Where did the baby name Denby come from in 1921?

Politician Edwin Denby (1870-1929)
Edwin Denby

The name Denby first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1921:

  • 1923: unlisted
  • 1922: 7 baby boys named Denby
  • 1921: 8 baby boys named Denby [debut]
  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Politician Edwin Denby, who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1921 to 1924.

But merely being in office wasn’t what put him (and his name) in the spotlight in 1921.

That year, the U.S. Mail was beset by a series of violent robberies — at least three dozen of them, “resulting in a theft of over $6.3 million.” In early November, the Postmaster General requested support from the Marines. Edwin Denby complied by ordering 53 officers and 2,200 enlisted men to guard the nation’s mail trucks and mail trains. The rousing letter he wrote to these Marines was widely quoted in the newspapers. Here’s an excerpt:

You must be brave, as you always are. You must be constantly alert. You must, when on guard duty, keep your weapons in hand and, if attacked, shoot, and shoot to kill. There is no compromise in this battle with bandits. […] I am proud of you and I believe in you with all my heart.

With Marines on duty, all mail robberies ceased. They kept watch over the mail for roughly four months before being withdrawn in March of 1922.

The English surname Denby can be traced back to any of various place names, all of which were derived from the Old Norse Danabyr, meaning “settlement of the Danes.”

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