The popular names chosen for 2011 newborns

WE’VE all got them, and we love them or hate them. Celebrities and some writers adopt new ones, the first to suit their image and personality, the second to conceal their true identity...but their mothers will never use them.

I refer to names, of course, and could be accused of writing with forked tongue, as it were, having hidden behind the nom-de-plume of Peggotty for more than seven decades. In the case of Peggotty, it cloaks the fact that different Great Yarmouth journalists have penned this column since it was launched before the war, and also provides seamless continuity.

Having just said that “we’ve all got them”, there are occasional rare exceptions. There is one in my 2011 listing of names in the Mercury’s births column: according to the notice his parents put into this newspaper, he is simply AJ. Also listed was JJ as a second name – Ellis JJ.

It was a hackneyed phrase in newspapers that “names make news,” probably working on the circulation-boosting principle that if someone’s name was published, relatives and friends might buy a copy...and become a regular reader. And it is hard to believe now that until perhaps the Seventies, most provincial newspapers - including the Mercury – spurned first names and had a policy of using Mr, Mrs or Miss before initials and surnames, other than in reports of court cases.

Seldom, if ever, was a Mercury reporter or columnist named in a byline above his or her work. Occasionally a report would be labelled pointlessly with “By a Mercury reporter” (who else had penned it?) and columnists by a nom-de-plume: Scout, Flapjack, Yaresider...

Names make news in the literal sense, for they are still the subject of articles. For example, this year a poll of teachers reported by the national press found they dreaded learning their classes would include pupils named Aaron, Callum, Connor, Brandon, Adam, Abbie, Courtney, Aimee, Chloe and Abigail, deeming them trouble-makers before they had even encountered them.

The Pope warned parents against giving children celebrity-inspired names and urged them to turn to the Bible for inspiration instead. A third report claimed that “Old-fashioned names such as Ava and Stanley and Biblical names such as Joshua and Daniel are returning to popularity.”

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Before I detail my 2011 findings, I must point out the names come solely from Mercury paid-for birth notices and are not derived from the official comprehensive statistics of every baby registered hereabouts. Official national records usually find the most popular name in Britain continues to be Mohammed.

For the first time in the many years I have compiled these lists, the top boys’ first name proved inconclusive in 2011, being shared four ways by Charlie, Jacob, Oliver/Olly and Riley/Rylee, with last year’s winner – Alfie – one of the runners-up, along with Finley and Joshua. So it is impossible to take a guess as to what factor influenced parents to adopt this or that name.

Middle names? John/Jonathan swapped top spot with James, the annual leader for as long as I can remember. Mixing every name, whether used first or following, resulted in James/Jamie being number one, again followed by John/Jonathan. But bear in mind it is the first name by which these babies will be referred to throughout their lives, not the following ones. Despite parents’ fondness for John/Jonathan and James/Jamie, their only entries as a first name were Jamie, twice.

There was a change at the top in the girls’ first-name section, Eva/Evie (joint third 2010) capturing the number one position from Isabella/Isabelle/Izzabella, with Ellie second and three tying for third – Amelia, Daisy and Grac(i)e. Mae/Mai/May was again the most favoured middle name, with Rose and Grac(i)e second and third. The placings were identical when all names were tallied up, again following the last year’s findings.

I have already mentioned AJ as being out of sync with names as most people regard them; another differing from the norm was Zinc for a baby girl. And son Torres merits inclusion – a first name, not a surname.

Names that to me in 2011 were unusual, old favourites from the past, or with a different spelling from the customary included: (boys) A J, Aiden, Cobie, Cohen, Dexter Byron, Donnie, Dylan, Ellis JJ, Evan, Fabian, Gabriel Anthony, George Raymond, Harlen, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Kaden, Kobi, Lennon, Levi Cody Reiss, Logan, Louie, Luca, Luigi, Mason, Miles, Noah Benjamin, Oakley, Oscar Lawrence, Roni, Rowan, Rylee, Stanley Zane, Toby, Torres, Warren, William, Xavier Steven Ray,

And girls: Amalie, Amy, Antonia Pamela Marie, Anya Violet, Ava, Betsy Iona Ann, Bijou, Cerys, Codie, Dulcie, Ellenor, Emelia, Esther, Florence, Honey, Honor Scarlet, Imogen, Isabella, Ivy, Joyce, Laney, Lexi Jennifer, Lilia, Lois, Lola Lorraine, Maisie, Maya Charlotte, Miranda, Morgan Amelia, Nala-Rose, Olivia, Penny Debra, Phoebe, Polly, Sahara-Star, Sharde, Skye, Sofia, Sylvie Zinc, Tamsin, Tilly, Zara, Zinc.

The only twins were called Charlie Oliver and Olivia Mai.



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)



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)