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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Francois

Number of Babies Named Francois

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Francois

Large French-Canadian Family in Massachusetts

Francois Gervais was born in St. Roch (near Montreal) in 1847. He later moved to Worcester, Mass., and found work as a carpenter.

He and his second wife, Marie Louise, became the parents of 21 children within their first 20 years of marriage, according to a New York Times article from 1895 about “Francis” and his family. At that time, only 9 of the children were living:

  • Frank, 18 years old
  • Arthur, 17
  • Roch, 14 (called Rodrique elsewhere)
  • Henry, 10
  • Louise, 9
  • Eugene, 5 (middle name George)
  • Edward, 4
  • Eva Marie, 3
  • Albert, 1.5

I’ve only been able to track down two of their non-surviving children, Josephine (b. 1889) and Joseph W. (b. 1893).

After the article came out, Francois and Marie Louise had several more children, but it looks like only one survived:

  • Joseph and Marie, twins, b. 1896, died of “infantile weakness”
  • John, b. 1898, survived
  • Dorila, b. 1899, died of diphtheria

Francois also had triplets with his first wife, Melvina, but the babies didn’t survive, and Melvina died a few years later.

Source: “Twenty-One Children in Twenty Years.” New York Times 23 Jun. 1895: 21


Vermont Family with 23 Children

In 1872, The Burlington Free Press printed a story about a 98-year-old widow in Vermont who’d given birth to 23 children.

Marie Abert was born in Quebec in 1773 and married her late husband, Francois Peppin, at the age of 17. They left Canada for Vermont in 1838.

It was noticeable, in conversation with the old lady, that while her memory of the names and ages of her elder children was quite distinct, her recollection of the latter ones who have died grew indistinct, after the fifteenth or sixteenth, and the names of four she was unable to give us.

Here are the names of most of her children:

1. Francois
2. Antoine
3. Marie
4. Jean Baptise
5. Pierre
6. Joseph
7. Oliver
8. Pauline (twin)
9. Clemence (twin)
10. Julia
11. Andrew
12. Timothy
13. Hortense
14. Clemence
15. Zoe
16. “After Zoe came four children, two boys and two girls, all of whom died young.”
17. ?
18. ?
19. ?
20. Bruno
21. Paul
22. Seth
23. ? (boy)

Marie and Francois also had at least 99 grandchildren and 98 great-grandchildren.

Which of the 23 names — the ones that are known, anyway — is your favorite?

Source: “A Large Family.” New York Times 6 Jun. 1872.

What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?

The image below, of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, was captured in early 1838 by Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype.

It may be the earliest surviving photograph of a person. Two people, actually. Both are in the lower left:

Daguerreotype: Boulevard du Temple

Here’s a close-up:

Boulevard du Temple, detail

The standing man is getting his shoe shined, and the other man (partially obscured) is doing the shoe-shining.

Of all the people on the sidewalk that day, these were the only two to stay still long enough (about 10 minutes) to be captured in the image.

Now for the fun part!

What would you name these two Frenchmen?

Let’s pretend you’re writing a book set in Paris in the 1830s, and these are two of your characters. What names would you give them?

Here’s a long list of traditional French male names, to get you started:

Abel
Absolon
Achille
Adam
Adolphe
Adrien
Aimé
Alain
Alban
Albert
Alexandre
Alfred
Alphonse
Amaury
Amroise
Amédée
Anatole
André
Anselme
Antoine
Antonin
Apollinaire
Ariel
Aristide
Armand
Arnaud
Arsène
Arthur
Aubert
Aubin
Auguste
Augustin
Aurèle
Aurélien
Baptiste
Barnabé
Barthélémy
Basile
Bastien
Benjamin
Benoit
Bernard
Bertrand
Blaise
Boniface
Bruno
Calixte
Camille
Céleste
Célestin
Césaire
César
Charles
Christian
Christophe
Clair
Claude
Clément
Clovis
Constant
Constantin
Corentin
Corin
Corneille
Cosme
Cyril
Damien
Daniel
David
Denis
Déodat
Désiré
Didier
Dieudonné
Dimitri
Diodore
Dominique
Donat
Donatien
Edgar
Edgard
Edmé
Edmond
Édouard
Élie
Eloi
Émeric
Émile
Émilien
Emmanuel
Enzo
Éric
Ermenegilde
Ernest
Ethan
Étienne
Eugène
Eustache
Évariste
Évrard
Fabien
Fabrice
Félicien
Félix
Ferdinand
Fernand
Fiacre
Firmin
Florence
Florent
Florentin
Florian
Francis
François
Frédéric
Gabriel
Gaël
Gaëtan
Gaspard
Gaston
Gaubert
Geoffroy
Georges
Gérard
Géraud
Germain
Gervais
Ghislain
Gilbert
Gilles
Gratien
Grégoire
Guatier
Guillaume
Gustave
Guy
Hector
Henri
Herbert
Hercule
Hervé
Hilaire
Hippolyte
Honoré
Horace
Hubert
Hugues
Humbert
Hyacinthe
Ignace
Irénée
Isidore
Jacques
Jason
Jean
Jérémie
Jérôme
Joachim
Jocelyn
Joël
Jonathan
Joseph
Josse
Josué
Jourdain
Jules
Julien
Juste
Justin
Laurent
Laurentin
Lazare
Léandre
Léo
Léon
Léonard
Léonce
Léonide
Léopold
Lionel
Loïc
Lothaire
Louis
Loup
Luc
Lucas
Lucien
Lucrèce
Ludovic
Maël
Marc
Marcel
Marcellin
Marin
Marius
Martin
Mathieu
Mathis
Matthias
Maurice
Maxence
Maxime
Maximilien
Michaël
Michel
Modeste
Narcisse
Nathan
Nathanaël
Nazaire
Nicéphore
Nicodème
Nicolas
Noé
Noël
Norbert
Odilon
Olivier
Onésime
Pascal
Patrice
Paul
Philippe
Pierre
Placide
Pons
Prosper
Quentin
Rainier
Raoul
Raphaël
Raymond
Régis
Rémy
René
Reynaud
Richard
Robert
Roch
Rodolphe
Rodrigue
Roger
Roland
Romain
Rosaire
Ruben
Salomon
Samuel
Sébastien
Séraphin
Serge
Sévère
Séverin
Simon
Sylvain
Sylvestre
Télesphore
Théodore
Théophile
Thibault
Thierry
Thomas
Timothée
Toussaint
Urbain
Valentin
Valère
Valéry
Vespasien
Victor
Vincent
Vivien
Xavier
Yves
Zacharie

For some real-life inspiration, here are lists of famous 19th century and 20th century French people, courtesy of Wikipedia. Notice that many of the Frenchman have double-barreled, triple-barreled, even quadruple-barreled given names. (Daguerre himself was named Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.)

Source: The First Photograph of a Human

The Baby Name Normandie

normandie linerWhen I first noticed the name Normandie on the SSA’s 1944 baby name list, I thought the name must have something to do with the Battle of Normandy.

But two things weren’t right. First, the English version of the word, Normandy, was nowhere to be found that year. Second, as I worked backwards through the lists, I noticed more and more baby girls named “Normandie.” So, my Battle of Normandy theory was blown.

But that’s fine, because the theory I have now is a lot more interesting.

The name Normandie debuted on the list in 1935, and appeared on the list a total of 5 times:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1942: 14 baby girls named Normandie
  • …unlisted…
  • 1937: 11 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 7 baby girls named Normandie [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted

Where did it come from?

My guess is the French ocean liner the SS Normandie, which was the largest and most luxurious passenger ship of the late 1930s.

Unlike other ships of that era, the Normandie was built to cater to the wealthy. Most of the opulent Art Deco interior was specifically designated for first-class use:

Here was a ship where the first class dining room accommodated 700 guests sitting under 12 pillars of illuminated Lalique glass and 38 matching columns along the walls. There was a winter garden filled with exotic flora and fauna, a swimming pool, and a theatre.

First class suites had pianos, multiple bedrooms and their own decks.

In mid-1935, the Normandie crossed the Atlantic on its maiden voyage. One of the passengers was Madame Lebrun, wife of French president Albert François Lebrun.

Tens of thousands of people saw the ship off from Le Havre, France, and tens of thousands more lined the docks at New York Harbor to watch it arrive just 4 days and 3 hours later — a new westbound speed record.

All of [the Normandie-related] events, the mere presence of Normandie in New York and the atmosphere that she created fueled the media and popular obsession with the ocean liner and the famous passengers she had on board.

Two years later, in 1937, the Normandie broke the westbound speed record again, this time completing the trip in just under 4 days.

The ship ended up crossing the Atlantic a total of 139 times, ferrying notable passengers like Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney, Ernest Hemingway, Cary Grant and Bob Hope back and forth between Europe and the U.S.

But the ship’s career was cut short when, just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, U.S. authorities seized control of the Normandie while it was docked at Pier 88 on the Hudson River. While being converted into a troopship in early 1942, it caught fire and capsized onto its port side. The Normandie was righted in 1943, but was ultimately scrapped in 1946.

What do you think of the baby name Normandie?

UPDATE, 7/29/15: Normandie, Take Two

Sources: Art deco ocean liner exhibition opens in New York, The Rich and Famous Creating a Buzz for Normandie, United States seizes French liner Normandie

What’s the Origin of Thelonious?

Thelonious MonkEver wonder about Thelonious Monk’s distinctive first name?

The jazz great inherited the name from his father, Thelonious Monk, Sr., who was born in North Carolina in 1889. No one knows for sure how his father came to have the name, but I’ve seen some good guesses:

  • Biographers Jacques Ponzio and Francois Postif think Thelonious comes from Thelonius, a Latinized form of the German name Tillman/Tillmann, which would had been brought to the Carolinas by German missionaries.
  • Biographer Robin D. G. Kelley suggests it was based on the name of St. Tillo, a 7th-century Benedictine monk. “In France he is called St. Theau, […] and in Germany he was referred to as Hilonius.”
  • Author Sam Stephenson brings up the possibility that it was inspired by “a renowned black minister in nearby Durham, North Carolina, Fredricum Hillonious Wilkins.”

How many baby boys have been named Thelonious since Thelonious Monk became well known? The name started popping up on the Social Security Administration’s baby name list in the 1960s:

  • 1968: 9 baby boys named Thelonious
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 10 baby boys named Thelonious
  • 1964: 7 baby boys named Thelonious
  • 1963: 6 baby boys named Thelonious
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Thelonious [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

There were at least 24 more in the 1970s, 11 more in the 1980s, 36 more in the 1990s, and 88 more in the 2000s. That’s a grand total of at least 196 babies named Thelonious over the last fifty years.

Sources:

  • Fitterling, Thomas. Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music. Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1997.
  • Kelley, Robin D. G. Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. New York: Free Press, 2009.
  • Stephenson, Sam. “Thelonious Monk: Is This Home?” Oxford American 2007 Music Issue: 112-117.