What turned Wallis into a girl name in the 1930s?

American socialite/British royal Wallis Simpson (1896-1986)
Wallis Simpson

The name Wallis had only ever appeared in the U.S. baby name data as a boy name until 1936, when it suddenly popped up as a girl name. The following year, usage for baby girls was nearly double the usage for baby boys:

Boys named WallisGirls named Wallis
*Debut, †Peak usage

Here’s a visual:

Usage of the baby name Wallis in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the baby name Wallis


Because, in December of 1936, Britain’s King Edward VIII — who had ascended to the throne earlier the same year, in January — abdicated in order to marry twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson.

Here’s a newspaper account of one of the baby girls named Wallis in 1936:

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.

Wallis and Edward were married in June of 1937. Known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, they remained together until Edward’s death in 1972.

Wallis Simpson’s first name at birth wasn’t Wallis, but Bessie. She was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896, and called “Bessie Wallis” in her youth. The first name “Bessie” honored her mother’s elder sister, while the middle name “Wallis” honored her father, Teackle Wallis Warfield (who was known as “Wallis”). The surname Simpson came from her second husband.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Wallis? Do you prefer it as a boy name, or as a girl name?


P.S. Wallis Simpson reminds me of Ebba Bernadotte

6 thoughts on “What turned Wallis into a girl name in the 1930s?

  1. Our baby girl is a Wallis. It’s gotten mixed reviews, kind of love it or hate it. But we love it. It’s uncommon without being weird.

  2. My daughter , born in 1992, is called Wallis . I think it is the best name ever for a girl.

  3. Wallis reminds me of the shop Wallis and Wallis and Gromit can’t see how it ever caught on as a girl’s name and never really liked it on men either for me it’s a surname I mean how many Selfridges or Perkins do you meet ?

  4. I really love the name Wallis for a girl…I’d only ever heard of Wallis Simpson, so to hear the you’ve used it more recently Amanda is reassuring. It’s also my Mum’s maiden name, so I kind of like the family connection. The other funny thing is my great-great-grandmother’s name was Bessie – Wallis Simpson’s real name. I kind of hope it doesn’t catch on in the next few years, as husband and I don’t plan to have a little one for a few years!

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