Independent baby name blog & directory, est. 2006.
How popular is the baby name Richard in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Richard and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Richard.
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Looking for a surname-inspired baby name with a connection to Catholicism?
Here are more than 200 options, most of which come from Catholic Englishmen martyred during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Because the goal was to include as many realistic baby names as possible, I interpreted “surname” and “saint” liberally in some cases. Xavier is not technically a surname, for instance, and many of the folks below are not yet full-fledged saints.
The hyperlinked names will take you to popularity graphs.
The name Tootie appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the first and only time in 1958:
1958: 5 baby girls named Tootie [debut]
What gave the usage of Tootie a boost that year?
My guess is 13-year-old Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens of Washington, D.C., whose picture ran in the newspapers in August of 1958. (I couldn’t find a non-watermarked copy, unfortunately, so this will have to do.)
Why was her picture in the papers?
Because she’d just received “a letter from the top of the world” — the North Pole. The letter came from a family friend by the name of Richard F. Dobbins, who was at that time serving as medical officer aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, which had just made the very first undersea transit of the Arctic ice cap.
What do you think of the name Tootie — does it work on its own, or is it better as a nickname?
The baby name Caldonia was on the U.S. charts for most of the first half of the 20th century, but there was a curious uptick in usage in 1945:
1948: 7 baby girls named Caldonia
1947: 7 baby girls named Caldonia
1946: 10 baby girls named Caldonia
1945: 23 baby girls named Caldonia
1943: 11 baby girls named Caldonia
1942: 12 baby girls named Caldonia
This uptick corresponds to the release of a song that played a part in rock and roll history in two different ways.
That song was “Caldonia” (1945) by Louis Jordan, one of the most successful African-American bandleaders of his day. It’s an up-tempo blues (or “jump blues”) song about a woman named Caldonia:
Walkin’ with my baby she’s got great big feet
She’s long, lean, and lanky and ain’t had nothing to eat
But she’s my baby and I love her just the same
Crazy ’bout that woman cause Caldonia is her name
The song reached #1 on the Race Records chart (which tracked music by and for an African-American audience) and peaked at #6 on the pop chart.
Here’s video footage of Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five performing “Caldonia” in a short musical film (a “soundie”) made the same year:
The song was covered by many other artists, including Erskine Hawkins. Hawkins’ version is notable because a reviewer in Billboard described it as “rock and roll music”:
The phrase “rock and roll” had been around for decades, but this might be the first time it was ever used in print to describe a style of music.
Jordan’s song also made a big impact on rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, who said that “Caldonia” was the first non-gospel song he ever learned. The character of Caldonia even seems to be “the mother of Long Tall Sally, Miss Molly, Miss Ann, Jenny and especially Lucille, the least cooperative and most desired of Little Richard’s musical sweethearts.”
So now let’s get back to the name. Where does Caldonia come from?
It’s hard to know where Jordan discovered it. The name had been featured in African-American music at least once before, in “Caldonia Blues” (1924) by blues singer Sippie Wallace, and it had also been in use (though not very common) in the Southern states since the mid-19th century.
My best guess is that Caldonia is based on Caledonia (kal-eh-DŌN-yah), the Roman word for the region that is now Scotland, because the words are so similar.
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
Speaking of names in Boston Graveyards…I recently discovered a cool pair of books containing old Boston birth records from 1630 (the year Boston was founded) to just beyond 1800.
The records aren’t perfect/complete, but they’re good enough to determine the top names from year to year. So here’s an overview of the top 3 baby names per gender from 1640 to 1740 in 20-year increments:
(50 babies accounted for; total Boston population 1,200.)
Girl Names, 1640
Boy Names, 1640
1. Elizabeth (8)
2. Hannah & Mary (4 ea.)
3. Sarah (2)
1. John (7)
2. Samuel (4)
3. Deliverance, Elisha, Jonathan & Thomas (2 ea.)
(135 babies accounted for; total Boston population 3,000.)
Girl Names, 1660
Boy Names, 1660
1. Elizabeth & Sarah (12 ea.)
2. Mary (11)
3. Hannah (8)
1. John (15)
2. Joseph, Thomas & William (4 ea.)
3. Edward, Richard, Samuel & Timothy (3 ea.)
(174 babies accounted for; total Boston population 4,500.)
Girl Names, 1680
Boy Names, 1680
1. Elizabeth (17)
2. Mary (14)
3. Sarah (12)
1. John (21)
2. William (8)
3. Thomas (7)
(219 babies accounted for; total Boston population 6,700.)
Girl Names, 1700
Boy Names, 1700
1. Mary (23)
2. Elizabeth (18)
3. Ann, Sarah & Susanna (8 ea.)
1. John (31)
2. Thomas (15)
3. Benjamin, Joseph, Samuel & William (9 ea.)
(282 babies accounted for; total Boston population 11,000.)
Girl Names, 1720
Boy Names, 1720
1. Mary (31)
2. Elizabeth (26)
3. Sarah (17)
1. John (23)
2. William (18)
3. Samuel (17)
(158 babies accounted for; total Boston population 17,000.)
Girl Names, 1740
Boy Names, 1740
1. Mary (12)
2. Elizabeth (10)
3. Sarah (9)
1. John (14)
2. Joseph (11)
3. Samuel, Thomas & William (9 ea.)
Isn’t it interesting how Mary overtook Elizabeth as the #1 name for girls? The switch happened in the 1680s; Mary had already pulled ahead of Elizabeth by 1690.
The rare names were even more interesting (as usual!) so that’s what I’ll be posting about for the rest of the week, starting with a big list of them tomorrow…