Where did the baby name Thurley come from in 1911?

Thurley Ruxton
Thurley Ruxton

In 1911, the baby name Thurley debuted in the U.S. baby name data. It was the top female name debut of 1911, in fact.

  • 1913: 8 baby girls named Thurley
  • 1912: 14 baby girls named Thurley
  • 1911: 12 baby girls named Thurley [debut]
  • 1910: unlisted
  • 1909: unlisted

The SSA says that a dozen baby girls were named Thurley that year, but the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) reveals that the number could in fact be 31, or higher.

Why the Thurley spike?

A book called Thurley Ruxton, written by Philip Verrill Mighels, was published in 1911. The story was also serialized in several newspapers. Here’s how a reviewer at LibriVox describes it:

This is a rags to riches romance about an exceedingly beautiful, poor, young girl (Thurley Ruxton) who is mentored by one of New York’s elite hostesses. In order to draw them into her social circle, she allows all the famous and moneyed populous of Gotham to believe that Thurley is the princess Thurvinia hiding in New York to escape an arranged marriage.

I haven’t yet managed to find anyone named Thurvinia, though I did discover a Thurley Ruxton Matthews Zabor (1912-2009) in Ohio. Her obituary states that she was “named for the title character in a contemporary novel, “Thurley Ruxton.””

If you’d like to give the book a read/listen, here’s the text and here’s the audio.

One thought on “Where did the baby name Thurley come from in 1911?

  1. A few days ago I heard from a woman named Thurley!

    She emailed me privately so I won’t reproduce the email here, but basically she was named after a nurse who had been named for a character called Thurley. She’d been searching for the title of the book and finally found it here, in this post. Made my day to hear that. :)

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