According to an article published in late January by Moldovan news site Publika TV, the most popular baby names in Moldova in 2016 were Sofia and David.
The article was hard to interpret, but here’s my guess at Moldova’s top girl names and top boy names of 2016:
4. Artiom (…which is based on the name of Greek goddess Artemis)
5. Ion (…looks molecular, but it’s actually a form of John)
Lord Francis Knollys was a close friend of the British royal family. So close that he served as as Private Secretary to the Sovereign under both Edward VII (from 1901 to 1910) and George V (from 1910 to 1913).
It’s not too surprising, then, that both of Knollys’ children were named in honor of the royals. His daughter was named Alexandra Louvima Elizabeth (b. 1888) and his son was named Edward George William (b. 1895).
Alexandra, Elizabeth, Edward, George, William — these are all names we know.
But “Louvima”? Where did that come from?
Turns out it’s an acronym. Edward VII (who was still “Albert Edward, Prince of Wales” back in 1888) and his wife Alexandra had six children: Albert Victor, George (later George V), Louise, Victoria, Maud, and Alexander John. “Louvima” was created from the first letters of the names of Edward’s three daughters:
Louvima = Louise + Victoria + Maud
The papers picked up on the interesting birth name right away. Here’s an article that appeared in a New Zealand newspaper in July of 1888:
Few people have noticed the second name bestowed on Sir Francis Knollys’ little daughter, who was baptised on May 5. Sir Francis, as every one knows, is the energetic and popular private secretary of the Prince of Wales, and in a torrent of grateful loyalty he has called his firstborn “Louvima,” a marvellous amalgam of the Christian names of the three young Princesses of Wales, “Louisa [sic], Victoria, Maud.” Since the expectant Mrs. Kenwigs invented the name of Morleena we have had nothing quite so good as this.
(Morleena Kenwig is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Nicholas Nickleby.)
Here’s a second-hand account printed in Notes & Queries that same month:
Louvima, a new Christian Name — It is stated in the newspapers — but it may not be correct; for, as Theodore Hook said to the credulous old lady, “Those rascally newspapers will say anything” — that Sir Francis Knollys, private secretary to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, has named his first-born Louvima, which is an ingenious amalgam of the names of the three daughters of the Prince — Louise, Victoria, and Maud.
After the news of Louvima Knollys got out, the rare name Louvima was given to baby girls in England (and other English-speaking regions) considerably more often. This lasted until the late 1910s.
Here are some of the Louvimas I found:
Hilda Louvima Pritchard, born in 1888 in England
Evangeline Louvima Brumbley, born in 1888 in England
Louvima Perline Ann Cunningham, born in 1889 in Arkansas
Lilian Louvima Daisy Blake, born in 1889 in South Africa
Louvima Primrose Massey-Hicks, born in 1890 in South Africa
Nina Louvima Shann, born in 1892 in New Zealand
Louvima Evelina Youell, born in 1893 in England
Louvima Griswold, born in 1894 in Idaho
Annie Louvima Brooksband, born in 1895 in England
Rita Louvima Faulkner, born in 1898 in Canada
Louvima Marie Crosson, born in 1901 in Florida
Louvima Naylor, born in 1902 in Iowa
Laura Louvima McKenzie, born in 1902 in Michigan
Florence Louvima Major, born in 1908 in Canada
I also discovered more than a few horses and boats named Louvima during this period.
One of those horses, in fact, belonged to the royal family itself. Which makes me wonder: who came up with the name originally? Was it Francis Knollys’ invention, or did he get the idea from someone in the royal family? Maybe one of the sisters? (The Romanov sisters — Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia — referred to themselves by the acronym “OTMA.”)
Louvima Knollys grew up very close to the royal family. In the photo below, taken in 1897, she’s posing with Queen Alexandra. The Queen is dressed as Marguerite de Valois, wife of Henry IV of France, and Louvima is dressed as a pageboy.
Louvima married twice, and had a son with her first husband (who died during WWI). Through her son she had four grandchildren and at least six great-grandchildren. As far as I can tell, Louvima’s unique name has not (yet) been passed down to any of her descendants.
Bede, Cuthbert. “Louvima, a New Christian Name.” Notes & Queries 7 Jul. 1888: 6.
Dutt, William Alfred. The King’s Homeland. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1904.
A reader named Debra wrote to me a few days ago about her situation:
I’ve loved the names Sophia and Olivia for about 10 years, but now as I am about to have my own baby girl, these names are very popular. I’m looking for girl names that are old fashioned, a tad unusual, and don’t clash with our names, Nathan and Debra. So far Silvia/Silvie is my front runner but my husband is not in love with it. I’d love suggestions.
Many expectant parents seem to be in the same boat regarding names like Sophia and Olivia (…and Isabella, and Hannah, and so on).
Luckily, there are plenty of other old-fashioned names out there. For instance, none of the following are super-popular on a national level right now (though a few, like Valeria and Lydia, do have the potential to become popular in the next few years):
I’d intended to exclude all D- and N-names (for a distinct first initial)…but Dorothy I kept. I like how it both begins with a D (as Debra does) and includes a Th (as Nathan does). A cute way to pay tribute to Mom and Dad, maybe?
Let me know what other names you would suggest!
Update: The baby is here! Scroll down to the last comment to find out which name Debra chose.
Sophia, Isabella, Hannah, Olivia… these names were once considered old-fashioned. Now that they’re the 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th most popular baby names in the nation, though, they are quite in fashion. This is an unfortunate turn of events for those who once loved the “antique” sound of these names.
Now the big question is: Are there any good, old-fashioned names left out there? Ones that don’t look like they’ll be skyrocketing in popularity anytime soon?