Charmin’ Sharman

sharman douglas
Sharman Douglas © 1947 LIFE

The name Sharman was the fastest-rising baby name of 1948, the second-fastest of 1949, and saw its highest usage in 1950:

  • 1953: 44 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1952: 63 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1951: 76 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1950: 160 baby girls named Sharman [peak]
  • 1949: 126 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1948: 30 baby girls named Sharman
  • 1947: 8 baby girls named Sharman

What was the influence?

American socialite Sharman Douglas.

Her father served as the U. S. ambassador to the Court of St. James’s from early 1947 to late 1950. While the family lived in England, Sharman became famous for her close ties to the British royal family — particularly Princess Margaret. (They were roughly the same age.)

Here’s what the American newspapers were saying about Sharman in mid-1947:

An eager, flaxen-haired teenager from Tucson, Ariz. has become Britain’s debutante of the year. The common people and the socially elect have fallen under her spell. She is tall, lithe Sharman Douglas, 19-year-old daughter of U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Lewis W Douglas. Apart from the two royal princesses, she is undoubtedly the most photographed girl in all Britain, screen stars included.

The press followed “Charmin‘ Sharman” throughout the time she was overseas.

In late 1948, for instance, the papers reported that she was dating two men — the Marquess of Blandford and the Marquess of Milford-Haven — both of whom had been linked to Princess Margaret. In mid-1949, it was reported that her father “had cut down on [her] social life” after a London columnist brought up the possibility of Sharman and Princess Margaret falling for the same man.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Sharman?

Sources:

  • “British Study Likely Romance.” Billings Gazette 18 Jul. 1949: 8.
  • “English Nobleman to Visit U.S.–Business Or Romance?” Sandusky Register 14 Oct. 1948: 16.
  • “Life Visits U.S. Ambassador to Britain.” Life 27 Oct. 1947: 150-156.
  • Sharman Douglas – Wikipedia
  • Wace, Barbara. “Sharman Douglas Captivates British Society in First Season.” Corpus Christi Caller-Times 12 Aug. 1947: 9.

3 thoughts on “Charmin’ Sharman

  1. For someone who was the “most photographed girl” in Britain at the time, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that usage for Sharman as a girl name rose in the UK (the first instance of a female Sharman that I can find and compare being born in 1943, before it was a masculine surname-transferred name). Below are the number of baby girls being given this name in England & Wales from 1947-1961 (taken from the FreeBMD Birth Index):
    1947 – 3 baby girls
    1948 – 7 baby girls
    1949 – 25 baby girls
    1950 – 57 baby girls
    1951 – 42 baby girls
    1952 – 28 baby girls
    1953 – 21 baby girls
    1954 – 16 baby girls
    1955 – 19 baby girls
    1956 – 13 baby girls
    1957 – 17 baby girls
    1958 – 11 baby girls
    1959 – 8 baby girls
    1960 – 6 baby girls
    1961 – 3 baby girls

    Disregarding its second rise in the US in 1967 – caused by Charlie Walker’s song “Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon” which did not occur in the England & Wales data, by the late-1970s, it had become rarely used there, much like in the US. By then, fewer than 3 baby girl Sharmans were born every year.

  2. Thank you for finding and posting all that England/Wales data for Sharman, m4yb3_daijirou! Very cool to see how the rise in usage was mirrored over there.

  3. I know a Sharman! The mother of a family I went to school with, probably born around 1960. I never knew where it might have come from, so thank you.

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