Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Victorian Smiths in the 1870s

Post 5. To find out what this is all about, go here. Data.

Top 10:

1 Mary
2 Ann
3 Elizabeth
4 Sarah
5 Alice
6 Annie
7 Emily
8 Ellen
9 Emma
10 Jane

Ann has pushed past both Elizabeth and Sarah to be #2, Annie has gone up to #6. Emma has fallen down to #9.

There are quite a few names that peaked in this period, so I apologize about the length of this post, and apologize if some of the less popular names do not get the amount of exposure that they truly deserve. So the 'peaking' names are Emily, Louisa, Charlotte, Catherine and Isabella. Phew!

Start with Emily, as it's in the top 10. A Georgian name, one could say, as Withycombe states that it's rise to prominence came with George II's daughter Amelia being nicknamed Princess Emily. Borne by two notable unmarried writers - Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson (though I don't think that Dickinson would have had much effect at the time, her poetry was not published until later).

Onto Louisa, it's 1870s peak is mentioned by Pickering in the Penguin Dictionary of First Names. Louisa is the Latinate form of Louise, whose bringing to prominence in England is usually attributed to Louise de Kérouaille, French mistress of Charles II. The name had been used in France for longer as a female form for Louis - eg Louise of Savoy, mother of 16th century French king Francis (or François) I. Louise was also the name given by Queen Victoria to her fourth daughter - Louise Caroline Alberta. Most of Louisas 'important bearers' seem to be Americans - author Louisa May Alcott and Louisa Adams - wife of American President John Quincy Adams - are the most prominent.

Charlotte is another very 'Georgian' name. It is French in immediate origin (ends up tracing back to Old German, but Charlotte is a French form) and the one of the first 'English' bearers was a French woman - Charlotte de la Tremoüille who married James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby. However, its popularity really took off with the marriage of King George III to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761. I assume that she was named after her father, who was a Charles. Anyway, Charlotte and George III added to the British contingent of Charlottes with their own daughter - Charlotte, later Queen of Württemberg. Their son, George VI, also had a Charlotte who, had it not been from her early death in childbirth, would have become Queen regnant of Britain. I think it's also necessary to mention the author Charlotte Brontë, born in the Georgian period but not famous until late 1840s. The fact that Charlotte has its peak in the 1870s rather than the 1840s or 50s does surprise me slightly and this may be a result of increased population by that time. Charlotte does have a fairly steady popularity until the 1870s, after which it declines noticeably.

Catherine. This was a name that I was surprised didn't have higher popularity. Whenever anyone mentions 'timeless' names my own mind leaps to Mary, Ann, Margaret, Elizabeth and Catherine. But it appears in Victorian times Catherine experienced popularity similar to Charlotte and Lucy rather than the very popular Mary and Elizabeth. From 1550 to 1700, Catherine or Katherine lingered around #10. Most of the influential bearers of the name of Catherine were much earlier than Victorian times - the 3 Catherine wives of Henry VIII - of Aragon, Howard and Parr, the French queen Catherine de' Medici, and Catherine the Great of Russia (died 1796 so closest to Victorian times). A contemporary Victorian bearer could be considered as Catherine Booth, wife of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.

Isabella is a name that is currently receiving a lot of attention, in Victorian times it had a fairly steady popularity among the Smiths - having a range of less than 100 births. The Queen of Spain at the beginning of the Victorian period was Isabella II, though she abdicated in 1868. It is the Latinate form of Isabel. Historically borne by several 'strong' queens - Isabella of Castile and Isabella of France, wife of Edward II of England - 'she-wolf of France'.

Top 10:
1 Mary
2 Ann
3 Elizabeth
4 Sarah
5 Alice
6 Annie
7 Florence
8 Edith
9 Ellen
10 Emily

No changes to the top 6, but two new interesting entries at 7 and 8. I see this as the emergence of the names that will define the late Victorian period - Florence and Edith. This also marks the disappearance of Jane from the top 10 and Emma - they are now down at #13 and 14.

There are so many names that peak in this period, so again, I apologise for the length of this post. Ann, Alice, Ada, Margaret, Clara, Kate, Frances, Lucy, Isabel and Eleanor. So, lets get on with it.

Ann. I have examined most of the Biblical background to Ann in Hannah. Anne or Ann was consistently #3 in the period 1600-1700, and only rose up a few places from 1550 to reach this spot. Most of the royal Anns are from the period 1450 to 1650 - Anne of Brittany, Anne of Cleves and Anne Boleyn - wives of Henry VIII, Anne of Denmark - wife of James I of England and VI of Scotland, Anne of Austria - wife of Louis XIII of France and mother of Louis XIV, the 'Sun King'. In Britain, Queen Anne reigned from 1702 to 14, and was the last of the Stuart dynasty. Closer to the Victorian period, it was borne by Ann Radcliffe - Gothic author and author Anne Brontë.

Alice. A name that was fairly prominent in the Medieval period, though was later overshadowed by more 'religious' names - Mary, Ann, Elizabeth. George Redmonds lists Alice as the most popular name in the period 1377-81, and it appears as #3 in 1550-9, then declining into the lower echelons of the top 10, and finally as #12 in 1690-1700. As seen here, Alice has risen into the #5 spot. Withycombe states that the name was regarded as old-fashioned and country in the 17th century, but was revived in the 19th century. For a more modern example, I'm thinking Abigail - fell out of favour in the 19th century as a maid's name, but is now experiencing a strong revival in the USA. Anyway, 19th century examples of use include Queen Victoria's second daughter, Alice of Hesse, born 1843, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll, published in 1865 - the Alice being named after Alice Liddell, born 1852, and the Australian town of Alice Springs - formed due to the opening of the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872, and the discovery of alluvial gold in 1887, 100km to the east of the town. Alice Bell (born roughly 1837) was the wife of Charles Todd, who helped set up the telegraph lines. More on Alice.

Ada. Personally, I associate Ada with Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, who described Charles Babbage's early 'computer' - the analytical engine. Ada was a name imported by the Germans - through the Georgian kings, a name in it's own right and a nickname for Adelaide - the name of William IV's wife. More on Ada.
Margaret. I consider Margaret to be a heavyweight timeless name - along with Elizabeth, Mary, Ann and Catherine. However, it's probably the name that is on the periphery of that group. It's heavy consonants have not translated wonderfully into this new Millenium, but is still experiencing use due to its variety of nicknames - Maggie, Margie, Peggy, Megan etc. Early use was due to its popularity as a non-Biblical religious name - borne by the childbirth patron saint Margaret of Antioch. It experienced especial use in Scotland where it was borne by the 11th century Scottish queen St Margaret. Withycombe states that Margaret was out of fashion in the 16th to 18th centuries, and revived in the 19th century. Margaret's high point in the Redmonds lists were from 1580-99 when it was #2, below Elizabeth. Fro, 1660-1700 it was #6. It appears as #10 in 1860-4, but by 1875-9 is #12.

Clara. Latin form of Clare, according to Withycombe arrived in England in the 13th century as both Clara and Clare (I think the assumption that Clares were called Clara on Latin documents, similar to Marys being Marias). Clara then came into fashion in the 19th century - there are a few sympathetic characters in Dickens' David Copperfield (published 1850) named Clara.

Kate. Nickname for Catherine, a common nickname in the 16th and 17th centuries, and then revived again in the middle of the Victorian period. At the beginning of the period, Kate has very few usages - not unknown but there is a big difference between 11 and 413 births, by the end it has declined from its peak.

Frances. I have been through Fanny, so Frances is fairly similar. Appeared in the Tudor period, often used to honour a male Francis (eg Frances Brandon in honour of her godfather Francis I of France). In the Redmonds list, Frances appears at the bottom - around #18 from 1600-1700. Its highest point is #13 in 1690-1700.

Lucy. Became popular due to St Lucy of Syracuse, a popular Medieval saint - so popular in Medieval times. Dunkling and Gosling state that it had a peak in Britain in the 1870s - obviously supported by this Smith data, and this was followed a generation later in USA (which does beg the question - how long is a generation?). Most of the notable bearers I can find are pre- or post-Victorian - Lucy Lockit in 'The Beggar's Opera' - first performed in 1728, Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the 'Anne of Green Gables' series - born 1868 but 'Green Gables' was not published until 1908, and Lucy Westenra from Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - just in the period by 4
years as published in 1897.

Isabel. Having recently read 'The Portrait of a Lady' by Henry James, I associate this name with Isabel Archer. Obviously the name has a history prior to 1880-81 when that novel was serialised. Came to England in the 12th century, and used interchangeably with Isabella and Elizabeth until 16th century. On the Redmonds list, Isabel is #10 from 1560-1600, and then declines from 1600 to 1700 to the bottom half of the top 20. More on Isabel.
Eleanor. Traditionally considered to have been brought to England by Eleanor of Aquitaine, and popularised by Eleanor (or Leonor) of Castile. Eleanor pops up and down between 10 and 20 in the Redmonds lists from 1550-1700, making it difficult to make and solid conclusions there. With the Smiths, Eleanor stays fairly consistently 'popular' (or more 'recognisable' - not super-popular, not uncommon) gaining less than 100 births between its trough and peak. More on Eleanor.