The other week the office for national statistics released the top 100 most popular baby names in England and Wales. This got me thinking at how the popularity of names has changed over the years. Are there any names that are consistently place high in the rankings and how do the top two names in any given year compare to 1860.
I chose 8 names that appear to me to be found in the census over the years the most and looked at how they ranked in the listing from 1860 to 2017.
It’s probably no surprise that in the 1860 which names were most popular. People were still using the more traditional names and naming their children after themselves or their grandparents.
By 1890 things had begun to change. William and Mary were still the most popular names but Anne and Catherine had begun to lose favour. If you consider their name variants though Ann was ranked 31st and Katherine was 153rd in the rankings. Of the names chosen Henry was the lowest ranking boy’s name.
From the data from 1924 we can see that the most popular names have changed. For boys it was John and for girls it was Margaret with William and Mary both slipping to 2nd on the list. In 1860 John ranked 2nd and Margaret ranked 10th. Both Anne and Catherine had risen up the ranks again.
By 1954 the most popular names in England and Wales were David and Susan, a completed change from previous years. In 1860 David ranked 17th and Susan 35th. From the 8 above William had slipped to 15th and Mary to 9th. Surprisingly Ann was back up to 10th and Catherine to 26th but Henry had fallen down to 83rd.
Jump forward to 1984 and the most popular names were Christopher and Sarah. I should know Sarah was popular. In the year I was born my parents thought it was a little used name, but in my class at secondary school there were 4 of us, with 3 of use born within 3 days of each other. In 1860 Christopher ranked 44th and Sarah 3rd. But what of our 8? Well the most popular of them were James and Elizabeth at 2nd and 25th respectively, but Henry and Anne fell out of the top 100.
So to last year 2017. Well the most popular names were Oliver and Olivia. In 1860 Oliver was ranked 63rd and Olivia 186th. In 2017 Anne was still out of the top 100 still and William was still the most popular of the boy’s names at 11th and Elizabeth still held the top spot at 44th. Both Catherine and Mary were down in the 300’s but Henry was back up to 13th.
I suppose in general it doesn’t really matter where our names rank, it’s more for interest than anything else. It can help genealogist as they may get a better feel for what names to look out for. If the parents are William and Mary then the chances are they will have children with the same name and may have been named after their parents themselves.
If you want to know how your name ranks why not have a look at:
and look where you name comes by year. Happy hunting.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!