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Popularity of the Baby Name Cecil

Number of Babies Named Cecil

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cecil

Female Names from Early Cinema, Part 4

Here’s the fourth batch of intriguing female names I found in old issues of Photoplay:

Naturitch

Naturitch (sometimes written Nat-U-Ritch) was played by actress Red Wing (real name: Lillian St. Cyr) in the silent film The Squaw Man (1914), but the name Naturitch has never appeared on the SSA’s list.

Naturitch (character), Photoplay, 1919
Naturitch, Photoplay, Jan. of 1919

The Squaw Man is notable for two reasons: it was the first feature-length movie filmed in Hollywood specifically, and it was also the first film to be directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

Quirentia

Actress Anna Q. Nilsson, middle name Quirentia, appeared in over 200 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1911 to 1954, but the name Quirentia has never appeared on the SSA’s list.

Anna Q. Nilsson, Photoplay, 1916
Anna Q. Nilsson, Photoplay, June of 1916

Photo caption: “Anna Q. Nilsson is, as her name indicates, a native of neutral Sweden, her birth being recorded in the torn of Ystad. She first wooed dramatic renown on the stage of her native land and came to America in 1907. Four years later she entered the realm of the flickering shadows as a member of the Kalem company and appeared in many productions of that concern. She was requisitioned by Fox last year and was the star in “Regeneration.””

The middle name Quirentia is a nod to Anna’s birth date: March 30th, which is the feast day of St. Quirinius. Photoplay misspelled her middle name at least twice that I noticed — as “Quirientia” in the March 1915 issue and as “Querentia” in the August 1919 issue.

Sabra

Actress Sabra de Shon appeared in a single short film in 1915, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Sabra.

Sabra de Shon, Photoplay, 1915
Sabra de Shon, Photoplay, June of 1915

Sabra is in the top right photo. Caption: “Sabra de Shon, of Eclair, created Mrs. Hawkins, in “Quincy Adams Sawyer” and played the part for ten years.”

Teddy

Actress Teddy Sampson appeared in about 44 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1914 to 1923, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Teddy.

Teddy Sampson, Photoplay, 1915
Teddy Sampson, Photoplay, Aug. of 1915

Photo caption: “Teddy Sampson says it’s only fair that a little girl like herself should have been born in a big city like New York. She made her public debut at the age of 15 in a Gus Edwards vaudeville act — “School Days” — at the Circle Theater. She was introduced to Mr. Griffith of the Reliance-Majestic company while appearing at the Palace theater in New York, and the interview ended in her engagement to enter the moving picture field.”

More female names from early cinema: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5


On the “Changed Nomenclature of Our Babies”

An opinion about “modern names” from 1907:

A very good guide, in the study of New England genealogy, is given by the Christian name. In some families, Simon, Stephen and Thomas may follow down the line of sons; while others carry only John, James and William. Genealogists have great confidence in this clue, for those Christian old worthies used to name their sons after themselves and their fathers. They had not evolved into the “Vernons” and “Cecils” and “Irvings” of now-a-days; these modern names which mean nothing but a morbid craving for the romantic and unusual. Romances guide the Christian names of babies today, alas, instead of sense of family loyalty. Have we not lost something of the real spirit of genuineness and fealty with the changed nomenclature of our babies?

So amusing to think of Vernon, Cecil and Irving as romantic or unusual. I wonder what this writer would have thought of Jayden, Jaxon and Jace.

Source: “Genealogy.” Deseret Evening News 26 Jan. 1907: 26.

The Baby Name Donivee

donivee purkey
(August, 1941)
The baby name Donivee made the SSA’s baby name list just once, in 1942:

  • 1943: unlisted
  • 1942: 5 baby girls named Donivee [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

Where did this one-hit wonder baby name come from?

It was inspired by Donivee Purkey, an actress who gave Hollywood a shot in the early 1940s.

From mid-to-late 1941, 19-year-old Donivee Purkey of Texas was touted as a talented newcomer to motion pictures. The image of “Pretty Purkey” at right was published in August; Hedda Hopper wrote about her in September; Ann Marsters told readers to “watch for a pretty girl named Donivee Purkey” in October.

By the end of the year, Donivee Purkey’s name had changed twice: first to Lora Lee, then to Donivee Lee.

Despite all the hype and name-changing, though, Donivee Lee’s film career fizzled. Her first movie was supposed to be Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind, but it’s not listed on her IMDb page. Out of the four movies listed, The Great Moment (1944) is the only one in which she played a credited role.

According to one source, Donivee ended up marrying a Hollywood executive. I’m guessing she stopped pursuing a film career at that point.

Sources: Donivee Lee – IMDb, William Floyd Burroughs – Obituary
Image: “Pretty Purkey.” Milwaukee Journal 30 Aug. 1941, Journal Final ed.: 1.

P.S. Jinx, Gwili and Sivi are three more forgotten Hollywood actresses who left their mark on the U.S. baby name charts.

Goodbye, Gertrude…Again

Last month I spotted an article about the decline of certain old-fashioned baby names in the UK.

(The first two words in the title were “Goodbye Gertrude.” Wait a minute, I thought. Hasn’t the UK already said goodbye to Gertrude? Hm.)

Anyway…

The article, drawing from a recent Ancestry.co.uk study, listed baby names that are now “extinct,” “endangered,” and “at risk” in the UK.

  • Extinct Baby Names (no longer on the England & Wales baby name list)
    • Cecil, Rowland, Willie
    • Bertha, Blodwen*, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie, Muriel
  • Endangered Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 99% since 1905)
    • Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie, Norman
    • Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion, Phyllis
  • At-Risk Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 98% since 1905)
    • Arnold, Bernard, Clarence, Cyril, Ernest, Fred, Herbert, Percy, Roland, Sydney, Trevor, Walter
    • Ann, Dorothy, Eveline, Freda, Gwendoline, Irene, Jane, Janet, Jennie, Lilian, Lizzie, Margaret, Mary, Maud, Mildred, Nellie, Rhoda, Winifred

I wonder how Derek fared in their study.

The article also mentioned that, over the years, some names have been outpaced by their diminutive forms — Alfred by Alfie, Frederick by Freddie, Archibald by Archie, Charles by Charlie, Alexandra by Lexi, Sophia by Sophie, Eleanor by Ellie, and so forth.

*Blodwen is Welsh for “white flowers.” The Breton form is Bleuzen, in case you were wondering.

Sources: Goodbye Gertrude, hello Lexi: records show UK demise of some baby names, Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed

Baby Named After Titanic Victims

In April of 1912, Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Ferguson of Washington, DC, welcomed a baby boy.

They named him Archibald Astor after Major Archibald Butt and millionaire John Jacob Astor, both of whom had perished in the sinking of the Titanic on April 15.

The parents said they hoped their baby would “emulate the heroism of these men.”

(Though the newspaper article I saw claimed the baby “was born on the day the Titanic went down,” the Social Security Death Index lists Archibald A. Ferguson’s birthdate as April 11.)

Source: “Baby Is Named Archibald Astor.” Detroit Free Press 29 Apr. 1912: 4.

Baby Name Needed – Latin or Italian Name for Baby #1

A reader named Claudia is expecting her first baby (gender unknown). She’s looking for a Latin or Italian baby name.

She mentions that her middle name is Elisabetta, the baby’s father is named Simon Edmond, and the baby’s surname will be a 2-syllable D-name similar to Downie.

Here are some names that I think might work:

Adriana
Antonia
Augusta
Aurelia
Camilla
Clementina
Cecilia
Daria
Emilia
Eugenia
Fabia/Fabiana/Fabiola
Felicia
Frances/Francesca
Flora/Floriana
Julia
Isidora
Laura
Livia/Liviana
Lorenza
Lucia/Luciana
Marcella
Marina
Martina
Nunzia
Octavia/Ottavia
Paula/Paola
Philippa/Filippa
Piera/Pietra
Renata
Romana
Sabina
Sebastiana
Silvia/Silvana
Valentina
Victoria/Vittoria
Vincenza
Adrian
Antonio/Antony
Augusto
Aurelio
Camillo
Clemente
Cecil
Dario
Emilio/Emil
Eugene/Eugenio
Fabian/Fabiano
Felix
Francis/Francesco
Florian/Floriano
Julius/Julian
Isidore/Isidoro
Lauro
Livio
Lorenzo/Laurence
Lucian/Luciano
Marcello
Marino
Martin/Martino
Nunzio
Octavian/Ottavio
Paul/Paolo
Philip/Filippo
Piero/Pietro
Renato
Roman/Romano
Sabino
Sebastian/Sebastiano
Silvio/Silvano
Valentino/Valentine
Victor/Vittorio
Vincent/Vincenzo

Which of the above do you like best?

What other Latin and Italian names would you suggest to Claudia?