How popular is the baby name Jennings 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 Jennings.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Jennings


Posts that Mention the Name Jennings

A Whole Bunch of Hobarts

Garret A. Hobart

In 1896, people were thinking politics. We can see it in the baby names that saw the biggest relative increases in usage from 1895 to 1896: Hobart (744%), Hobert (488%), Bryan (481%), Jennings (344%), Bryant (271%), and Mckinley (256%).

I think most of us will recognize William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan as two of the influences here. But where did “Hobart” and “Hobert” come from?

Before I get to the answer, here’s some data on the usage of Hobart and Hobert for baby boys in America during the 1890s:

Year# Hobarts, SSA# Hoberts, SSA
189842 (rank: 281st)42 (rank: 282nd)
1897105 (rank: 148th)60 (rank: 216th)
1896135 (rank: 128th)47 (rank: 263rd)
189516 (rank: 515th)8 (rank: 829th)
18947 (rank: 907th)5 (not in top 1,000)

And here’s some (more reliable) data from the Social Security Death Index showing the same overall trend:

Year# Hobarts, SSDI# Hoberts, SSDI
1898229141
1897514243
1896770263
18958443
18944010

So where did Hobart (and Hobert) come from?

Garret Hobart, the corporate lawyer who became the Republican nominee for vice president in June of 1896. He and running mate McKinley were strong advocates of the Gold Standard, whereas Bryan was as supporter of Free Silver.

McKinley and Hobart won the election and were sworn into their respective offices in March of 1897. Unlike most vice presidents up to that point, Hobart “enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the president and was often consulted on major policy issues.”

But his term was cut short. He became ill in early 1899, his health declined as the year wore on, and he died of heart disease in November at age 55.

During his last summer, though, he and his wife Jennie had some fun with names while staying at their seaside New Jersey home, which featured an outdoor fountain:

This fountain we stocked with gold fish that grew so tame they followed us as we walked round it. One fish, with a huge gold spot on his back, we named McKinley; one with a big silver mark we named Bryan. The most gorgeous one of all whose coat, shot with crimson, white and gold looked like a uniform, we named General Miles.

What are your thoughts on Hobart as a first name? Is it usable these days?

Sources:

Babies of Silverites Named “Silver” in 1896

free silver
“Silver Lunatics”

The baby name Silver is now a regular on the SSA’s annual baby name list. But it wasn’t quite as common back in the 1890s when it suddenly debuted with an impressive 10 baby boys:

  • 1898: unlisted
  • 1897: unlisted
  • 1896: 10 baby boys named Silver [debut]
  • 1895: unlisted
  • 1894: unlisted

If we look at SSDI data we see a similar spike in the number of people named Silver in 1896:

  • 1898: 8 people named Silver
  • 1897: 6 people named Silver
  • 1896: 18 people named Silver
  • 1895: 6 people named Silver
  • 1894: 8 people named Silver

Can you guess the cause?

I’ll give you two hints. First, look what happens to the name Bryan that year:

  • 1898: 57 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1897: 97 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1896: 157 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1895: 27 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1894: 9 baby boys named Bryan

Now check out how the name Jennings peaks a year later:

  • 1898: 28 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1897: 50 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1896: 40 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1895: 9 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1894: 5 baby boys named Jennings

No doubt you’ve pieced it together: 1896 was the year William Jennings Bryan ran for president, and the central issue for Democrats that year was Free Silver.

The U.S. was in the middle of a depression, and Free Silver supporters (the “Silverites”) thought the depression could be alleviated via the coinage of silver.

“For true believers,” the Encyclopedia Britannica states, “silver became the symbol of economic justice for the mass of the American people.”

And those “true believers” were very likely the ones naming their kids Silver back in 1896.

But Bryan’s opponent, William McKinley, was able to convince voters that Free Silver was a bad thing — that the resultant inflation would harm the economy — and won the election.

What do you think of the baby name Silver?

Sources: William Jennings Bryan – Wikipedia, Free Silver – Wikipedia, Free Silver Movement | United States history | Britannica.com
Image: A down-hill movement – LOC

P.S. Want to see other money-inspired monikers? Try Legal Tender, Depression, Cash Money, Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar, Millionaire, Billionaire, Trillionaire, Free Silver, Gold Standard.