How popular is the baby name Marjorie 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 Marjorie.
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In 1960, the name Nedenia showed up in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time:
1960: 9 baby girls named Nedenia [debut]
Where did it come from?
Actress and socialite Dina Merrill, whose real name was Nedenia Hutton.
Often compared to Grace Kelly. Merrill was most famous in the late ’50s and early ’60s. In 1960 specifically, she could be seen in the movies The Sundowners and BUtterfield 8. (When Merrill appeared on the game show What’s My Line? in August of 1960, one of the panelists remarked: “I must say that Miss Merrill has had more publicity than I think any actress in America in the course of the last year.”)
I think a more precise explanation, though, is “She Has Too Much Money” — an article with an eye-catching title that ran in Parade (the nationally distributed Sunday newspaper magazine) in March of 1959. It primarily focused on Dina’s wealth, but divulged Dina’s full legal name at the time, Nedenia Hutton Rumbough, in the second paragraph.
Nedenia Hutton was born in 1923 to Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and stockbroker Edward Francis Hutton. Her birth name was an elaboration of her father’s nickname, Ned. (Her stage surname, Merrill, was borrowed from another well-known stockbroker: Charles E. Merrill.)
And here are the late bloomers — names that were part of the 2019 game, but didn’t rise/debut until 2020.
Donna increased by 20%.
Nipsey debuted with 7 baby boys.
Luce returned to the data with 7 baby girls.
Maleficent returned to the data with 5 baby girls.
Miren returned to the data with 5 baby girls.
Finally, regarding our theories about how Covid might have affected 2020’s names…I didn’t notice anything definitive. For instance, both Gheba and Skizzo mentioned “prestige” names (e.g., King, Legend, Major, Messiah and Royal). What I found was that some went up, some went down. Same with the modern virtue names (e.g., Courage, Honor, Brave, Bravery, Freedom).
What are your thoughts on these results? Which name surprised you the most?
[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated. Others were influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. In all cases, I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence.]
The name Neysa first popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 1917. It began seeing regular usage during the 1920s:
1924: 10 baby girls named Neysa
1923: 8 baby girls named Neysa
1922: 12 baby girls named Neysa
1921: 7 baby girls named Neysa
1918: 9 baby girls named Neysa
1917: 9 baby girls named Neysa [debut]
What put this name on the map?
Illustrator Neysa McMein, whose creations — typically drawings of pretty young women — were featured prominently in magazines and advertisements during the 1920s and 1930s. For instance, Neysa drew every single McCall’s magazine cover from 1923 to 1937, 62 Saturday Evening Post covers from 1916 to 1939, and gave a face to Betty Crocker in 1936.
Beyond her art, Neysa McMein was also a well-known personality of the Roaring Twenties. She was “mentioned or quoted in magazine articles, fiction, and in advertisements with some regularity.” According to theater director George Abbott, “every taxi-cab driver, every salesgirl, every reader of columns, knew about the fabulous Neysa.”
Interestingly, though, she didn’t start out as a Neysa. She was born a Marjorie.
In 1911, after growing up in Illinois and graduating from art school in Chicago, she moved to New York City to both launch her career and forge a new identity — which included adopting a new name.
Though she told the press that “Neysa” had been suggested by a numerologist, she told her husband a different story: that “Neysa” was the name of an Arabian filly she’d encountered while visiting cartoonist/horse breeder Homer Davenport in New Jersey.
Regardless of the source, she did say that she believed the name Neysa had more “commercial value” than the name Marjorie.
What are your thoughts on the name Neysa? Would you use it?
The rare baby name Hildy — which can be traced back to the Germanic name element hild, meaning “battle” — saw successive increases in usage in 1955, 1956, and 1957:
1959: 13 baby girls named Hildy
1958: 19 baby girls named Hildy
1957: 36 baby girls named Hildy [peak popularity]
1956: 24 baby girls named Hildy
1955: 15 baby girls named Hildy
1954: 9 baby girls named Hildy
What caused all this heightened interest in the name Hildy?
A little girl named Hildy who was at the center of “the most controversial and mass-mediated adoption struggle of the 1950s.”
She was born in Boston on February 23, 1951, to a 21-year-old unmarried Roman Catholic woman named Marjorie McCoy — a nursing student who’d had a romance with an intern at the Children’s Hospital.
Before the birth, Marjorie had arranged (through her family physician) for the baby to be privately adopted. So, in early March, when she was ten days old, the baby was taken home by Melvin and Frances Ellis, a “childless Jewish couple from nearby Brookline” who had paid Marjorie’s medical bills as part of a prenatal adoption agreement.
The Ellises named their new baby Hildy Carol Ellis.
Six weeks later, Marjorie learned that the Ellises were Jewish.
She didn’t want the baby back, but she also didn’t want the baby placed with a non-Catholic family. So she asked the couple to hand the child over to the Catholic Charitable Bureau. When the Ellises refused, Marjorie filed suit.
The legal battle lasted for four years, with Massachusetts courts continually siding with Marjorie (because state adoption law at the time required that, “where practicable, a child be placed with foster parents of the same religious faith as the mother”). On February 14, 1955, the highest court in the commonwealth handed down the final ruling — in Marjorie’s favor, yet again.
Now out of appeals, the Ellises promised to raise Hildy as a Catholic. The court rejected their plea and ordered them to surrender the child by June 30th.
The Ellises, unwilling to surrender Hildy, fled from Massachusetts in April. When that happened, “Hildy’s custody battle quickly became national news, captivating a large audience.”
The fugitive family “lived secretly in no less than six places” while on the run. The media was still able to keep tabs on them, though. For instance, in January of 1956, a recent photo of Hildy ran in newspapers nationwide (but her location was not disclosed).
The Ellises eventually settled in Miami, Florida — this is where Massachusetts discovered them in March of 1957. The state requested that Melvin Ellis be extradited immediately in order to face kidnapping charges.
In May, Florida governor LeRoy Collins eloquently denied the request. He said, in part:
It is clear to me that the criminal proceedings against Mr. and Mrs. Ellis are synthetic. No crime of kidnapping in a proper sense is involved.
It has been argued that the natural mother has the right to have Hildy reared in the environment of her own faith. This is a right I respect, but it must yield to more fundamental rights. The great and good God of all of us, regardless of faith, grants to every child to be born first the right to be wanted, and secondly the right to be loved. Hildy’s mother has denied both of these rights to her.
It was the Ellises in truth and in fact who have been the persons through whom God has assured to Hildy these first two rights as one of His children. It was the Ellises who wanted Hildy to be born. It was they who anxiously awaited her birth with tender emotions of excitement, anticipating fulfillment of the joys and obligations of parenthood. It was the Ellises also who have given of themselves to Hildy, as only parents can understand, thereby fulfilling Hildy’s right to be loved.
With no feeling against the natural mother, except that of pity and compassion; with no antagonism toward our great sister State of Massachusetts; I further deny this application based upon the equities involved.
In July, a Dade County judge formally approved the adoption under Florida law.
“The child shall be hereafter known as Hildy Ellis,” the judge decreed.
“Center of Custody Battle.” Des Moines Register 28 Jan. 1956: 1.
On the evening of June 11, a baby boy was born to Jennifer and Danny Cairns of Glasgow, Scotland. The baby was named Finn Cairns.
A couple of hours later, Jennifer’s mom began calling family members to tell them about the baby. When she got to her brother John — who completes the crossword in the Daily Record every day — she learned that both “Finn” and “Cairns” had been answers in the crossword that day.
It’s just amazing and the day it happened, I will never forget.
When my sister Marjorie told me his name, I thought ‘wait a minute, that was in the crossword’ so found it and there it was.
I thought ‘this is not real!’ and kept it to pass on to my mother.
And it’s even more strange because Finn was born on the 11th, and 11 is my lucky number.
He went on to say that the coincidence was “out of this world!”
Mom Jennifer likewise said that this was one of the most “absolutely bizarre coincidences” of her life.