Independent baby name blog & directory, est. 2006.
How popular is the baby name Matilda in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Matilda and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Matilda.
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The Edinburgh Seven was a group of seven women — Sophia Jex-Blake, Edith Pechey, Isabel Thorne, Emily Bovell, Helen Evans, Matilda Chaplin, and Mary Anderson — who were the first women to matriculate at any British university.
They began studying medicine at University of Edinburgh in 1869, but they faced a great deal of discrimination, including a riot during which they were pelted with mud.
Ultimately, they were not allowed to graduate in Scotland. (Five of the seven did go on to earn MD’s abroad — three in Paris, two in Bern.) It wasn’t until 1892 that Scottish universities finally began to admit female students.
Elsa and Eevi replace Enni and Amanda in the girls’ top 10, and Daniel replaces Aleksi in the boys’ top 10. Venla, the new #1 name, rose from 7th place in 2014.
While about 85% of the babies accounted for were born to Finnish speakers, another 6% were born to Swedish speakers. Here are Finland’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names among Swedish speakers specifically:
Tied with Emilia and Edith were Olivia, Matilda and Minea; tied with Axel was Anton. Saga, the #2 girl name, ranked 4th in Sweden itself last year.
The Finnish Names Act (Nimilaki) allows babies to receive a maximum of three given names. The names must conform to Finnish orthography, reflect the correct gender, and not be “inappropriate” in any way.
Henry I, who ruled England from 1100 to 1135, was one of the sons of William the Conqueror, England’s first Norman king.
About two months after Henry was crowned king (on the interesting date 11/11/1100) he married one of the daughters of Malcolm III of Scotland and his Anglo-Saxon wife, Margaret.
Malcolm and Margaret’s daughter had been baptized with the Anglo-Saxon name Eadgyth [Edith], but when she was crowned Queen of England, she used the name Matilda.
From then on, she was known as either Matilda or Maud.
Why the name change?
Because “Matilda” was a name favored by the Normans. As historian Robert Bartlett put it, “A lot of people changed their names [following the Norman conquest] because they wanted to pass in polite society — they didn’t want to be mistaken for a peasant, marked out with an Anglo-Saxon name.”
In fact, Norman nobles liked to mock the couple by calling them Godric and Godiva, both of which are Anglo-Saxon names. “Godric and Godiva were the Jack and Jill of their period.”
Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames. London: Henry Frowde, 1901.
Sissieretta Jones was a famous African-American soprano who performed both nationally and internationally from the late 1880s to the mid-1910s.
She began her career as an opera singer, earning the nickname “Black Patti” in reference to Italian opera singer Adelina Patti. (She was not a fan of the nickname.)
She sang for presidents and royalty, but racism prevented her from performing in most American concert halls. So in the mid-1890s she switched over to popular music, headlining the successful traveling show the “Black Patti Troubadours.”
Sissieretta’s unique name — originally her middle name (her first name was Matilda) — appears to be a blend of Sissie and the name of her mother, Henrietta.
The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.
I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:
1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.
And now, on to the names…
A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.
Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah
I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).