How popular is the baby name Dewitt 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 Dewitt.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dewitt


Posts that Mention the Name Dewitt

Babies named for Napoléon Bonaparte

Portrait of French Emperor Napoleon I (1769-1821)
Napoléon Bonaparte (circa 1812)

French military leader Napoléon Bonaparte may have spent his life trying to conquer a continent, but that life began and ended on islands.

He was born (as “Napoleone Buonaparte”) on the Mediterranean island of Corsica in 1769 — the same year that France took Corsica from the Republic of Genoa (now part of Italy). He died while in exile on the remote South Atlantic island of Saint Helena in 1821.

In between, Napoléon: attended military school on the mainland, began serving in the French Army, rose to prominence during the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars, became the de facto leader of France in 1799, declared himself Emperor in 1804, and proceeded to build a vast empire via the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

Needless to say, a large number of babies all over the world have been named “Napoleon” since that time.

I don’t want this post to get too crazy, though, so I’ve decided to collect namesakes from just two locations — France and the U.S. — and to stick to the years during which Napoléon was active.

Portrait of First Consul Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
Napoléon Bonaparte (circa 1803)

Napoléon’s namesakes in France

Thousands of French babies were named in honor of Napoléon from the mid-1790s to the mid-1810s.

In contrast with namesakes in other countries (like the U.S. and England), most of his French namesakes were given only his first name — not both names — and it was typically combined with one or more traditional French names (e.g., “Louis Napoléon,” “Jean Baptiste Napoléon”).

With that in mind, I went out of my way to find combinations that were a bit more varied…

  • Napoléon Baillot, b. 1793 in France
  • Jacques Napoléon Desiré Campa, b. 1795 in France
  • Napoléon Stéphanie Joseph Therin, b. 1797 in France
  • Napoléon Joseph Buttin, b. 1799 in France
  • Napoléon-Jean Demeester, b. 1800 in France
  • Napoléon Nicolas Senelar, b. 1801 in France
  • Guillaume Napoléon Pelletier, b. 1802 in France
  • Willebrod Napoléon Désiré Degrave, b. 1803 in France
  • Charlemagne Napoléon Lambert, b. 1804 in France
  • Napoléon Louis François Richounne, b. 1805 in France
  • Napoléon Parfait Furpille, b. 1806 in France
    • parfait means “perfect” in French
  • Bienaimé Napoléon Le Cagneux, b. 1807 in France
    • bienaimé means “beloved” in French
  • François Desiré Prosper Napoléon Loiseau, b. 1808 in France
  • Napoléon La Paix Lemasson, b. 1809 in France
    • la paix means “peace” in French
  • Gustave Napoléon Fichet, b. 1810 in France
  • Esprit Napoléon Houdry, b. 1811 in France
    • esprit means “spirit” in French
  • Napoléon Bonaventure Dusautier, b. 1812 in France
  • Auguste César Napoléon Decoene, b. 1813 in France
  • Napoléon-Etienne Vernoni, b. 1814 in France
  • Fructueux Napoléon Artigue, b. 1815 in France
    • fructueux means “successful” in French

Almost all of the namesakes in this group were boys, but a handful were girls with feminized forms of the name (like Napoléonne, Napoléonide, and Napoléontine).

Several dozen more boys — most of them born early on — were given only the surname:

  • Jacques Dominique Bonaparte Venkirch, b. 1796 in France
  • Augustin Bonaparte Joseph Galle, b. 1797 in France
  • Jean Baptiste Bonaparte Mollard, b. 1798 in France
  • Séraphin Adolphe Bonaparte Decorne, b. 1799 in France
  • Alexis Sébastien Bonaparte Poirée, b. 1801 in France

Napoléon had usually been called “General Bonaparte” or “citizen Bonaparte” before mid-1802, when the people of France went to the polls to decide: “Should Napoléon Bonaparte be consul for life?” Millions voted yes, and, after that, “he was generally known as Napoléon rather than Bonaparte.”

Napoléon’s namesakes in the U.S.

Napoléon didn’t wage any wars on North American soil (though he did sell a lot of that soil in 1803, when he let go of the Louisiana Territory for $15 million). Nonetheless, U.S. newspapers paid close attention to him:

French plebiscite mentioned in U.S. newspaper (July, 1802)
The “consul for life” vote mentioned in a Virginia newspaper, 1802

Americans were clearly impressed by Napoléon’s achievements, judging by the hundreds of U.S. namesakes born in the late 1790s and first decades of the 1800s. Many of these babies received both his first name and his surname:

Others were given only his first name:

And a good number simply got his surname:

  • Buonapart Manly Towler, b. 1796 in New York
  • Buonaparte Bennett, b. 1797 in Maryland
  • Buonaparte Mann, b. 1798 in Rhode Island
  • William Bonaparte Wood, b. 1799 in Massachusetts
  • Charles Bonapart Hunt, b. 1800 in Maine
  • George Washington Bonaparte Towns, b. 1801 in Georgia
  • Louis Bonaparte Chamberlain, b. 1802, probably in Mississippi
  • Lucion Bonaparte Keith, b. 1803 in Massachusetts
  • Consul Bonaparte Cutter, b. 1804 in Massachusetts
    • Napoléon Bonaparte served as Premier consul from 1799 to 1804
  • John Bonaparte Dixon, b. 1805 in North Carolina
  • Erastus Bonaparte White, b. circa 1806 in Rhode Island
  • Socrates Bonaparte Bacon, b. 1807 in Massachusetts
  • Bonaparte Crabb, b. 1808 in Tennessee
  • Madison Bonaparte Miller, b. 1809 in Vermont
    • James Madison served as 4th U.S. president from 1809 to 1817
  • Bonaparte Hopping, b. 1810 in New Jersey
  • Israel Bonaparte Bigelow, b. 1811 in Connecticut
  • Joseph Bonaparte Earhart, b. 1812 in Pennsylvania
  • Ampter Bonaparte Otto, b. 1813 in New York
  • William Bonaparte Steen, b. 1814 in South Carolina
  • Leonard Bonaparte Williams, b. 1815 in Virginia

A few of the people named Bonaparte (but not Napoléon) did have other given names — like Lucien, and Jerome — that could have been inspired by other members of the Bonaparte family. I found a Josephine Bonaparte Evans (b. 1815), for instance, who was probably named after Napoléon’s first wife.

Another of the relatively few females in this group was Federal Anne Buonapart Gist (b. 1799), the daughter of Joshua Gist, who served in the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Defining “Napoléon” and “Bonaparte”

Other famous men named Napoléon Bonaparte (including Napoleon III) also had namesakes, but it was the original Napoléon Bonaparte who put these two unusual names on the map.

So…what do they mean?

The Italian forename Napoleone has obscure origins, so the meaning isn’t known for certain. One popular theory is that it’s made up of the elements Neapolis, the original name of Naples, and leone, meaning “lion.” When Bonaparte was born in 1769, the name was “relatively common around Genoa and Tuscany,” though it was spelled a variety of ways (e.g., Nabulio, Nabulione, Napulione, Napolionne, Lapulion). The name had been used in his family before; his father’s uncle, for instance, was also named Napoleone.

The Italian surname Buonaparte, on the other hand, is much more straightforward: it’s made up of the elements buona, meaning “good,” and parte, meaning “part, share, portion.”

Was anyone in your family tree named after Napoléon?

Sources:

20 Baby names from flowers: Kalmia, Magnolia, Begonia, Zinnia

baby names from flowers

Spring is here! Let’s celebrate with some flower names.

But let’s do something a little different. Instead of the same old suggestions, like Lily and Rose, let’s check out some relatively modern flower names that ultimately come from Latinized surnames (via genus names).

Here’s a list of 20. Most of these are rarely used for humans, so if you’re looking for an unexpected nature name for a baby girl, this is a good place to start.

abelia flowers
Abelia

Abelia

Pronunciation: ah-BEEL-yah

Abelia flowers are white or pink, and usually scented. The genus Abelia is part of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).

Abelia was named for British surgeon and naturalist Clarke Abel (1780-1826). Clarke’s version of the surname Abel is likely based on the Hebrew name Abel, meaning “breath.” An identical German surname is based on a pet form of Albrecht, made up of elements meaning “noble” and “bright.”

The baby name Abelia is currently very rare.

allamanda flower
Allamanda

Allamanda

Pronunciation: ah-lah-MAHN-dah

Allamanda flowers are typically yellow, though some are pink. The genus Allamanda is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae).

Allamanda was named for Swiss botanist Frédéric-Louis Allamand (1736-1803). This French surname is based on the Middle French word meaning “German.”

The baby name Allamanda is currently very rare.

begonia flowers
Begonia

Begonia

Pronunciation: beh-G?N-yah

Begonia flowers come in a wide range of colors: white, pink, peach, salmon, red, orange, yellow, etc. With close to 1,500 species, Begonia is the 6th-largest genus of flowering plants.

Begonia was named for French office-holder and plant collector Michel Bégon (1638-1710).

The baby name Begonia is currently very rare.

camellia flower
Camellia

Camellia

Pronunciation: kah-MEEL-yah

Camellia flowers are white, pink, red, and sometimes yellow. The genus Camellia is part of the Theaceae family. Leaves of the species Camellia sinensis are used to produce tea.

Camellia was named for Czech Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706). The surname Kamel is derived from a word meaning “camel.” Camels are not endemic to Europe, but they were commonly used on house signs in central Europe during the later Middle Ages.

The baby name Camellia is currently ranked 2,597th.

cattleya flower
Cattleya

Cattleya

Pronunciation: KAT-lee-yah

Cattleya flowers come in a range of colors: purple, orange, white, yellow, etc. The genus Cattleya is part of the orchid family (Orchidaceae).

Cattleya was named for English merchant and horticulturist William Cattley (1788-1835). The first element of the English surname Cattley is based on either Catta, a personal name, or a word meaning “(wild) cat.” The second comes from the Old English word leah, meaning “woodland; clearing.”

The baby name Cattleya is currently ranked 1,684th. It was very rare until a character named Cataleya was featured in the 2011 movie Columbiana. The character’s name was based on the genus name.

clintonia flowers
Clintonia

Clintonia

Pronunciation: klin-T?N-ee-ah

Clintonia flowers are white, red, or green-yellow. The genus Clintonia is part of the lily family (Liliaceae).

Clintonia was named for U.S. politician and botanist De Witt Clinton (1769-1828). The English surname Clinton is based on one of two different place names. One place name was derived from Old English words meaning “enclosure, fence” + “settlement,” while the other means “Glyme (river)” + “settlement.”

The baby name Clintonia is currently very rare.

dahlia flower
Dahlia

Dahlia

Pronunciation: DAL-yah (first syllable can rhyme with “gal”, “doll,” or “dale”)

Dahlia flowers come in a wide range of colors. The genus Dahlia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae).

Dahlia was named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl (1751-1789). The Swedish surname Dahl is based on the Old Norse word dalr, meaning “dale, valley.”

The baby name Dahlia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 719th.

forsythia flowers
Forsythia

Forsythia

Pronunciation: for-S?TH-ee-ah or for-S?TH-ee-ah (chiefly British English)

Forsythia flowers are bright yellow. The genus Forsythia is part of the olive family (Oleaceae).

Forsythia was named for Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). The surname Forsyth is based on Fearsithe, a Gaelic personal name made up of the Gaelic words fear, meaning “man,” and sith, meaning “peace.”

The baby name Forsythia is currently very rare.

freesia flowers
Freesia

Freesia

Pronunciation: FREE-zhah, FREE-zhee-ah

Fragrant freesia flowers are white, yellow, pink, red, or blue-mauve. The genus Freesia is part of the iris family (Iridaceae).

Freesia was named for German botanist and doctor Friedrich Freese (1794-1878). The German surname Freese is based on an ethnic name for someone from Friesland.

The baby name Freesia is currently very rare.

gardenia flower
Gardenia

Gardenia

Pronunciation: gar-DEEN-yah

Gardenia flowers are white or pale yellow and strongly scented. The genus Gardenia is part of the coffee family (Rubiaceae).

Gardenia was named for Scottish-born American naturalist Alexander Garden (1730-1791). The English surname Garden is based on an occupational name for a gardener. It ultimately comes from the Old Norman French word gardin, meaning “garden.”

The baby name Gardenia is currently rare.

gazania flower
Gazania

Gazania

Pronunciation: gah-ZAY-nee-ah

Gazania flowers are shades of yellow and orange. The genus Gazania is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia.

Gazania was named for Greek humanist Theodorus Gaza (1398-1475).

The baby name Gazania is currently very rare.

gloxinia flowers
Gloxinia

Gloxinia

Pronunciation: glok-S?N-ee-ah

Gloxinia flowers are white, pink, red, blue or purple. The genus Gloxinia is part of the Gesneriaceae family.

Gloxinia was named for German physician and botanical writer Benjamin Peter Gloxin (1765–1794).

The baby name Gloxinia is currently very rare.

kalmia flowers
Kalmia

Kalmia

Pronunciation: KAHL-mee-ah

Kalmia flowers are white, pink or purple. The genus Kalmia is part of the heather family (Ericaceae).

Kalmia was named for Swedish-Finnish botanist Pehr Kalm (1716-1779).

The baby name Kalmia is currently very rare. (Years ago, a commenter mentioned that he’d named his daughter Kalmia.)

kerria flowers
Kerria

Kerria

Pronunciation: K?R-ee-yah

Kerria flowers are bright yellow. The genus Kerria is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).

Kerria was named for Scottish gardener and plant hunter William Kerr (d. 1814). The Scottish surname Kerr is a topographic name referring to a patch of wet ground overgrown with brushwood. It ultimately comes from the Old Norse word kjarr, meaning “copsewood, brushwood, thicket.”

The baby name Kerria is currently very rare.

lobelia flowers
Lobelia

Lobelia

Pronunciation: l?-BEEL-yah; l?-BEEL-ee-ah

Lobelia flowers are purple, pink, white or blue. The genus Lobelia is part of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae).

Lobelia was named for Flemsih botanist Matthias de L’Obel (1538-1616).

The baby name Lobelia is currently very rare.

magnolia flower
Magnolia

Magnolia

Pronunciation: mag-N?L-yah, mag-N?L-ee-ah

Magnolia flowers are fragrant and come in white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Because they predate bees and butterflies, they’re typically pollinated by beetles.

The genus Magnolia was named for French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The French surname Magnol may be based on either the Latin word magnus, meaning “great,” or on a French place name of uncertain derivation.

The baby name Magnolia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 831st.

monarda flower
Monarda

Monarda

Pronunciation: moh-NAR-dah

Monarda flowers are various shades of red, pink, and purple, and highly scented. The genus Monarda is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae).

Monarda was named for Spanish physician and botanist Nicolás Monardes (1493-1588).

The baby name Monarda is currently very rare.

plumeria flowers
Plumeria

Plumeria

Pronunciation: ploo-MEER-ee-ah

Plumeria flowers (also known as frangipani) are very fragrant and come in several colors. The genus Plumeria is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), like Allamanda.

Plumeria was named for French botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704). The French surname Plumier is based on an occupational name for either a feather dresser or a plumber. The former occupational name ultimately comes from the Latin word plumarius, meaning “embroidered with feathers,” while the latter comes from the Latin word plumbum, meaning “lead.”

The baby name Plumeria is currently very rare.

wisteria flowers
Wisteria

Wisteria

Pronunciation: wis-TEER-ee-ah

Wisteria flowers are are purple, violet, pink or white, and often scented. The genus Wisteria is part of the bean family (Fabaceae).

Wisteria was named for American physician and anatomist Caspar Wistar (1761–1818). Caspar’s surname is a modified form of the German surname Wüster.

The baby name Wisteria is currently very rare.

zinnia flower with butterfly
Zinnia

Zinnia

Pronunciation: Z?N-ee-ah, Z?N-ya

Zinnia flowers come in a wide range of colors (red, purple, orange, buff, yellow, etc.) and shapes. The genus Zinnia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia and Gazania.

Zinnia was named for German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759). The German/Jewish surname Zinn is based on an occupational name for a pewter worker or tinsmith. It ultimately comes from the Germanic word zin, meaning “tin, pewter.”

The baby name Zinnia is currently ranked 2,136th.

*

What other surname-derived flower names would you add to this list?

*

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Images: All but one of the flower images in this post are in the public domain. They come from MorgueFile, Pixabay, National Park Service websites, and Wikimedia Commons. The gloxinia image was adapted from Gloxinia by abelard1005 under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

More Names from Boston Burials: Ziba, Buttolph, Fear

Granary, Boston
Granary Burying Ground, Boston

Last month I posted about interesting names that can be found at King’s Chapel Burying Ground, one of the two cemeteries on Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Today let’s check out interesting names that can be found at the other cemetery on the Trail, Granary Burying Ground (est. 1660).

Here’s what I spotted (using a book of inscriptions):

  • A: Azor, Appoline, Adelbart, Adino, Adna, Affia, Albion, Alfrena, Alithere (female), Alletta, Angalesa, Anjennette, Areton, Aroline, Atsey, Avid
  • B: Barachiah, Bethulia, Buttolph
  • C: Cassander, Clarenia, Collford, Cornwall, Crispus (Crispus Attucks), Cushing
  • D: Danforth, Dering, Duty (male)
  • E: Egatha, Electa, Eudoxa, Euphaime, Eustis
  • F: Fessenden, Fitzwilliam, Fear, Fidealia
  • G: Gad, Geradine, Grisell
  • J: Jacquith, Jenevie, Jennet, Jocastia
  • K: Knight
  • L: Laban, Lately, Lisley, Llewellyn, Lodusky (female), Loungo
  • M: Mahala, Malvina, Maranda, Melatiah (female), Metcalf, Moody
  • N: Nahum
  • O: Olimpia, Olander, Onesiphorus, Orinda, Ozias
  • P: Patterick, Peace (male), Pearly, Peletiah, Pepperell, Peregrin, Person, Philobeth (male), Phineas, Pilgrim, Plummer, Prosillo (female)
  • R: Rasilla, Reconcile, Roxana (“from Roxbury”)
  • S: Samartha, Seath, Seferanna, Sophronia, Stoddard, Stanhope, Sylvender
  • T: Tamer, Theophilus, Thusia, Trueman
  • W: Waitstill, Welthea, Wilhelmina, Winthrop
  • Z: Zera, Ziba (male)

All of the above were listed just once. Notable names that appeared more than once in the book include Almira/Elmira, Bathsheba, Dewitt, Doritha, Elbridge, Epes (relatives of Epes Sargent), Gamaliel, Gershom, Gillam, Increase, Jotham, Keziah, Louisiana, Mehitable/Mehetable, Nabby, Pamelia/Permelia, Persis, Rozamond/Rozamund, Silence, Sylvanus and Tamzen.

Source: Gravestone inscriptions and records of tomb burials in the Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Mass. (1918) by Ogden Codman

Politicians Who Were Named After Other Politicians

I was just reading The Political Graveyard’s cool list of Politicians Named for Other Politicians. Many of the politicians on the list were named for U.S. presidents, but others were named for figures who aren’t as well-known today. Some examples:

  • Thirty politicians were named after Henry Clay (1777-1852).
  • Eighteen politicians were named after Abraham Gallatin (1761-1849).
  • Sixteen politicians were named after John Marshall (1755-1835).
  • Thirteen politicians were named after John Jay (1745-1829).
  • Twelve politicians were named after Patrick Henry (1736-1799).
  • Eleven politicians were named after DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828).
  • Ten politicians were named after Francis Marion (1732-1795).
  • Seven politicians were named after Edward Everett (1794-1865).
  • Seven politicians were named after Winfield Scott* (1786-1866).
  • Six politicians were named after John Calhoun (1782-1850).
  • Five politicians (and the term gerrymander) were named after Elbridge Gerry (1744-1814).

Some of those numbers are impressive. Makes me wonder how many baby boys nationwide were named after these men.

*Winfield Scott lost to Franklin Pierce in the 1852 presidential election. One of his namesakes, Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), lost to James Garfield in the 1880 presidential election. Not a lucky name for White House hopefuls, I’d say.