Baby name story: Aorangi

MV Aorangi
MV Aorangi

The MV Aorangi was a passenger ship that regularly traveled back and forth between Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, Canada, from the 1920s to the 1950s.

In July of 1934, while the ship was en route to Canada, the wife of passenger William “Billy” Townsend (a Canadian professional boxer) gave birth to a baby girl.

The baby was named Aorangi, after the ship.

(The ship was named after New Zealand’s highest peak, called “Aoraki” by South Island Maori and “Aorangi” by North Island Maori.)


Another tennis player named after Martina Navratilova

Tennis player Martina Navratilova (in 1980)
Martina Navratilova

About a decade ago, I wrote a post about how tennis great Martina Hingis (b. 1980) was named after tennis legend Martina Navratilova (b. 1956).

Recently, I learned that yet another professional tennis player — Martina Trevisan, who was born in Italy in 1993 — was also named for Navratilova.

At a post-match press conference held during the French Open a couple of months ago, Martina Trevisan was asked about her name. She responded (about a third of the way though this video):

“My mom gave me that name and for sure it’s for Navratilova. And I’m not feeling pressure for the name. I mean, I like [it] also.”

Currently, Trevisan is ranked #1 in Italy and #24 in the world according to the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).


Baby name story: Poppet

Portrait of Poppet (cropped), painted circa 1935 by Augustus John.
Poppet John

Welsh painter Augustus John and his second wife, Dorothy (called “Dorelia”), welcomed a daughter in 1912.

They’d planned to name the baby Elizabeth Anne, but they ended up calling her Poppet. (The British English term poppet is used to refer to “a person, especially a child, that you like or love.”)

Here’s how Poppet’s older bother Romilly (b. 1906) recalled the naming process:

I remember a grand discussion in the walled-in summer-house about what she should be called — a discussion which has been going on ever since. Elizabeth Anne was the provisional choice on that occasion, but it satisfied nobody, and the baby was finally registered as ‘one female child’, pending the discovery of the ideal name. Meanwhile [half-brother] Caspar, contemplating her one day, chanced to remark: ‘What a little poppet it is!’ — and Poppet she was called from that day forward. A real name was still intended to be found for her, but we had not reckoned with the force of habit, and, in spite of intermittent consultation, and at least one attempt to revert to the original suggestion, Anne, she has continued [to be called] Poppet to this day.

I can’t find Poppet’s birth registration online, but “Poppet” is indeed the name used legally in the Marriage Registration Index (three times: 1931, 1940, and 1952) and the the Death Registration Index (1997).

Poppet’s third and final marriage was to dutch artist Willem Pol, making fashion model Talitha Pol her step-daughter. After Talitha’s death in 1971, Poppet and Willem raised Talita’s son Tara at their home in the south of France.


P.S. Caspar John (b. 1903) ended up becoming the head of the Royal Navy in the early 1960s.

Baby name story: Leicester


New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, recently welcomed a player named Leicester Fainga’anuku. (His first name is pronounced LEH-stir, just like “Lester.”)

Fainga’anuku was born in Tonga and grew up in New Zealand, but was named after a city in England.


Because, right around the time he was born, his father — a member of Tonga’s national rugby team — was abroad in England, playing in the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Specifically, Tonga was playing a match against Italy [vid] and unexpectedly won. As Leicester Fainga’anuku put it:

It was Leicester Stadium. They won by a dropped goal, three points and I think they were partying hard.


Image by Hanson Lu from Unsplash

Baby name story: MacKinnon

Avalanche player Nate MacKinnon (#29) hoisting the Stanley Cup during the victory parade in Denver (Jun. 30, 2022).
Nathan MacKinnon hoisting the Stanley Cup

I took a few hours off yesterday to check out the Stanley Cup victory parade in downtown Denver. (The photo above was taken by my brother-in-law; the one below was taken by me.)

Later on that day, while reading a recap of the event, I happened to learn about a baby boy named for Colorado Avalanche player Nate MacKinnon:

Nikki Lyons brought her baby — aptly named MacKinnon for the star Avalanche center.

“We love Nathan MacKinnon and everything he stands for because he took less for the team,” Lyons said.

Taking “less for the team” refers to the fact that NHL teams have salary caps, and that MacKinnon has been willing to settle for less than he’s worth in order to help the Avs attain/retain other talented players (and thereby have a better shot at winning).

Here’s a photo of the Lyons family.

Further reading led me to a second baby boy — born just a few days ago in Centennial to parents Christy and Will Lowry — named Gabriel after Avalanche team captain Gabriel Landeskog (from Sweden).

Avalanche players Nate MacKinnon (#29) and Erik Johnson (#6) with the Stanley Cup during the victory parade in Denver (Jun. 30, 2022).
Nathan MacKinnon & Erik Johnson with the Stanley Cup