Last month’s post on Ebba Bernadotte reminded me of Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up the British throne in December of 1936.
Wallis was used mainly as a boy name until the year of the abdication, when it began to go unisex:
- 1938: 19 baby boys and 14 baby girls named Wallis
- 1937: 17 baby boys and 33 baby girls named Wallis
- 1936: 22 baby boys and 6 baby girls named Wallis
- 1935: 9 baby boys named Wallis
- 1934: 16 baby boys named Wallis
The name saw peak usage for girls in 1937, the year Wallis and Edward were married.
“Wallis” wasn’t Wallis Simpson’s birth name; she was born Bessie Wallis Warfield. Her first name came from a maternal aunt, and her middle name was passed down from her father, Teackle Wallis Warfield.
UPDATE, 4/2012: Found a 1936 Wallis! She was mentioned in the newspaper:
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Grieve have named their new-born daughter Wallis–for the only woman in modern history who rocked the throne of England.
Source: “Baby Named for Wally.” Pittsburgh Press 23 Dec. 1936: 8.