Downton Abbey inspires names for newborns in 2012

WHEN I compile my annual list of the names of new-born babies whose happy arrival has been announced in the births column of the Great Yarmouth Mercury, I sometimes comment on the fact that some chosen by parents for their offspring did not exist when I was in their position and trying to decide what to call my own children.

Inevitably we hope we will not upset senior family members by not perpetuating their names for another generation, all the time aware that our decision is life-long for the recipients who are stuck with it...unless, of course, future fame decrees otherwise.

The evolution of names has meant many of those commonplace among my own generation and earlier are seldom, if ever, bestowed on 21st century arrivals.

You know the ones I mean: Albert, Brian, Kenneth, Malcolm, Neville, Percy, Stanley and Walter, for example, and Ada, Edith, Margaret, Pauline, Rita, Shirley (I knew nine girls of that name in my youth), Stella and Winifred... None of those showed up in my 2012 lists although there was a liberal sprinkling of popular names from yesteryear making a welcome reappearance – plus, inevitably, a clutch of “in” names derived from current celebrity culture.

I was surprised to read last month that nationwide some babies had been named after characters from the hugely-popular television drama series Downton Abbey, set in roughly the 1890s to 1920s. The names of characters both above stairs and below will live on in this way, according to an organisation called BabyCentre which noted the top 100 names from 8400 of its members who gave birth in 2012.

Violet, Isobel/Isabelle, Daisy, Matthew, Thomas and Tom are in the BabyCentre list with the observation that Cora, Edith and Mary have grown in popularity. No Carson, I notice, but that was the butler’s surname, of course.

So, while television personalities and recording artistes were influencing some new mums and dads in the name game, Sir Julian Fellowes was indirectly doing the same when he devised and wrote Downton Abbey which I assume has an expected target audience of over-30s if not older.

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The Mercury’s 2012 entries do include a Daisy; Thomas is an annual regular, as are Isobel and its derivitaves.

By the way, the BabyCentre also made us aware that Christian and An(n)a, the protagonists in the steamy best-selling 2012 novel Fifty Shades of Grey, had jumped in its name rankings. But hereabouts, no new parents appear to have been swayed by Fifty Shades of Grey, even if they had read it...unless, of course, they deemed it discreet not to give their little secret away with an entry in the Mercury births column.

Our 2012 boys list was a lacklustre affair, to be honest, with Harry picked as a first name four times to top the poll. However, because a mix of Joseph, Joe and Joey shared the lead, Harry must take the honours. Neither Harry nor the Joseph permutations were among the 18 names that accounted for the first three places in 2011.

James, with 14 entries, was the favourite second name and was also way ahead in the all-name category but was not chosen even once as a first name, meaning that no 2012 baby will ever respond to a playground or parental shout of “James!”

Girls? Well, they sprang a surprise, with Mollie/Molly hitting number one for the first time ever, so far as I can recall, jumping from obscurity to become the most popular first name after being unmentioned in any category in 2011. It had one mention as a first name in 2010.

And although readers (and the families of the six baby Mollie/Mollys) might explain that the recently-arrived daughters were named after a film actress, recording star, television personality or Olympic or Paralympic sportswoman, I must confess that nobody of that name fresh in the public eye last year springs to my mind.

Little Richard topped the pop charts with his Good Golly Miss Molly in the Fifties, and there was Molly Malone and Molly Sugden but I doubt that they were influential in 2012.

Middle names were led by Rose (14) and Mae/Mai(a)/May (8), reversing their placings the previous year.

Despite the fact that 2012 was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a milestone celebrated throughout the land and therefore publicised persistently, not a single Elizabeth made it into the first-name roster, although it was used five times as a following name. That other royal name, Kate/Katie, albeit newer, was never picked as a first name, only as a second one.

As usual, I must emphasise that my listings are not intended to be an accurate representation of births as a whole throughout the Great Yarmouth Mercury circulation area. They are culled from paid-for announcements in our columns, and I always assume that these families are traditional Mercury buyers, long established or long resident hereabouts.

As examples of once-traditional names bestowed on babies in 2012, and of names I shall politely call “du-different” in Norfolk vernacular, I offer the following selection from my 2012 compilation.

BOYS: Archie, Arthur, Ashton Foden Steve, Benjamin, Bodey Peter, Bradley, Buddy, Charlie, Drew, George, Harlee, Harvey, Henry Howes Frederick, Hugo Lee, Jake, Jesse, Joshua Johnboy (“named after a very special Grandad”), Jude, Liam Martin, Norman, Logan, Louie, Luca Brennan, Marcus, Mason, Miles, Nathaniel Tay, Noah Alexander, Oscar, Philip, Preston, Rafferty Ray, Rocco, Ronnie, Rowan Joseph Jareth, Sam Tony, Theo, TJ James, Toby, Travis and Warren.

GIRLS: Alaana, Amelia Lilly Brianne, Amelie, Bebe, Daisy, Valerie, Eleni Sheila, Eloise Rae, Faye, Flora, Georgia, Geri, Hettie, Isla, Lexi-Mia Heather, Jacqueline, Kayla Ann, Laney, Lauren Emma, Libby, Lola, Lyara, Lydia, Lyvinia, Maci, Madison Eden, Mia Cassidy, Millie Ruby, Mollie Sophia, Myla, Olivia, Lilah Louise, Paige, Penelope-Mae Elizabeth Rachel, Phebe Star, Poppy, Rhianna Georgina, Savannah Venice, Scarlett, Shania, Sienna, Valerie and Willow Harper.

Two sets of twins were announced in the Mercury: Hallie and Lilia; and George William and Jessica Elizabeth.



First names

1=Harry, Joseph/Joe(y) (4 mentions)

2=Jack, Thomas (3)

3=Archie, Benjamin, Connor, Henry, Jude, Oscar, Theo (2)

Middle names

1 James (14)

2 William (4)

3=David, John/Johnboy (3)

4=Christopher, Frederick, Lewis, Luca, Ray, Robert, Stephen/Steve (2)

All names

1 James (14)

2=Joseph/Joe(y) (5)

3=Harry, Thomas (4)

4=David, John/Johnboy (3)


First names

1 Mollie/Molly (6)

2=Darci,/Darcie/Darcy, Evelyn, Lily/Lilia (3)

3=Amelia/Amelie, Holly, Mad(d)ison, M(a)ia, Millie, Scarlett (2)

Middle names

1 Rose(14)

2 Mae/Mai(a)/May (8)

3 Elizabeth, Grace (5)

4 Jane, Marie (3)

All names

1 Rose (14)

2 Mae/Mai(a)/May (10)

3 Mollie/Molly (6)

4=Elizabeth, Grace (5)

5=Amelia/Amelie, Lilia/Lil(l)y (4)



First names

1=Charlie, Jacob, Oliver/Olly, Riley/Rylee (4 listings)

2=Alfie, Finley, Joshua (3)

3=Ellis, Frankie, Jamie, Louie, Luca(s), Noah, Stanley, Toby (2)

Middle names

1 John/Jonathan (8)

2 James (7)

3 Michael (6)

4=David, Jack, Mark, William (3)

All names

1 James/Jamie (9)

2 John/Jonathan (8)

3 Michael (6)

4=Charles/Charlie, Oliver/Olly (5)

5=Jack/Jacob, Riley/Rylee, William (4)


First names

1 Eva/Evie (5)

2 Ellie (4)

3=Amelia, Daisy, Grac(i)e (3)

4=Ava, Lexi, Lilia/Lilly, Lola, Rubie/Ruby, Sofia/Sophie (2)

Middle names

1 Mae/Mai/May (14)

2 Rose (10)

3=Grac(i)e, Louise (6)

All names

1 Mae/Mai/May(a) 15

2 Rose (10)

3 Grac(i)e (9)

4 Eva/Ev(i)e (6)