I recently discovered that Gibraltar, a 2.6-square mile British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of Spain, has its own baby name rankings!
According to the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the most popular baby names in Gibraltar in 2018 were Emma and James and in 2019 were Olivia and Ethan.
Here are all the names given to 3 or more babies in 2018 (during which a total of 402 babies were born):
Girl Names, 2018
Emma, 5 baby girls
Boy Names, 2018
James, 6 baby boys
Alexander, 5 (tie)
Ethan, 5 (tie)
Leo, 5 (tie)
Logan, 5 (tie)
Jack, 4 (five-way tie)
Lucas, 4 (five-way tie)
Michael, 4 (five-way tie)
Noah, 4 (five-way tie)
Ryan, 4 (five-way tie)
Evan, 3 (six-way tie)
Jamie, 3 (six-way tie)
Jesse, 3 (six-way tie)
Leon, 3 (six-way tie)
Theo, 3 (six-way tie)
Tiago, 3 (six-way tie)
(If you want to compare these to the equivalent rankings for England and Wales, there’s the link.)
The unique names bestowed just once in Gibraltar in 2018 include…
Girl names: Ainara, Daura, Diae, Nuria, Rharmaini
Boy names: Amitai, Cayetano, Mordechai, Shams, Tzion
And here are all the names given to 3 or more babies in 2019 (during which a total of 423 babies were born):
Girl Names, 2019
Olivia, 9 baby girls
Robyn, 4 (tie)
Sofia, 4 (tie)
Ava, 3 (four-way tie)
Celine, 3 (four-way tie)
Lily, 3 (four-way tie)
Maya, 3 (four-way tie)
Boy Names, 2019
Ethan, 6 baby boys
Jamie, 5 (tie)
Thomas, 5 (tie)
Jack, 4 (three-way tie)
Leo, 4 (three-way tie)
Oliver, 4 (three-way tie)
Dylan, 3 (eight-way tie)
George, 3 (eight-way tie)
Jacob, 3 (eight-way tie)
James, 3 (eight-way tie)
Jayden, 3 (eight-way tie)
Kian, 3 (eight-way tie)
Theo, 3 (eight-way tie)
Tyler, 3 (eight-way tie)
The unique names bestowed just once in 2019 include…
Girl names: Ilythia, Lamis, Mirtel, Sirine, Tais
Boy names: Brath, Dimitar, Haron, Levin-Lee, Theon
And I did find one more interesting thing: In May of 2017, local newspaper Panorama conducted a survey to determine “the most popular names among boys and girls aged 12” — so, kids born in or around the year 2005 — and came up with…
The sudden appearance of Tondalaya in the SSA’s baby name data in the mid-1950s had me stumped for a long time.
1955: 11 baby girls named Tondalaya
Why? Because “Tondalaya” was so suspiciously close to “Tondelayo,” the name of a character from the 1942 movie* White Cargo. The character was a mixed-race African character played by Hedy Lamarr.
But the spelling didn’t match, and the timing was way off.
Finally, years later, I happened to find the link between these two things: a photo in a 1955 issue of Jet magazine that featured an 11-year-old girl named Tondalaya. Here’s what the caption said:
Paroled after five years imprisonment for disobeying Army orders while a lieutenant in Korea, Leon A. Gilbert is reunited with his wife, Kay, son Leon, and daughter Tondalaya at Los Angeles’ International Airport.
(Further research revealed that her name was actually spelled “Tondalayo.”)
So that solved the mystery of the name, but…who was Leon Gilbert?
Up until mid-1950, he was a decorated WWII veteran serving with the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea.
But on July 31, he refused an order and was arrested on the spot.
Seems like an appropriate outcome for a disobedient soldier during wartime…until you consider that the 24th was an all-black unit, that the 24th’s commanders were all white, and that this particular order amounted to a multi-man suicide mission. (The order would have had Gilbert leading about a dozen men back to a location that had been abandoned due to heavy enemy fire.)
Leon Gilbert was court-martialed. At the trial, which lasted about four hours, no witnesses were called on Gilbert’s behalf, medical reports indicating that he suffered from acute stress reaction were ignored, and the defense attorney didn’t bother to make a closing statement. Leon Gilbert was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.
Back home, the case was being followed closely by the press — particularly by the black press. The sentence angered many Americans, and “petitions calling for [Gilbert’s] freedom were sent to Washington from around the country.”
An investigation carried out by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall found that Gilbert was one of “many blacks and no white troops who had been charged with misconduct in the presence of the enemy.” He also said that “[i]t seems apparent that some of [the black soldiers] are being made scapegoats for the failures of higher personnel.”
In late November, President Harry Truman commuted the death sentence to 20 years in prison.
Ultimately — as mentioned in the photo caption — Leon Gilbert served five years in a military prison before he was released on parole in 1955.
*The movie was based on play of the same name from the 1920s. In the play, the character’s name was spelled “Tondeleyo.” The play was based on the novel Hell’s Playground (1912) by Ida Vera Simonton, but Tondeleyo did not appear in the novel. Playwright Leon Gordon created (and named) Tondeleyo by combining the attributes/histories of two of the book’s female characters, Ndio and Elinda.