To a lesser extent names were copied from heroes of mythology and ancient literature, such as Achilles and Hector.

The Victorians were also big on choosing virtuous names for their offspring. Charity, Prudence, Hope, Mercy and Chastity were all virtuous names that were foisted onto unsuspecting offspring for them to live up to.

Easier to live with were girls names taken from flowers. Iris, Rose, Lily or Lillian, Daisy, Myrtle and Violet were all popular Victorian names.

Victorian Boys Names
Victorian Boys Names © AboutBritain.com

Nicknames were common in Victorian times such as Hattie (for Harriet), Bessie (for Elizabeth), Peggy (for Margaret), Dick (for Richard), Frank (for Francis) and Lottie (for Charlotte).

Some names were created by running two Christian names together.

Mary Grace, Sarah Ann, Marie Louise, Henry James and Frank William are typical examples that occurred many times in census records, marriage and other public records.

A stroll around any churchyard will give a good cross-section of these names on gravestones dating back to the 19th century and early 20th century.

Families often recycled surnames as Christian names and the mother’s maiden name would often be inserted as a child’s middle name.

Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria © steve bidmead via Pixabay

This applied to both boys and girls. John Butterfield Smith, Charles Stewart Parnell and Louisa Jefferson Jones are just three well-known examples.

Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell © Emilio Ereza - stock.adobe.com

Family names were often handed down through the generations with names such as Christopher Columbus Jones confusingly belonging to any number of generations of the same family.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens © Gordon Johnson via Pixabay

Some Victorian names have now all but died out.

Gertie, Agnes, Constance, Cynthia, Edna, Fanny and Maude are rarely heard of in modern-day children whereas the names Polly, Amelia, Ellie, Lucy and Molly happily live on.

Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle © Gordon Johnson via Pixabay

Louis, Meriweather, Gus, Frederick and Raymond are rare in modern-day infant boys but Jack, Jake, William, Tom and Harold (Harry) are as popular as ever.

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