How popular is the baby name Idawalley in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Idawalley and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Idawalley.
Elea’s list of curious baby names from 1871 included one that I found especially curious: Birthright.
I’d never seen the word “birthright” used as a baby name before, so I went searching for others.
Turns out that, over the last few centuries, the name Birthright has been given to dozens of babies — both male and female. Most of the time it’s used as a middle name.
My guess is that Birthright tends to represent a surname being passed down within a family, as was the case with Lemuel Birthright Stevens (1898-1977) of Tennessee, whose mother was Misniah Birthright.
Another interesting name from the 1871 list: Grace Darling. No doubt she was named after English life-saver Grace Darling (1815-1842). I’ve never blogged about Grace, but I have blogged about her American counterpart, Idawalley. (And also about Idawalley’s mother’s family.)
What curious names have you run into recently?
I wrote about Idawalley Zoradia Lewis a few years ago, but didn’t talk about the source of her unusual name.
She was named for her mother, Idawalley Zoradia Willey (1815-1879), who was born and raised in Rhode Island along with eight unusually named siblings and half-siblings — nearly all girls.
While I don’t know the names of all nine Willey children, I have tracked down these six:
- Alzada Roslyn (her daughter was also named “Alzada Roslyn”)
- Erasmus Darwin (apparently named for Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin)
- Cordelia Joanna
- Octavia Lodiska
- Idawalley Zoradia
- Laura E. (probably Effigenia, as her daughter was named “Laura Effigenia”)
Given the names above, what do you think the other three daughters in the Willey family might have been called?
Legendary lighthouse keeper Idawalley Zoradia “Ida” Lewis was born in 1842.
She was named the keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, in 1870s after the previous keepers (her parents) had both passed away.
During an era in which light keepers, typically male, were “frequently asked to risk their lives to saved the shipwrecked or others in danger of drowning,” Ida became famous for her superlative lifesaving abilities. She’s officially credited with saving 18 lives, though the actual count may have been double that.
She served as keeper until her death in late October, 1911.
The new keeper, Capt. Evard Jansen, arrived with his family shortly thereafter. Jansen’s wife gave birth to a baby girl in early December. The baby was the first and only baby ever born at the light, and she was named Ida Lewis Jansen.
In 1924, the island and the light were named for Ida Lewis as well. The light was later decommissioned, but has since been replaced by the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
- “Commissioning Special Guest Mrs. Ida Lewis Jansen.” Ida Lewis Yacht Club Newsletter June 2010: 3.
- “First Baby of Lime Rock.” New York Times 18 Dec. 1911: 1.
- Idawalley Zorada Lewis (-Wilson), Keeper, USLHS
- Skomal, Lenora. Keeper Of Lime Rock. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003.
I took a few dozen of my oldest “unusual real names” lists and combined them here:
- Abolhassan Bani-Sadr (born in 1933) – First president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- Adonijah Strong Welch (born in 1821) – U.S. Senator from Florida.
- Aeriwentha Faggs “Mae” Starr (1932-2000) – American athlete.
- Anning Smith Prall (1870-1937) – U.S. Representative from New York.
- Arphaxed Loomis (1798-1885) – U.S. Representative from New York.
- Atoosa Rubenstein (born in Iran in 1972) – Former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine.
- Baskerville Holmes (born in 1964) – American basketball player named for The Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Batman bin Suparman (b. 1990) – Singaporean man of Javanese descent whose ID card was posted at Language Log. (Thanks to Nancy F. for this one!)
- Bird Segle Mcguire (1865-1930) – U.S. Delegate and representative from Oklahoma.
- Bourke Blakemore Hickenlooper (1896-1971) – U.S. Senator from Iowa. (Previously the Governor of Iowa.)
- Brazilla Carroll Reece (1889-1961) – U.S. Representative from Tennessee.
- Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse (born circa 1944) – Halliburton whistleblower.
- Burrhus Frederic “B.F.” Skinner (born in 1904) – American psychologist, author and inventor.
- Canvass White (1790-1834) – American civil engineer.
- Chamintney Stovall Thomas (born in 1899) – Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame inductee.
- Chase Going Woodhouse (1890-1984) – U.S. Representative from Connecticut.
- Cherubusco Newton (1848-1910) – U.S. Representative from Louisiana.
- Cleanth Brooks (born in 1906) – Literary critic and Yale professor.
- Cree Summer Francks (born in 1969) – Actress and musician. (Her brother is Rainbow, below.)
- Cydnor Tompkins (1810-1862) – U.S. Representative from Ohio.
- Delloreese Patricia Early (b. 1931) – American actress (stage name Della Reese).
- Devra Lee Davis (born in 1946) – Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh.
- Donelson Caffery (1835-1906) – U.S. Senator from Louisiana.
- Dunkinfield Henry Scott (born in 1854) – English paleobotanist who established the class Pteridospermeae.
- Elbridge Thomas Gerry (born in 1744) – Fifth Vice President of the United States.
- Elgin Gay Baylor (born in 1934) – NBA Hall-of-Famer who was named after the Elgin National Watch Company.
- Eliphalet Dyer (1721-1807) – U.S. Delegate from Connecticut.
- Epiphanny Prince (born in the 1980s) – Set the U.S. high school girls’ basketball record by scoring 113 points in a single game on February 1, 2006.
- Espy Van Horne (1795-1829) – U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania.
- Eudald Carbonell i Roura (born in 1953) – Spanish archaeologist, anthropologist and paleontologist.
- Falconer Madan (born in 1851) – Librarian of the Bodleian Library of Oxford University. (His granddaughter was Venetia Burney, below.)
- Felissa Rose Esposito (born in 1969) – Actress.
- Fiorello Henry LaGuardia (1882-1947) – U.S. Representative from New York. (Later the Mayor of New York.)
- Foxhall A. Parker (born 1821) – U.S. Navy officer during the American Civil War. (His father was also a Foxhall, and he had a brother named Dangerfield.)
- Ginery Twichell (1811-1883) – U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.
- Godlove Stein Orth (1817-1882) – U.S. Representative from Indiana.
- Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) – U.S. Senator from New York. (Previously a Delegate from Pennsylvania.)
- Green Berry Raum (1829-1909) – U.S. Representative from Illinois.
- Harlow Shapley (born in 1885) – American astronomer.
- Harmanus Peek (1782-1838) – U.S. Representative from New York.
- Heartsill Ragon (1885-1940) – U.S. Representative from Arkansas.
- Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael (1899-1981) – American composer, singer, actor, and band leader.
- Holiday Reinhorn (born in 1964) – fiction writer and wife of Rainn Wilson (see below).
- Hubbard Hinde Kavanaugh (born in 1802) – Methodist Episcopal bishop.
- Huw Wheldon (born in 1916) – Welsh broadcaster and Royal Television Society president. (Huw is the Welsh version of Hugh.)
- Idawalley Zorada “Ida” Lewis (1842-1911) – American lighthouse keeper.
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel (born in 1806) – English engineer who created the Great Western Railway, along with a number of steamships, bridges and tunnels.
- Ithamar Conkey Sloan (1822-1898) – U.S. Representative from Wisconsin.
- Itimous Thaddeus Valentine (born in 1926) – U.S. Representative from North Carolina.
- Jacquetta Hawkes (born in 1910) – British archaeologist and writer.
- Jagadish Chandra Bose (born in 1858) – Bengali physicist and science fiction writer.
- Jascha Heifetz (born in 1901 in Lithuania) – Violinist.
- Jawaharlal Nehru (born in 1889) – First Prime Minister of India. Served for 4 terms, from 1947 until 1964.
- Jeduthun Wilcox (1768-1838) – U.S. Representative from New Hampshire.
- Jetur Rose Riggs (1809-1869) – U.S. Representative from New Jersey.
- Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813-1878) – Scottish blacksmith who invented the pedal bicycle (circa 1840).
- Kirtland Irving Perky (1867-1939) – U.S. Senator from Idaho.
- Kittredge Haskins (1836-1916) – U.S. Representative from Vermont.
- Le Gage Pratt (1852-1911) – U.S. Representative from New Jersey.
- Lilialyce Akers (born in 1927) – first female professor at the University of Louisville.
- Loammi Baldwin (born in 1744) – Engineer, politician, and American Revolutionary War soldier.
- Loleatta Holloway (born in 1946) – American singer.
- Lystra Gretter (born in 1858) – Nurse and public health care innovator.
- Magloire Pélage (born in 1769 in Martinique) – Soldier and leader of the resistance movement against the English.
- Mamphela Aletta Ramphele (born in 1947) – South African doctor and activist.
- Mattiwilda Dobbs (born in 1925) – American opera singer.
- Marmaduke Williams (1774-1850) – U.S. Representative from North Carolina.
- Melquiades R. Martinez (born in 1946) – U.S. Senator from Florida.
- Middleton Barrow (1839-1903) – U.S. Senator from Georgia.
- Milward Lee Simpson (1897-1993) – U.S. Senator from Wyoming. (Previously the Governor of Wyoming.)
- Miquita Oliver (born in 1984) – British TV presenter and actress.
- Nanaline Holt Inman Duke (born in 1871) – Mother of Doris Duke.
- Naphtali Daggett (born in 1727) – Pastor, professor, and Yale’s second president.
- Narsworthy Hunter (c1802) – U.S. Delegate from Mississippi Territory.
- Nelleke Noordervliet (born in 1945) – Dutch novelist.
- Nunnally Hunter Johnson (born in 1897) – American filmmaker.
- Odalys García (born in 1975) – Cuban actress and singer.
- Orrice Abram Murdock, Jr. (1893-1979) – U.S. Senator from Utah. (Previously a U.S. Representative from Utah.)
- Ossian Ray (1835-1892) – U.S. Representative from New Hampshire.
- Ottorino Respighi (born in 1879) – Italian composer, musicologist and musician.
- Outerbridge Horsey (1777-1842) – U.S. Senator from Delaware. (Previously the Attorney General of Delaware.)
- Owsley Brown Frazier (born in 1935) – businessman and philanthropist.
- Pantazi Ghica (born in 1831) – Wallachian-born Romanian politician, lawyer and writer.
- Phanor Breazeale (1858-1934) – U.S. Representative from Louisiana.
- Philadelph Van Trump (1810-1874) – U.S. Representative from Ohio.
- Phyllida Law (born in 1932) – Scottish actress. Also the mother of actress Emma Thompson.
- Pierpont Edwards (1750-1826) – U.S. Delegate from Connecticut.
- Pitcairn Morrison (1795-1887) – American army officer.
- Porochista Khakpour (born in 1978) – Iranian-American writer.
- Powhatan Ellis (1790-1863) – Senator from Mississippi.
- Quirinus Kuhlmann (1651-1689) – German Baroque poet and mystic.
- Rainn Wilson (born in 1966) – actor and husband of Holiday Reinhorn (see above).
- Rainbow Sun Francks (born in 1979) – Canadian actor and songwriter. (His sister is Cree, below.)
- Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr. (1764-1825) – U.S. Senator from Ohio. (Later, the Governor of Ohio. Later still, Postmaster General.)
- Rienzi Melville Johnston (1849-1926) – U.S. Senator from Texas.
- Rousseau Owen Crump (1843-1901) – U.S. Representative from Michigan. (Previously the Mayor of West Bay City.)
- Rulon Gardner (b. 1971) – American Greco-Roman wrestler.
- Rychacviana Coffie (unknown birth year) – Miss Curaçao 2005.
- Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988) – English poet and art critic.
- Shirin Ebadi (born in 1947) – Iranian lawyer and human rights activist. First Iranian and first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2003).
- Smoloff Palace Love (born in 1826) – Soldier, teacher, and lawyer from Kentucky.
- Sobieski Ross (1828-1877) – U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania.
- Spessard Lindsey Holland (1892-1971) – U.S. Senator from Florida. (Previously the Governor of Florida.)
- Spruille Braden (born in 1894) – Diplomat and businessman with an interest in Latin America.
- Stanyarne Wilson (1860-1928) – U.S. Representative from South Carolina.
- Stevenson Magloire (born in 1963) – Haitian painter named after U.S. politician Adlai Stevenson.
- Sunshine Hillygus (born ca. 1976) – associate professor at Harvard.
- Tapping Reeve (born in 1744) – law professor, jurist and writer. Opened the first law school in the United States.
- Tench Coxe (1755-1824) – U.S. Delegate from Pennsylvania.
- Tilghman Mayfield Tucker (1802-1859) – U.S. Representative from Mississippi. (Previously the Governor of Mississippi.)
- Trevenen Huxley (born in 1889) – Huxley brother (born after Julian, but before Aldous).
- Turbutt Wright (1741-1783) – U.S. Delegate from Maryland.
- Tzovfit Grant (born in 1964) – Israeli actress and TV show host. (Her first name is sometimes spelled Tzufit.)
- Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K (born in 2003) – baby boy from Topeka, Kansas.
- Uzodinma Iweala (born 1982) – American novelist with Nigerian roots.
- Venetia Phair (née Burney, born in England in 1919) – Suggested the name for the planet Pluto when she was 11 years old. (Her grandfather was Falconer Madan, above.)
- Vespasian Warner (1842-1925) – U.S. Representative from Illinois.
- Victory Birdseye (1782-1853) – U.S. Representative from New York.
- Voltairine de Cleyre (born in 1866) – Anarchist and feminist.
- Wallingford Constantine Riegger (born in 1885) – American composer.
- Wangari Muta Maathai (born in 1940 in Kenya) – Doctor, environmental and political activist, and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Wealthy Babcock (born in 1895) – professor at the University of Kansas.
- Wentworth Miller (born in 1972) – American actor.
- Wigbolt Ripperda (born around 1535) – Governor of Haarlem (in the Netherlands) while the city was under siege by the Spanish army during the Eighty Years’ War.
- Wilmot Redd (died 1692) – one of the (female) victims of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
- Yellow Light Breen (born in the 1970s) – lawyer and senior VP of Bangor Savings Bank.
- Zadock Pratt (1790-1871) – U.S. Representative from New York.
Here are the rest of the original lists:
- Bamber, Dingle, Potto, Wyke and 5 more
- Beveridge, Craphonso, Rivers, Scientific and 6 more
- Bland, Stith, Theophylact, Zealous and 13 more
- Bluma, Oseola, Susybelle, Torquil and 8 more
- Catulle, Dusolina, Meridel, Persifor and 6 more
- Cedella, O’Brien, Smedley, Wolfdietrich and 6 more
- Delazon, Person, Rensselear, Spark, Zell and 5 more
- Epaphroditus, Orchard, Speedy, Waddy and 9 more
- Erminnie, Ghillean, Lascelles, Tahupotiki, Ruta
- Feramorz, Goyn, Trevanion, Whitehead and 12 more
- Grlenntys, Icie, Rensis, Schelto and 8 more
And here’s a more recent one you might like:
Have you encountered any unusual or rare names lately? (In the phone book? In the paper? On TV?) If so, let me know!