Where did the baby name Adderly come from in 1987?

The character V. H. Adderly from the TV series "Adderly" (1986-1988)
V. H. Adderly from “Adderly

The rare name Adderly first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:

  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 6 baby boys named Adderly [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted


My guess is the TV series Adderly (1986-1988), a spy spoof that was produced in Canada and broadcast in both Canada and the United States.

The main character was Virgil Homer “V. H.” Adderly, played by Canadian actor Winston Rekert.

Adderly was a former secret agent who, after being injured (his left hand was crushed by an enemy agent wielding a medieval mace), got reassigned to a desk job in his agency’s Miscellaneous Affairs department. Despite this, Adderly kept uncovering “overlooked threats amongst the pushed papers” and took action to investigate and prevent these plots.

I don’t know if any Canadian babies were named Adderly in the 1980s, unfortunately, as the Canadian data only goes back to 1991.

But I do know that the surname Adderly can be traced back to either of two locations in England called Adderley. One of the locational names is based on the Old English personal name Ealdred (male), while the other is based on the Old English personal name Ealdthryth (female). In both cases, the second element of Adderley derives from the Old English word leah, meaning “clearing” or “meadow.”

What are your thoughts on the name Adderly?


  • Adderly – Wikipedia
  • Romanko, Karen A. Television’s Female Spies and Crimefighters: 600 Characters and Shows, 1950s to the Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2016.
  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • SSA

Image: Screenshot of Adderly

3 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Adderly come from in 1987?

  1. I hate it. It sounds like an adverb meaning “like an adder [snake].” And these days, people will add “leigh” to the end of any word at all and call it a name, a trend I despise.

  2. Usually when I encounter a rare name I’ve never heard before, I’ll look up the name on Facebook or Google so I can “put a face” to the name and see the kinds of people or kinds of lives that people with those names live. It seems like there’s quite a few Adderlys with Hispanic last names!

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