How popular is the baby name Estella in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Estella and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Estella.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Estella

Number of Babies Named Estella

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Estella

The Mystery of Essfa

baby name essfa mysteryThis might not be a mystery. It might just be my imagination running away with me. But I’ll put it out there anyway.

We all know there are flaws with the SSA data. Data scientist David Taylor made a slide deck illustrating several issues with the SSA data a few years ago, and I’ve blogged specifically about the baby name glitch of 1989 and the Korea-Kansas mis-codes.

So my question is this: Could Essfa, a one-hit wonder from 1921, be another flaw?

According to the SSA data, the name Essfa was given to 6 babies in 1921, and all 6 of these babies were born in Vermont.

But when we look for these Essfas in the SSDI, we get…nothing. Not a single Essfa from anywhere, born in any year.

This doesn’t prove anything, but it is very curious.

Then there’s the fact that all these Essfas were born in Vermont, a relatively small state not known for adventurous baby-naming. The SSA’s Vermont-specific data from 1921 puts oddball Essfa on par with classics like Emma and Julia:

All baby names given to 6 babies
in VT in 1921, according to SSA
VT,F,1921,Emma,6
VT,F,1921,Essfa,6
VT,F,1921,Germaine,6
VT,F,1921,Glenna,6
VT,F,1921,Gloria,6
VT,F,1921,Harriett,6
VT,F,1921,Julia,6
VT,F,1921,Kathryn,6
VT,F,1921,Mae,6
VT,F,1921,Margery,6
VT,F,1921,Wilma,6

Again, very curious.

After doing more research, I was only able to find a single person named Essfa who was born in Vermont in 1921. The intriguing part? She had multiple identities:

  • She was born Essfa Estella Bickford Vermont on May 7, 1921.
  • She became Essfa E. Davis upon marrying William Earl Davis in Vermont in 1937.
  • She became Essfa E. Millette upon marrying Rupert Frank Millette in New Hampshire in 1941.
  • She became Essfa E. Walker upon marrying Howard C. Walker in New Hampshire in 1953.
  • She became Essfa E. Davis (again) upon marrying Arthur I. Davis in Connecticut in 1964, and passed away in 1976 as a Davis.

And I found a sixth alias — in Billboard magazine, oddly enough. For decades Billboard operated a mail-forwarding service for traveling performers. The name “Essfa E. White” appeared regularly on their Letter List from 1945 until 1948. (She was also listed under the surname Millette once, in 1946.)

So we know for sure that one Essfa was born in Vermont in 1921, and that this Essfa used at least six different names (if you count Davis twice) throughout her lifetime.

At this point, I can’t help but wonder whether this particular Essfa was counted 6 different times in the SSA data somehow.

What do you think?

Source: Billboard – Wikipedia


Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1867

providence baby names 1867The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.

I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:

  • 1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
  • 1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
  • 254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.

And now, on to the names…

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

Girl Names

Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.

  1. Mary, 138 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 46
  3. Ellen, 37
  4. Margaret, 34
  5. Sarah, 31
  6. Annie, 19
  7. Elizabeth, 16
  8. Alice, 15
  9. Florence, 14
  10. Ann, Emma & Ida, 12 each (3-way tie)
  11. Minnie, 11
  12. Harriet & Julia, 9 each (2-way tie)
  13. Anna, Caroline, Carrie, Jennie, Joanna & Louisa, 8 each (6-way tie)
  14. Cora & Eliza, 7 each (2-way tie)
  15. Agnes, Clara, Edith, Rosanna & Theresa, 6 each (5-way tie)
  16. Bertha, Grace, Hannah, Hattie, Jane, Lillian, Maria, Martha, Nellie & Susan, 5 each (10-way tie)
  17. Eleanor, Fannie, Gertrude, Helen, Isabella, Lucy & Rosa, 4 each (7-way tie)
  18. Anne, Bridget, Ella, Emily, Esther, Eva, Lizzie, Mabel, Matilda & Ruth, 3 each (10-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amelia, Charlotte, Dora, Eleanora, Elvira, Henrietta, Jessie, Josephine, Kate, Louise, Lydia, Maggie & Rosella, 2 each (14-way tie)
  20. Abby, Addie, Adelaide, Adelia, Almina, Almira, Amanda, Amey, Amy, Anastasia, Angelie, Annis, Antoinette, Augusta, Aurelia, Bethiah, Cecelia, Celia, Clarissa, Clementina, Corielynn, Cornelia, Drusilla, Effie, Emeline, Estella, Ethelin, Fanny, Florentina, Frances, Gelie, Genevieve, Georgiana, Georgianna, Helena, Honora, Irene, Isabel, Issie, Juliann, Julietta, Katie, Laura, Leah, Leonora, Lillie, Lillis, Lily, Lottie, Luella, Margaretta, Margery, Margret, Marietta, Maude, May, Millie, Myra, Nelly, Phebe, Robie, Rosalthe, Rose, Selina, Sophia, Susanna, Susannah, Vienna, Viola, Vira, Virginia & Winifred, 1 each (72-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. John, 87 baby boys
  2. William, 75
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 50
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 40
  7. Joseph, 30
  8. Walter, 21
  9. Edward, 16
  10. Francis & Michael, 14 each (2-way tie)
  11. Patrick, 13
  12. Arthur & Robert, 12 each (2-way tie)
  13. Frank, Frederick & Henry, 11 each (3-way tie)
  14. Albert, 9
  15. Daniel & Peter, 8 each (2-way tie)
  16. David, Eugene, Howard & Samuel, 6 each (4-way tie)
  17. Alexander, Louis & Stephen, 5 each (3-way tie)
  18. Harry, Herbert, Hugh & Martin, 4 each (4-way tie)
  19. Carl, Edgar, Everett, Jeremiah & Willie, 3 each (5-way tie)
  20. Abraham, Alfred, Clarence, Cornelius, Dennis, Ernest, Ezra, Franklin, Freddie, Jacob, Jesse, Lewis, Luke, Nicholas, Philip, Sylvester, Theodore, Timothy, 2 each (18-way tie)
  21. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Amos, Andrew, Appleton, Archibald, Ashel, August, Benjamin, Benno, Bernard, Bertram, Burt, Byron, Clifford, Davis, Dexter, Dunlap, Edmund, Edwin, Elmer*, Embert, Forrest, Freddy, Gustav, Herman, Isaac, Jeffrey, Jerome, Josiah, Lucian, Malcolm, Matthew, Maurice, Milton, Nathan, Nehemiah, Nelson, Oren, Oscar, Otto, Owen, Paul, Ralph, Reginald, Richard, Sanford, Seth, Shirley, Sullivan, Terence, Theobald, Victor, Wanton, Warren, Weston, Wheelan, Wilford, 1 each (59-way tie)

*Elmer, who had the middle initial “E.,” was likely named after Civil War casualty Elmer E. Ellsworth.

Twins & Triplets

Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g) Triplets
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah

I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).

Sources:

Rare Female Names in Glasgow, 1914

In July, Eleanor of British Baby Names shared a 100-year-old newspaper article called What’s in a Name?

It said that a “correspondent of leisure” had kept track of all the female names that appeared in the Marriages and Deaths column of the Glasgow Herald during the second half of 1913. He spotted a total of 208 different names (shared among 3,500 women) during that time. The two most popular? Margaret and Mary. The next-most-popular were Elizabeth, Agnes, Janet and Isabella. The least popular were the 73 that appeared only once, including:

Ailsa
Alys
Anchoria
Carina
Carmen
Cassa
Celia
Clarinda
Clementine
Daphne
Diana
Easter
Elvina
Estella
Helga
Herminia
Honor
Illma
Inez
Iris
Lavinia
Livonia
Lucinda
Sadie
Sybella
Tooze
Una
Veir
Vera
Zoe

If this anonymous name-tracking correspondent were alive today, he would definitely be a baby name blogger. :)

Which of the above names do you like best?

Source: “What’s in a Name?” Western Daily Press 10 Jan. 1914: 7.

Girl Names Based on “Hester Jo” Needed

A reader named Q* contacted me a several years ago about choosing a name for her first daughter, Posy. Q is now expecting her second daughter (due in one week!) and would like some help naming baby #2.

I never wrote a post about Posy’s name, but I think a collective brainstorm is in order for baby #2.

The frontrunners so far are Gemma, Evie (“EH-vie”), Persephone (nn Sephie) and Belle, but Q says that “nothing has really grabbed us.”

Also, there’s this to think about:

We got some very sad news this weekend which is that our close family friend passed away. We would like to incorporate her name somehow in our daughter’s name.

Her name was Hester Jo. I don’t particularly like the name Hester Jo but we would really like to somehow honor her. I prefer Hestia or Hes or Esti to Hester, but none of these names really grab me, and the fact that our last name also ends in an “-er” sound doesn’t seem to mesh well with Hester.

Can you think of any creative ways to incorporate her name? I know that Hester means “star” so I was wondering if there are any other names meaning star or something similar that might be good. Or even matching the initials HJ?

The baby’s last name will be a 2-syllable T-name a lot like Tyler.

First, let me say that I’m so sorry for your family’s loss.

I think it’s wonderful that you want to honor Hester Jo. I can understand why “Hester” might not sound so hot with a surname that ends with -er, though.

Hester comes from Esther, which we know of through the biblical Queen Esther. We don’t know for sure what her name means. Esther could be based on the Persian word for “star,” on the name of the goddess Ishtar, on a Median word for “myrtle,” or on something else entirely.

One H-name with a direct connection to the original Esther is Esther’s birth name, Hadassah, which is Hebrew for “myrtle.” It could shortened to a nickname like Hada or Dassah to make it sound a bit peppier, like Posy.

Speaking of nicknames, short forms of Hester and Esther are Hettie and Essie. These could also be bestowed as-is, just like Posy (which is a nickname for Josephine).

Essie reminds me of Vanessa, a name invented by Jonathan Swift. He based it on the name of a friend, Esther Vanhomrigh, and featured it in his poem “Cadenus and Vanessa.” (And Vanessa gives rise to nicknames like Vana and Nessa.)

In terms of star-names, I like Stella, Estella, and Estelle — really, anything in the Stella family (stella is Latin for “star”).

Another star-themed idea is the Scandinavian name Astrid, which doesn’t have an etymological connection to the prefix astro- (which is based on the Ancient Greek astron, “star”) but looks/sounds like it does.

The name Johanna reminds me of Hester Jo a little — Jo in the front, followed by an H.

Other H-names, let’s see…Hazel, Honora (Nora), Heidi, Harriet, Helen, maybe even Hephzibah (nn Hepsie — Persephone/Sephie is on the table, so I had to throw this in!).

Out of this group, I like Hazel the best. It has a z-sound like Posy, and also a vegetation connection like Hester/Esther (possibly “myrtle”), Hadassah (definitely “myrtle”) and Posy (in the bouquet sense).

Now on to the current favorites…

I like them all, actually. I could see any of them in a sibset with Posy.

I’d be a little concerned about trendiness with both Gemma and Belle. Gemma’s been climbing the charts rather quickly in the last few years; you never know how high it could go. And Belle, not popular on its own, could get lost in a sea of girls with -bella names (Isabella is currently ranked #1, Bella #48, Isabelle #105, Annabelle #117, Izabella #140, etc.).

Sephie reminds me a lot of Posy — both are very rare and have an old-fashioned feel. But I don’t know how fair it is to give one daughter a name that is a nickname (i.e. 1 name) and the other a name that has a nickname (i.e. 2 names). If Posy had been Josephine (nn Posy), I would have been a lot more excited about Persephone (nn Sephie).

Finally, Evie. I have a feeling that most people pronounce it EE-vee, not EHV-ee, so correcting people could become a chore. Spelling it Evvie might help, though both names can be pronounced both ways, so the extra v may not make much of a difference.

Want to help Q name her daughter? Please leave a comment with your…

  • Ideas about how to incorporate the name Hester Jo (or the initials H. J.),
  • Opinions on the current favorites, and/or
  • Other helpful suggestions.

*Name edited out at Q’s request.

How They Named the Baby (Poem)

I think it’s time for a poem.

Here’s one from the late 1800s called “How They Named the Baby.” It was first published in humor magazine Judge.

They talked of Medora, Aurora and Flora,
Of Mabel and Marcia and Mildred and May;
Debated the question of Helen, Honora,
Clarissa, Camilla, and Phyllis and Fay.

They thought of Marcella, Estella, and Bella;
Considered Cecilia, Jeanette, and Pauline;
Alicia, Adela, Annette, Arabella,
And Ethel and Eunice, Hortense and Irene.

One liked Theodora, another Leonora;
Some argued for Edith and some for Elaine;
For Madeline, Adeline, Lily and Lora;
And then, after all, they decided on Jane.

Which of the above names do you like most? How about least?

Baby Names Needed for the Twin Siblings of Beatrix

A reader named Marissa, who has a daughter named Beatrix Penelope (nn Bea), is expecting twins–one boy, one girl. She’s got their middle names narrowed down (Anthony or Alexander for the baby boy, Daphne or Jillian for the baby girl) but she’d like some help with their first names.

Here’s what she’s looking for in a boy name:

For the boy I’d like names that are two syllables long and start and end in a consonant. So far I like Robert, Patrick, Daniel and Fabian. The only one he likes is Fabian, but we’re still not sure.

And here’s what she’s looking for in a girl name:

For the girl I’d like names that are three or four syllables long, and start and end in a vowel. So far I like Anastasia, Ophelia, Elena and Ursula, but he likes none of them.

The babies’ last name will sound something like Thisbe.

Here are some of the boy names I came up with:

Calvin
Clement
Chester
Conrad
Curtis
David
Declan
Dexter
Duncan
Felix
Franklin
Holden
Howard
Jasper
Kenneth
Lincoln
Linus
Lucas
Malcolm
Martin
Maxwell
Miles
Mitchell
Nathan
Nelson
Nigel
Nolan
Philip
Raymond
Reuben
Roland
Roman
Silas
Simon
Stuart
Thomas
Victor
Vincent
William
Winston

And here are some ideas for the girl name:

Acantha
Adela
Adelina
Adriana
Agatha
Alexandra
Alexina
Alicia
Allegra
Althea
Amelia
Annabella
Andrea
Angela
Antonia
Arabella
Araminta
Athena
Augusta
Aurelia
Aurora
Azalea
Eleanora
Eliana
Elisa
Eloisa
Estella
Eugenia
Eulalia
Imelda
Iona
Irena/Irina
Isabella
Isidora
Octavia
Odelia
Odessa
Olivia
Olympia
Ottilia

Which of the above do you like best with Beatrix? (And which ones make the best boy/girl pairings, do you think?)

What other names would you suggest to Marissa?

Baby Name Needed – Girl Name for Twin Sister

A reader named Ayelet is expecting twins. She and her husband won’t be finding out the babies’ genders ahead of time, so they’d like to be prepared with two boy names and two girl names.

So far they’ve got August and Dominic for the boy names and Celia for one of the girl names. Once they select a second girl name they’ll be all set.

They’d like something that isn’t common (i.e. outside of the top 500). They’re considering Aliyah, Angelie, Aurelia, Eva, Isla, Juliet and Valentina, but Aliena is the current favorite:

The name we love is Aliena. She is a character in Ken Follett’s novel “The Pillars of the Earth,” which is set in twelfth-century England. But we can’t get past the “alien” in the name. I have an Alienor in my family tree, so I thought about going the Eleanor route, but I don’t like that spelling; I think I’m in love with that “Ali” sequence.

The baby’s surname will start and end with the letter n, like Nelson.

First, about Aliena. It’s a pretty name, but I’d also be worried about that “alien” association. I don’t know if I’d risk it as a first name, but it might work well as a middle.

The only alternative I can come up with is Eliana, which is an (unrelated) anagram of Aliena. But it’s ranked 193rd and climbing, so it might be a bit too popular.

Here are some other possibilities. None of these are currently in the top 500, and the ones with asterisks have a-l-i sequences.

Adina
Antonia
Amity
Adele/Adeline
Anneliese
Beatrice
Catalina*
Callista
Coralie*
Corinna
Davina
Estella
Elsa
Eloise
Esme
Flavia
Ginevra
Gwendolyn
Helena
Irina
Isadora
Judith/Judy
Leona
Lavinia
Marina
Martina
Mara
Olive
Oriana
Odette
Paulina
Regina
Rosalie*
Rosaline*
Theresa
Vera
Viola
Verity
Venetia
Zinnia

Finally, there’s the option of simply feminizing one of the boy names. August could become Augusta or Augustina; Dominic could become Dominique or Dominica.

Which of the above girl names do you like best with August, Dominic and/or Celia? What other girl names would you suggest to Ayelet?