Alfie- What’s it all about?

Well, he’s back, the favourite yet again! Yes, Alfie, I mean, the first name chosen most often this year by parents of new baby boys advertising their arrival in the Great Yarmouth Mercury births columns.

Alfie – a diminutive of the popular Alfred many decades ago – is as irrepressible as the character of that name who is back in Walford, involved in Albert Square shenanigans in the BBC Television “soap”, EastEnders – yet it is hard to fathom why it has returned to the top of my list, ousting Charlie which, after seven inclusions in 2009, was chosen only once this year by parents.

In EastEnders Alfie Moon, played by Shane Ritchie, bowed out with Kat in December 2005, returning this September. Alfie headed my first-name popularity poll in 2006 and 2007, only to be top of the pops again this year.

Coincidence, or what?

The cinema films of Alfie starring Michael Caine and Jude Law as the philandering hero were released in 1966 and 2004 respectively, so had no influence over the 2010 Yarmouth area choices.

Danny/Daniel, Lucas and Oscar shared the number two spot.

As usual, James/Jamie was the most picked boy’s name overall, but that was on the strength of being favoured as a middle name, as was John(ny)/Jon(athan) which was runner-up in both categories. This year James/Jamie did manage to make it into the top three of the first-name section.

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Poor Lily, having led the baby girl first-name list in 2009, had to swap places in 2010 with last year’s runner-up, Isabelle/Isabella/Izzabella.

I have wracked my brain but cannot think of any celebrity who might have prompted its new popularity. A film called Predators was in cinemas this year with a principal character called Isabelle, and that is also the name of a theorem prover and something to do with the experimental Haldron Collider in Switzerland...but I think we can discount those as spurring parents to give that name to babies.

Mae/Mai/May and Rose shared both the middle and all-name number one position – but were completely absent as first-names. Parents obviously liked the May alternatives and Rose, but not enough to promote them to first names so their children will be addressed as such through their lives.

It shows how names fall into and out of favour, for, when I began compiling these annual lists in the Nineties, the leader of the girl middle and all-names columns was always Louise by a country mile although never as a first name. In 2010 Louise was included only once, but still as a following name.

It appears that the Mercury circulation area is out of sync with the rest of the nation, judging by the findings of the Office of National Statistics which discovered this year that Mohammed, with various spellings, was the favourite name for boy for the first time.

Of course, the official data is based on all registered births in England and Wales whereas my findings examine only the names published in the Mercury’s paid-for birth announcements.

Mohammed was the most common in the West Midlands and well-used in London, both places with a large residential diversity. Take Mohammed out of the equation, and the Office of National Statistics found that the favourites were Oliver, followed by Jack (losing a 14-year lead), Harry and Alfie, and Olivia (then Ruby, Chloe and Emily).

As usual in this annual column, I include names in the Mercury births column that are either unusual, or have an unexpected spelling, or are a revival of a little-seen name from the past. And it was remarkable that in an October Mercury, all seven birth notices were for girls.

Boys: Anthony, Archie, Caleb Joshua, Callen, Cayen, Edward, Ethan, Fletcher Drew, Frankie, Freddie, Fynlee, Harvey, Hayden, Henry Charles, Isaac Victor, Jenson, Johnny, Josiah, Jude, Kieran, Kilding, Kodee Bryce Chris, Leo, Lex, Lleyton Kenley, Lucas Peter, Marley, Masin Presten Jon, Nathan, Noah, Oakley, Olly, Oscar, Ralph, Reggie, Remy, Rico Ronald, Riley/Ryley, Rio Raymond, Rowan, Roy, Shanley, Shay, Stanley Leeson, Sterling, Wilmer, Zane

Girls: Alexa, Amelia, Anabel Violet, Angel Cherish, Anushka, Ashton, Autumn, Bella, Brianna, Button, Cerys Christine, Charlie, Daisy Mea, Dallas, Darcy Beau, Dorothy, Ebony, Eliza, Elise, Erica Lauren, Esmae, Eugenie, Florence, Francesca Evelyn, Freya, Georgia Lydia Tina, Honey, Honor, Isla, Izzabella, Jada, Jaime, Janet, Jazmin, Jean, Jo, Kaytlynn, Lacy, Laila, Lexi, Libby-Rae Irie, Lily Eileen, Maci, Madyson Kailie, Maidee, Maryna, Miley, Molly, Neve, Patricia, Pauline, Peggy, Poppie, Scarlet, Sienna, Sophia Monica, Starr, Suzanne, Tallulah Roxy Jay, Thaileigh, Verity Vienna

Twins: Lacy May and Lexi Anne, Ethan and Charlie.



First names

1 Alfie (5 listings)

2=Daniel/Danny, Lucas, Oscar (4)

3=Callum, Jack, James/Jamie, Masin/Mason, Maax(well), Oliver/Olly, Samuel, William (3)

4=Alexander, Austin, Dylan, Finley/Fynlee, George, Jude, Lewis/Louis, L(l)eyton, Riley/Ryley, Tyler (2)

Middle names

1 James (13)

2 John/Jon(athon) (11)

3 Joe/Joseph (4)

4=David, Jack, William (3)

All names

1 James/Jamie (16)

2 John/Jon(athon) (12)

3=Jack, William (6)

4=Alfie, Daniel/Danny (5)

5 Joe/Joseph, Max(well) (4)


First names

1 Isabella/Isabelle/Izzabella (7)

2 Grac(i)e/Gracey, Lily (5)

3 Evie, Freya, Isla, Lucy (4)

4=Darci(e)/Darcy, Katie, Phoebe, Poppie/Poppy, Ruby, Sophia/Sophie (3)

Middle names

1=Mae/Mai/May, Rose (11)

2 Eliza(beth) 5

3=Grace/, Maree/Marie, Rae (4)

4=Ann(e), Ja(y)ne, Jean(ne), Lillia/Lily (3)

All names

1=Mae/Mai/May, Rose (11)

2 Grac(i)e/Gracey (9)

3 Lillia/Lily (8)

4 Isabella/Isabelle/Izzabella (7)

5=Eliza(beth), Katie/Kaytlynn, Lucie/Lucy, Sophia/Sophie (5)



First names

1 Charlie (7 listings)

2 Jack (6)

3=Alfie, Callum/Kallum, Joe(y)/Joseph, Josh(ua), Max(x), Oliver (5)

4=Oscar, William/Willem (4)

5=Finley, Harry, Henry, Lewis, Lucas, Thomas (3)

Middle names

1 James (16)

2 Michael (8)

3 Ray (6)

4=David, William (5)

5=George, Paul (4)

6=Andrew, Edward, Jo(h)n, Mark (3)

All names

1 James (17)

2=Charlie/Charles, Jack, Michael, William/Willem (8)

3 Oliver (7)

4=George, Joe(y)/Joseph, Josh(ua), Ray (6)

5=Callum/Kallum, David, Harry, Max(x) (5)

6=Aston, Finley, Lucas, Oscar, Paul, Thomas (4)


First names

1 Lily (5)

2 Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella/Isobel (4)

3=Chloe, Lexi, Mia, Olivia, Summer (3)

4=Connie, Freya, Georgina/Georgiana, Grace, Hannah, Lucy, Maisie, Matilda, Phoebe, Poppy, Rachel, Ruby, Sienna (2)

Middle names

1=May/Mai/Mae, Rose (8)

2=Grace, Louise/Louisa (7)

3 Ja(y)ne (6)

4 Ann(e)/Anna (5)

5=Elizabeth, Jade (4)

6=Lil(l)y,Marie (3)

All names

1=Grace, Rose (9)

2=Lil(l)y, May/Mai/Mae (8)

3 Louise/Louisa (7)

4=Ann(e)/Anna, Ja(y)ne (6)

5 Olivia (5)

6=Elizabeth, Imogen, Isabel/Isabelle/Isabella/Isobel, Jade (4)