How popular is the baby name Benjamin in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Benjamin.
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On the original show, Theresa was portrayed by Burnett as a bit overbearing. But, she always brought extra love…and helped them name their daughter Mabel. When Jamie and Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) couldn’t decide on a name for their baby, Theresa proclaimed that “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love,” an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Laura explain Ritchie’s middle name. The Buchman’s decide to call their daughter Mabel.
The conversation between Rob Petrie (dad) and Ritchie Rosebud Petrie (son) referenced above, from the 1962 Dick Van Dyke episode “What’s in a Middle Name?” [vid]:
Rob: …and there’s no reason to look so sad, your middle name isn’t really Rosebud.
Ritchie: Yes it is, my birth certificate says it’s Rosebud.
Rob: Yes it does, but do you know why?
Ritchie: No, but I wish it was ‘Jim.’
Rob: So you see, Ritch, actually, your middle name is Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David. And, the initials to all of your middle names spells…
(The seven names were suggestions from various family members. To see the scene and hear the full explanation, click the link to the video.)
From the 2018 children’s book Who Is Pele? by James Buckley, Jr.:
Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born on October 23, 1940, in the tiny village of Três Corações (say: TRACE kor-ah-SOYS), Brazil. Even in 1940, there were many parts of the world that did not have electricity. Most of southeastern Brazil was one of those areas. In honor of their village finally getting electricity, Edson’s parents named their first son after the American inventor Thomas Edison.
My father tells me that they were on their honeymoon at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, I believe. They were looking at a da Vinci painting, and allegedly I started kicking furiously while my mother was pregnant. And my father took that as a sign, and I suppose DiCaprio wasn’t that far from da Vinci. And so, my dad, being the artist that he is, said, “That’s our boy’s name.”
Looking forward, there’s plenty more space for creativity with highly unique but still highly religious names. Of the 2,606 biblical names I track in my ongoing research, only 811 ever had a year with more than 4 baby boys or girls given that name. We haven’t yet seen kids named Abijam or Paltiel, nor have we seen name fads for Philetus or Berechiah. Even notably faithful biblical figures like Ehud, Elkanah, Habakkuk, Hilkiah, and Jehonadab have been passed over.
If you ever come across an interesting name-related quote (or article), please let me know!
One of the most interesting usage patterns in the very early baby name data is that of Belva, which spiked twice: in 1884 and again in 1888. In fact, it was the fastest-rising girl name of 1884 by a wide margin.
1891: 23 baby girls named Belva (542nd)
1890: 42 baby girls named Belva (386th)
1889: 31 baby girls named Belva (431st)
1888: 66 baby girls named Belva (289th)
1887: 27 baby girls named Belva (424th)
1886: 23 baby girls named Belva (455th)
1885: 30 baby girls named Belva (373th)
1884: 66 baby girls named Belva (234th)
1883: 5 baby girls named Belva (937th)
1882: 5 baby girls named Belva (922nd)
1881: 6 baby girls named Belva (rank: 747th)
The SSDI data reveals higher raw numbers, but the same double-spike pattern:
1891: 50 people with the first name Belva
1890: 67 people with the first name Belva
1889: 59 people with the first name Belva
1888: 95 people with the first name Belva
1887: 33 people with the first name Belva
1886: 35 people with the first name Belva
1885: 62 people with the first name Belvas
1884: 105 people with the first name Belva
1883: 9 people with the first name Belva
1882: 9 people with the first name Belva
1881: 3 people with the first name Belva
What was the influence?
An impressive lady named Belva Ann Lockwood, who ran for president of the United States in both 1884 and 1888.
Belva was born into the Bennett family of western New York in 1830. Her four siblings were named Rachel, Warren, Cyrene, and Inverno (which means “winter” in Italian).
At the age of 18 she married a local farmer, Uriah McNall, and soon after she had a child, Lura. But Uriah died of tuberculosis, leaving Belva a widow at age 22.
She then took the highly unusual step of pursuing higher education. She attended Genesee College (later Syracuse University), graduated in 1857, and began working in the school system. She said:
The male teachers in the free schools of the State of New York received more than double the salary paid to the women teachers at that time, simply because they were men, and for precisely the same work. […] I at once began to agitate this question, arguing that pay should be for work, and commensurate to it, and not be based on sex.
Belva had a strong interest in law and in politics, so in 1866 she took another unusual step: she moved with her daughter to Washington, D.C., and began attending one of the few law schools that would admit women. She also married a second time (to Rev. Ezekiel Lockwood) and had a second daughter (Jessie, who lived only 18 months).
She completed the course of study, but, because she was female, she had to fight to receive a diploma. After that, she began practicing law. “Her clients were primarily blue-collar laborers, maids, and tradesmen and her work consisted of all manner of civil and criminal cases.”
In 1879, Belva became the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar, and in 1880, she became the first woman to argue a case, Kaiser v. Stickney, before the Supreme Court.
In 1884, she was nominated for president by the National Equal Rights Party — even though women didn’t yet have the right to vote. When one reporter asked her whether or not she was eligible to become president, Belva replied: “There’s not a thing in the Constitution that prevents a woman from becoming President. I cannot vote, but I can be voted for.”
The same party nominated her again in 1888. (Also this year, the community of Lockwood in Monterey County, California, was named after her.)
Though she didn’t come close to winning the race either time — the winners were Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, respectively — she did succeed in drawing attention to the cause of women’s suffrage.
She continued to practice law into her 80s, and died in 1917 at the age of 86.
I’m not sure how Belva’s parents selected her name, but a user at Behind the Name thinks that “Belva” evolved as a feminine variant of the name Belvedere, which originated as an Italian toponymic surname made up of the elements bello, meaning “beautiful,” and vedere, meaning “to see” or “to look at.”
What are your thoughts on the baby name Belva? Will it ever be stylish again, do you think?