How popular is the baby name Louvima in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Louvima and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Louvima.
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While putting together Monday’s post on Louvima, I found a few other interesting names in Notes & Queries, so I thought I’d do a follow-up post.
Mr. Cuthbert Bede, the person who started the N&Q conversation on Louvima, actually had more to say about unusual names. Here’s the rest of his letter:
It may be remembered that Sydney Smith invented a new name, Saba, for his daughter (‘Memoirs,’ vol. i p. 22). I once invented a name, Mareli, which was intended as an amalgam of the names Mary Elizabeth. I did this for the purposes of a little story, in which the father of the baby girl has asked two wealthy maiden aunts to be the two godmothers; and he proposes to call the baby Mary Elizabeth; after the respective Christian names of the two aunts. Miss Mary Ricketts consents to this, and promises to give her godchild a handsome present. Miss Elizabeth Meagrim will do the same, provided that the baby is named Elizabeth Mary instead of Mary Elizabeth. Miss Ricketts will no yield; and at the last the father finds a way out of the difficulty by inventing the amalgam Mareli, with which combination the two aunts are satisfied. This little tale was published in a six-shilling volume, ‘The Curate of Cranston, with other Prose and Verse,’ by Cuthbert Bede (Saunders, Otley & Co., 1862). In the obituary of the Times, April 2, 1870, appeared the following;–
“On the 30th ult. at Eastbourne Priory, near Midhurst, Mary Elizabeth (Mareli), third daughter of Francis and Martha Tallant, in her ninth year.”
I conclude that the parents had read my story, and called their child Mareli as a pet name.
The next month, two responses were printed. One was from J. M. Cowper:
Cuthbert Bede’s note on this name reminds me of similar Christian names I have met with while preparing the registers of St. Alphage, Canterbury, for the press. In 1706 Louina Backer was baptized, where probably u=v. If so the name is Lovina. In 1730 Lovevina Cooper was christened, and in 1769 I find a Levina Cramp. Possibly the whole of these may be variants of Lavinia. If not, the first and second go far to prove that Sir Francis Knollys has narrowly escaped “appropriating” an invention of the last century.
The other was from E. Venables:
“Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.” If Cuthbert Bede coined the name Mareli for one of his fictitious heroines, a very similar name was coined for a real person long before his facile and amusing pen began to be exercised. A lady well known to visitors of Ventnor thirty or forty years ago, the wife of Rev. J. Noble Coleman, incumbent of St. Catherine’s Church, bore the name “Marella,” which was evidently formed in the same way by the combination of portions of two Christian names. I can mention another example. When dining, five-and-thirty years back, wich that excellent archaeologist and accurate editor the late H. T. Riley, I met a young lady who, to my surprise, answered to the name “Marmary.” Asking my host whether I had heard the name aright, he told me that the young lady had been so called after two godmothers, one of whom was named Martha, and the other Mary, her own name combining the two.
Here’s a little more information on Saba: She was born in 1802 and her father, Sydney Smith, was a well-known clergyman and writer. According to a biography of Sydney Smith, Saba was a place-name picked out of the Bible (Psalm 72:10). The name “was bestowed on her in obedience to her father’s conviction that, where parents were constrained to give their child so indistinctive a surname as Smith, they ought to counterbalance it with a Christian name more original and vivacious.”
Bede, Cuthbert. “Louvima, a New Christian Name.” Notes & Queries 7 Jul. 1888: 6.
Cowper, J. M. “Louvima, a New Christian Name.” Notes & Queries 4 Aug. 1888: 97.
Russell, George W. E. Sydney Smith. London: Macmillan, 1905.
Venables, E. “Louvima, a New Christian Name.” 4 Aug. 1888: 97-98.
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.