How popular is the baby name Cordelia 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 Cordelia.
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The unusual baby name Dewilla debuted in the baby name data in 1935:
1937: 6 baby girls named Dewilla
1935: 8 baby girls named Dewilla [debut]
What put it there initially?
A murder that began as a mystery.
On November 24, 1934, the bodies of three slain girls were discovered in the woods near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The case was dubbed the “babes in the woods” mystery by the press.
After about a week, the police were able to identify the bodies as belonging to sisters Dewilla Noakes (age 10) and Cordelia Noakes (age 8), and their older half-sister Norma Sedgwick (age 12).
They were originally from Roseville, California, and had recently traveled east with their father, Elmo, and his teenage niece, Winifred — both of whom were later found shot to death over 100 miles away in Altoona. Contemporary sources guessed that Elmo and Winifred were on the run because they were in an illicit relationship.
That doesn’t explain how or why the three girls ended up dead in Pennsylvania, though. The assumption is that Elmo suffocated them, but his motive isn’t known for sure. (Perhaps the family was out of money and Elmo didn’t want the girls to starve.)
This sensationalized, Depression-era crime happened around the same time that Charles Lindbergh‘s baby boy was kidnapped (1932) and the boy’s murderer was captured and put on trial (1934 to 1936).
Do you like the name Dewilla? (How about the names Cordelia and Norma?)
When we think of King Lear, we think of the famous William Shakespeare play, which was written in the very early 1600s.
But the story of the legendary king of Britain predates Shakespeare by centuries. The first written account we know of comes from The History of the Kings of Britain (circa 1136 A.D.) by British cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth.
In Will’s version, the king is named Lear and the three daughters are named Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia. But in Geoff’s version, the king is Leir and the daughters are Gonorilla, Regau and Cordeilla. And in the dozens of versions of the story published in between, the names are rendered all sorts of ways:
Interesting how Shakespeare’s “Goneril” and “Cordelia” are easy to differentiate, but certain earlier versions of the two names were quite similar. Modern academics associate them with the Latin words gonos, meaning “genitals,” and cordis, meaning “heart.”
Charlton, H. B. Shakespearian Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948.
Perrett, Wilfrid. The Story of King Lear from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Shakespeare. Berlin: Mayer & Müller, 1904.
A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.