How popular is the baby name Samson in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Samson and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Samson.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Samson

Number of Babies Named Samson

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Samson

The Baby Name Saford, a Hillbilly One-Hit Wonder

In 1941, Saford debuted on the U.S. baby name charts with 11 baby boys — enough to make it the top boy name debut of the year.

Clayton and Saford Hall in in 1940
Clayton and Saford Hall in 1940
Never to be seen on the list again, Saford was also the top one-hit wonder name of 1941, and it’s tied for 9th on the list of most popular one-hit wonder boy names of all time.

So what’s the story behind this mysterious name?

The state-by-state data offers a big clue about the origin of Saford:

  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: 11 baby boys named Saford
    • 9 born in Virginia specifically
  • 1940: unlisted

The name Saford was inspired by Saford Hall, a member of the pre-bluegrass musical duo the Hall Twins. The other member was Saford’s identical twin brother, Clayton. Saford played the fiddle, Clayton played the banjo, and both boys could sing.

Clayton and Saford were born in rural Patrick County, Virginia, in 1919. They were the last of 10 children. Their older siblings were named Lee, Roxie, Thamon, Mack, Romie, Samson, Simon and Asa.

Ralph Berrier, Jr. — a journalist who happens to be Clayton’s grandson — wrote about the twins in his book If Trouble Don’t Kill Me. Here’s how he describes them on his website (which also includes recordings of several performances from the early ’40s):

The Hall twins rose from mountain-bred poverty to pickin’ and yodelin’ all over the airwaves of the South in the 1930s and 1940s, opening shows for the Carter Family, Roy Rogers, the Sons of the Pioneers, and even playing the most coveted stage of all: the Grand Ole Opry.

They played the Grand Ole Opry twice, in 1941 and in 1942, as part of Roy Hall and His Blue Ridge Entertainers. (They weren’t related to Roy.)

This is exactly when we see the unusual name Saford pop up on the baby name charts for the first and only time. I’ve even found a Virginia baby named Saford Clayton, though he wasn’t born until 1944.

The name Clayton was already being given to hundreds of U.S. babies per year in the early ’40s, but usage does seem to rise in both Virginia and North Carolina in 1942.

Just as their musical careers were beginning to take off, though, the brothers were drafted. Saford was sent to North Africa and Europe, and Clayton was sent to the South Pacific.

The Hall twins survived WWII, and they continued playing music after returning to the States, but they were never able to achieve the same level of musical success. Saford passed away in 1999, Clayton in 2003.

Sources:


Male Names in the Domesday Book

Male Names in the Domesday Book

I listed all the female names in the Domesday Book a while back, so today I thought I’d complete the project by listing all the male names.

The male names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (For the record, I overlooked entries in which one person’s name was used to refer to another person, e.g., “Aelfric’s uncle.”)

The most-mentioned name within each letter group is in bold.

If you make it all the way to the bottom, your reward is a top ten list. :)

A

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D

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E

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F

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G

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H

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And now it’s time for the…

Top Ten Male Names

Which male were mentioned most often in the Domesday book? The #1 name was William, followed by Robert and Ralph:

1. William (166)
2. Robert (127)
3. Ralph (124)
4. Aelfric (88)
5. Alwin (76)
5. Hugh (76)
7. Roger (73)
8. Godwin (72)
9. Walter (64)
10. Godric (59)

Though the names in the book aren’t necessarily representative of name usage in England overall, it does make sense than William took the top spot. The Domesday Book was created a couple of decades after the Norman Invasion, at a time when the name William was very fashionable, thanks to William the Conqueror.

Baby Names No Longer Needed – Ione, Joye, Miles, Samson

We helped seven readers brainstorm for baby names in August of 2009.

So far, I’ve heard back from three of those seven. Kendra picked Joye, Kim selected Miles, and Estelle chose Samson, Surya, Ione and Vela.

I have yet to hear from Tiffany, Kelsey, Claudia and Angela.

Baby Name Needed – Name for Luke and Zeke’s Sibling

A reader named Bethany has two boys, Luke and Zeke (full name Ezekiel, but he always goes by Zeke). She’s expecting a baby in August, and she’d like some help coming up with boy and girl names. Here are the names she’s currently considering:

Boy names: Hudson, Zane, Abe, Jed

  • “Our favorite right now is Hudson for a boy, mostly because my husband’s name is Richard (“son of Richard”) and also because of the great old Christian man, Hudson Taylor. Our only concern is: Will this soon become a girls name?”
  • “We have also toyed around with Zane, but fear “inZane” jokes–and also, is it too similar to Zeke? Luke, Zeke, and Zane?”
  • “Is Abe just too much? Luke, Zeke, and Abe? Does it roll off the tongue weird?”
  • “And Jed–too hill-billy? Luke, Zeke, and Jed?”
  • A boy name doesn’t need to end with a k-sound, “yet we don’t want the third boy (if it’s a boy) to feel like the weirdo if he has too different of a name.”
  • They want “a manly third name if it’s a boy.” Nothing that could be mistaken for a girl’s name.

Girl Names: Emmie, Ellie

  • “For girls, we love Emmie and Ellie, but how common are those? Emma and Emily are list toppers, but how many Emmies are there?”

Bethany also mentions: “We are Christians, and although we don’t care if the name is straight from the Bible, it would be nice if it did have a good strong meaning.”

Here are some thoughts I had about the current favorites:

Hudson – I think Hudson is a great choice. It’s a good name, it’s masculine (I don’t think it’ll become a girl name anytime soon), the definition is perfect, and the association with Hudson Taylor is both meaningful and inspiring. It works on many levels.

Zane – My feeling is that it’s too close to Zeke.

Abe – Would it be nickname for Abraham? If so, I like this one. I don’t think “Luke, Zeke, and Abe” sounds weird at all.

Jed – It does sound slightly hillbilly to me, but not as full-on hillbilly as names like Jethro and Cletus.

Emmie – It’s not common as a given name–it hasn’t ranked in decades–but it’s used as a nickname for both Emily and Emma. So it hasn’t dropped off the radar entirely.

Ellie – I like Ellie, but I think it could be a lot more meaningful if it were a nickname for Elizabeth (more on this below).

Here are some other ideas, plus potential nicknames and associations:

Boy names Girl names
Asher
Boaz (Bo)
Eric (Eric Liddell)
Gideon
Isaac (Ike)
Jacob (Jake)
Jude
Lazarus
Malachi
Matthias
Micah (Mike)
Michael (Mike)
Moses (Mo)
Seth
Samson (Sam)
Simeon
Abigail (Abbie)
Amy (Amy Carmichael)
Elizabeth (Ellie, Liz, Betty, etc.)
Cornelia (Corrie; Corrie ten Boom)
Charlotte (Lottie; Lottie Moon)
Chloe
Grace/Gracie
Ida (Ida Scudder)
Judith (Judy)
Lillian (Lillie; Lillian Trasher)
Mara
Phoebe
Rebecca (Becky)
Sarah (Sadie)
Sela
Tabitha (Tabby)

I think my favorite is Elizabeth. It’s biblical, it has an element in common with Bethany (reminding me of the Hudson/Richard connection), and it allows for not only the nickname Ellie but a number of other nicknames as well. (Liz might sound cute with Luke and Zeke; Betty could be used in tribute to Betty Greene.)

Of all the names above, which do you like best with Luke and Zeke? What other boy and girl names would you recommend to Bethany?

UPDATE – The baby is here! To learn the gender and the name, scroll down to the last comment.

Baby Name Needed – Middle Name for Henry

A reader named Rebecca needs help finding a middle name to go with Henry:

We are Jewish and had picked the name Greyson but my husband now thinks that is too “waspy” sounding. Whatever name we pick can’t start with a vowel. We love names that are old sounding — would love something like Simon but we can’t use that name.

Yup, many surname-names — especially those that are patronymic (e.g. Anderson), occupational (Tucker) or locational (Whitaker) — tend to rate pretty high on the WASPiness scale. :) Luckily, they’re also easy to avoid.

Here are some potential middles I came up with:

Benjamin
Charles
Clarence
David
Felix
Gideon
Graham
Jabez
Jasper
Jeremiah
Jonah
Jubal
Laban
Lemuel
Levi
Mattan
Morris
Nathan
Nathaniel
Philip
Samson
Samuel
Saul
Seth
Solomon
Tobiah
Walter

Do you guys like any of the above with Henry? What other suggestions would you offer Rebecca?