How popular is the baby name Henry in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Henry.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Henry


Posts that Mention the Name Henry

What popularized the baby name Torey in 1959?

The character Torey Peck from the TV series "Peck's Bad Girl" (1959).
Torey Peck from “Peck’s Bad Girl”

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Torey shot up in usage for baby girls in 1959:

  • 1961: 20 baby girls named Torey
  • 1960: 51 baby girls named Torey
  • 1959: 103 baby girls named Torey [peak usage]
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted

Variant spellings of the name — like Tori, Torie, Tory, Torri, Torrie, Torre, and Torry — also saw higher usage that year. Torri, in fact, was the fastest-rising girl name of 1959.

To explain this one fully, we need to start with Wisconsin newspaper publisher-turned-politician George Wilbur Peck (1840-1916), who wrote a series of humorous “Peck’s Bad Boy” stories starting in the 1880s.

The main character, Henry Peck, was mischievous trickster. In fact, he became so well known in the late 1800s that the phrase “Peck’s Bad Boy” entered the language; Merriam-Webster defines it as “one whose bad behavior is a source of embarrassment or annoyance.”

The stories were later adapted for the big screen, with young Jackie Cooper playing the part of Henry. But in one of the movies, Peck’s Bad Girl (1918), the character was turned into a girl named Minnie Peck.

The main character was once again a girl in the single-season TV sitcom Peck’s Bad Girl, which aired originally from May to August, 1959. This time around, the “bad girl” was named Torey Peck, and she wasn’t mischievous so much as tomboyish. She was played by Patty McCormack of Bad Seed fame.

The show only lasted 13 episodes, but that was long enough to give Torey a sizeable boost in usage. (No doubt the rhyming name Lori, which was very trendy in the 1950s, had helped set the stage for Torey.)

Do you like the name Torey? Which spelling do you prefer?

Sources:

What popularized the baby name Tristan in the 1990s?

The character Tristran Ludlow (played by actor Brad Pitt) in the movie "Legends of the Fall" (1994).
Tristan Ludlow from “Legends of the Fall

The baby name Tristan saw an impressive jump in usage in the mid-1990s:

  • 1997: 4,196 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 92nd]
  • 1996: 5,458 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 68th]
  • 1995: 3,088 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 121st]
  • 1994: 492 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 452nd]
  • 1993: 567 baby boys named Tristan [rank: 409th]

The name’s rise in 1995 was the second-largest of the year (after Austin), and it reached the U.S. top 100 for the first time ever in 1996.

Here’s a visual:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Tristan in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Tristan

Many variant forms of the name saw higher usage during those years as well…

1994199519961997
Tristen736181,1881,078
Triston48372726666
Tristin34288630549
Tristian36157304287
Trystan1899182178
Treston31585860
Tryston.426975
Tristyn.286048
Trysten28†4862
Trystin6133742
Tristain.112521
Trestan.1176
Trestin511610
Trystyn.7*125
Tresten..810
Tristion..5*6
Tristine..5†.
Thristan..5*.
*Debut, †Gender-specific debut

Tristen, Triston, Tristin and Tristian all entered top 1,000 in 1995, and Trystan followed a year later.

The name that saw the largest relative increase in usage in 1995 was Tristin. In second place? Tristen.

(…And this doesn’t even account for all the Tristan-related girl names that got a mid-’90s boost.)

So, what was the influence?

The character Tristan Ludlow (played by Brad Pitt) from the movie Legends of the Fall — a saga set in rural Montana during the early decades of the 1900s.

Tristan was the rebellious middle son of rancher Col. William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins). He and his brothers — the older, ambitious Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and the younger, naïve Samuel (Henry Thomas) — all fell in love with the same beautiful woman, Susannah (Julia Ormond).

Released at the very end of 1994, the “big, robust Western love story” ranked #1 at the box office for four weeks straight in the early months of 1995.

Regarding Tristan Ludlow’s first name, one incredibly prescient reviewer noted that we should “look for [it] to be given to more than a few babies over the next few years.”

Tristan Ludlow didn’t end up with Susannah, but he did get married — to a Native American woman named Isabel (Karina Lombard). The name Karina saw it’s highest-ever usage in 1995, and the usage of Isabel also increased — though it was already on the rise, so there’s no telling how much of the increase was due specifically to the film.

Speaking of Isabel’s rise…

The fact that Legends of the Fall featured both a character named Isabel and an actor named Aidan, and that forms of these names (Isabella and Aiden) went on to reach the U.S. top 10 — peaking almost simultaneously a decade and a half later — is very interesting to me. It makes me wonder whether the movie’s impact on U.S. baby names wasn’t substantially greater (but also more complex?) than what the mid-’90s data would have us believe.

Isabella ranking, U.S.Aiden ranking, U.S.
20123rd10th
20112nd9th*
20101st*9th*
20091st*12th
20082nd16th
*Peak usage

(I began wondering about this after a friend of mine, who has a son named Aiden, mentioned that she’d had the name in the back of her mind ever since seeing Legends of the Fall as a teenager.)

What are your thoughts on this theory?

And, do you know anyone with a name that was inspired by Legends of the Fall?

Sources:

Common Amish names: Jacob, Malinda, Benuel, Naomi

Amish man in a buggy

Which names are the most common among the Amish?

The simplest answer is “Biblical names,” but that’s not the full answer.

Because certain Biblical names are preferred over others, and Biblical names aren’t used exclusively.

Plus, the prevalence of a name could vary depending upon the specific Amish settlement you’re talking about.

I’ve gathered about 100 of the most common Amish names below. Before we get into specifics, though, here’s a bit of background on the Amish…

Who are the Amish?

The Amish are an Anabaptist group that intentionally maintain a degree of separation from the wider world. They wear plain clothing, eschew modern conveniences (like cars), and partake in traditional occupations such as farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, and (for women) homemaking.

The Anabaptist movement began in Europe in the 1520s, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists were particularly known for the practice of adult baptism. They were also opposed to war, and they believed in the separation of church and state.

Considered radicals, the Anabaptists were widely persecuted.

In 1693, the Swiss branch of the Anabaptist movement (a.k.a., the Swiss Brethren) experienced a schism. Those who followed reformer Jacob Amman came to be known as the Amish, whereas those who did not came to be known as the Mennonites (after Dutchman Menno Simons, one of the original Anabaptist leaders).

In the early 1700s, many Amish (and Mennonites) immigrated to the New World — specifically to the Province of Pennsylvania, which had been founded upon the principle of religious freedom.

Today, over 367,000 Amish live in the U.S., and roughly two-thirds of them reside in three states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Amish men and women.

Common Amish names

The most comprehensive source of Amish names I came across was also the oldest, so let’s go through all the sources chronologically.

In 1960, researcher Elmer L. Smith published data on the most common male and female names among the Amish of southeastern Pennsylvania from 1890 to 1956.

The 1,337 Amish males in the study shared a total of just 72 different first names. Over a quarter of the males had one of the top three names (John, Amos, or Jacob), and over 81% had one of the top 20 names.

The 1,356 Amish females in the study shared even fewer first names: only 55. Over a quarter of the females had one of the top three names (Mary, Sarah, or Annie), and over 88% had a top-20 name.

According to Smith’s research, these were the 20 most common names per gender (plus their frequency of usage):

Amish female namesAmish male names
1Mary, 10.0%John, 11.9%
2Sarah, 7.9%Amos, 7.3%
3Annie, 9.1%*Jacob, 6.5%
4Katie, 7.1%David, 6.4%
5Lizzie, 6.4%Samuel, 6.2%
6Rebecca, 6.1%Christian, 6.1%
7Fannie, 5.3%Daniel, 5.5%
8Barbara, 5.1%Benjamin, 3.8%
9Rachel, 5.1%Levi, 3.7%
10Lydia, 4.9%Aaron, 3.1%
11Emma, 3.8%Jonas, 3.0%
12Malinda, 3.5%Elam, 2.8%
13Susie, 3.2%Stephen, 2.8%
14Sadie, 2.5%Isaac, 2.5%
15Leah, 1.9%Henry, 2.4%
16Hannah, 1.5%Jonathan, 1.8%
17Naomi, 1.4%Eli, 1.7%
18Mattie, 1.3%Gideon, 1.6%
19Lavina, 1.1%Moses, 1.5%
20Arie, 1.1%Joseph, 1.1%
*Annie was ranked below Sarah in the research paper, but this seems to be a typo, given the percentages.

Smith also wrote the following:

Other given names for males may reflect the important place the martyred forefathers hold in the minds of the sect members. The given name Menno is frequently found; this honors Menno Simmons [sic] an early leader of the plain sects. Ammon is also quite common, and is traced to Jacob Amman for whom the Amish sect is named; otherwise given names are from the Bible.

(Menno, a form of the Dutch name Meine, can be traced back to the Old High German word magan, meaning “strength.” The occupational surname Amman(n), which was derived from the German word amtmann, originally referred to someone employed as an official or administrator.)

A couple of years after Smith’s study came out, Dr. William Schreiber (a professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio) published a book about the Amish of east-central Ohio. In one paragraph, he mentioned some of the names he’d encountered:

One learns here that the good old biblical names are still common with the Amish but are in competition with modern or more euphonious ones. The names of the children of large families are often a study in contrasts. In one family there are, for example, Benjamin, Samuel, Isaac, Stephen, John, Israel, Christ, Barbara, Mary, Hannah, Annie, Mattie, and Lizzie. Another family has chosen these names for its children: Sarah, Lizzie, Samuel, Benjamin, John, Annie, Marie, Daniel, David, Enos, Sylvia, and Malinda. Then there are three Amish brothers named Isaac, Levi, and Elmer. One wonders how Vesta, Delila, Dena, Saloma, Drusilla, or Verba, or boys’ names like Junie, Venus, or Aquilla came into strict Christian families?

Speaking of east-central Ohio, Barbara Yoder Hall — who was born in 1940 and grew up with ten siblings in the Amish community of Holmes County — recalled in her book Born Amish (1980) the following first names:

First names for girls are usually Cora, Mattie, Annie, Lizzie, Barbara, Fannie, Katie, Mary, Naomi, Emma, Jemima, Ella, Sarah, Levina and Mandy.

First names for boys are John, Mose, Ferdinand, Dannie, Sam, Amos, Albert, Emanual, Levi, Rudy, Enos, Eli, Jacob and Joseph.

Amish men in a wagon.

Now for a pair of sources from the digital age…

The website Amish America, run by Erik Wesner (who is not Amish, but has visited Amish communities in 15 different states), lists the following names as being common among the Amish. He found many of the male names in Raber’s Almanac, which “contains a listing of Amish church ministers,” while many of the female names came from various church directories.

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Elizabeth
Emma
Fannie
Hannah
Katie
Linda
Lizzie
Lovina/Lavina
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Rebecca
Ruby
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Waneta
Abram
Amos
Atlee
Eli
Elmer
Harley
Isaac
Jacob
John
Lavern
Leroy
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Samuel
Vernon
Wayne
Willis

Some of Erik’s commentary…

  • Eli: “You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.”
  • Leroy: “Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities.”
  • Lizzie: “Lizzie is a popular form in some Pennsylvania communities.”
  • Naomi: “Amish, at least in Lancaster County, pronounce this ‘Nay-oh-mah.'”
  • Ruby: “Quite a few Rubies in northern Indiana.”
  • Vernon: “[P]retty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”

Finally, according to the blog Amish Heritage, written by a woman named Anna (who grew up Amish in Pennsylvania), common Amish names include…

Common Amish female namesCommon Amish male names
Amanda
Anna/Annie
Barbara
Betty
Clara
Edna
Elizabeth
Esther
Fannie
Hannah
Lavina
Lena
Lydia
Malinda
Martha
Mary
Miriam
Naomi
Priscilla
Rachel
Rebecca
Ruth
Sadie
Sarah
Susie
Aaron
Abner
Abram
Amos
Benuel
Christian/Christ
Daniel
David
Eli
Elmer
Emmanuel
Henry
Isaac
Jacob
John
Jonas
Leroy
Lloyd
Mark
Melvin
Mervin
Moses
Omar
Paul
Samuel
Steven/Stephen
Vernon

Both websites noted that some Amish communities (particularly New Order Amish communities) have recently started giving their children less traditional first names.


So how do these lists square with what we’ve observed in the U.S. baby name data?

It’s hard to tell with historically popular names like Mary and John, but we can see some interesting things when we focus on relatively rare names.

For instance, the names Atlee, Benuel, Delila, Dena, Lavina, Menno, Saloma, and Willis have all been mentioned recently in my posts about names with a high degree of state specificity (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). As you’d expect, they were associated with the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and/or Indiana. (Benuel, in fact, has only ever appeared in the Pennsylvania data — going all the way back to the 1940s.)

Several of the other names — including Amos, Elam, Fannie, Malinda, and Mervin — saw higher usage in Pennsylvania than in any other state in 2021.

I was surprised that none of my sources listed the name Barbie. Most of them mentioned Barbara (one of them was even named Barbara), and all of them included nicknames (like Lizzie). But Barbara’s diminutive form was curiously absent — even though most of its usage occurs in Pennsylvania:

Girls named Barbie, U.S.Girls named Barbie, Penn.
20213722 (59%)
20202617 (65%)
20193320 (61%)
20182113 (62%)
20172916 (55%)
20162814 (50%)

Rhoda and Mahlon are two more names that I somewhat expected to see.

Ammon is a very interesting case, because the name also has significance to an entirely different religious group: the Mormons. (The Book of Mormon features two prominent figures named Ammon.) From the 1910s to the 1960s, the name Ammon — much like Benuel — only appeared in the Pennsylvania data. Since the 1980s, though, the state with the largest number of baby boys named Ammon has been Utah.


What are your thoughts on the first names used by the Amish? Which of the above do you like the most?

And, for anyone out there with close ties to an Amish family/community: What other names would you add to this list?

P.S. This post is dedicated to my delightful commenters alex and Andrea. :)

Sources:

Images by Chris Chow from Unsplash, Amyd from Pixabay, and Clark Young from Unsplash

Popular and unique baby names in Sonoma County (California), 2021

Sonoma

According to the government of Sonoma, California, the most popular baby names in the county last year were Mia and and Mateo.

Here are Sonoma’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Mia, 29 baby girls
  2. Olivia, 26
  3. Isabella, 24
  4. Luca, 22
  5. Luna, 21
  6. Gianna, 18
  7. Aurora, 17 (tie)
  8. Emma, 17 (tie)
  9. Riley, 16 (tie)
  10. Eliana, 16 (tie)

Boy Names

  1. Mateo, 38 baby boys
  2. Liam, 29
  3. Noah, 28
  4. James, 23
  5. Oliver, 22
  6. Benjamin, 21
  7. Lucas, 19 (tie)
  8. Sebastian, 19 (tie)
  9. Jacob, 17 (4-way tie)
  10. Jack, 17 (4-way tie)

(The other two names in the 4-way tie were Henry and Julian.)

Here are some of the baby names that were bestowed just once in Sonoma last year:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Ahsoka, Bowyn, Cordova, Dutton, Eivissa, Fiadh, Galdina, Hanalie, Indira, Jinora, Ketsana, Levaleah, Metzli, Nebula, Odette, Peninaiaiga, Quinnie, Rockella, Sersha, Tallulah, Umi, Vrianna, Wren, Yadelene, ZeyaAxis, Beaudin, Codiak, Delmar, Elymus, Fletcher, Gibb, Herbert, Ilumi, Jonael, Kalais, Lesinali, Maimonides, Neithan, Ozan, Perrin, Ratu, Samarth, Tonalli, Usyk, Ville, Waimea, Xavien, Yamikani, Zabdiel

Some thoughts on a few of the above…

  • Ahsoka is a character from the Star Wars universe.
  • Dutton is the surname of the family featured on the TV show Yellowstone.
  • Sersha looks like a phonetic rendering of Saoirse.
  • Maimonides refers to Moses ben Maimon, a medieval Jewish philosopher.
  • Tonalli is a Nahuatl word that refers to the warmth of the sun (among other things).

Finally, here are the 2020 rankings for Sonoma, if you’d like to compare.

Source: Sonoma County Baby Names

Babies named for Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher

Prussian military leader Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742-1819)
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher

At the age of 71, retired Prussian military leader Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher returned to active service after war broke out (again) between Prussia and France in early 1813.

Later the same year, he was one of the victors in the Battle of Leipzig (the “largest military engagement in 19th-century Europe”), and, in mid-1815, he became an important contributor to the Allied defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Many dozens of babies were named for Blücher in the early 1800s. Most of them were born in Germany and England, but others were born in the U.S. and elsewhere. Here’s a sampling…

  • Frederick Von Blucher Scrutton, b. 1814 in England
  • John Christoph Blucher Ehringhaus, b. 1814 in the U.S. (North Carolina)
  • William Blucher Dolton, b. 1814 in England
  • Christian Gebhard Lebrecht Karup, b. 1814 in Denmark
  • Blucher Wellington Macan, b. 1815 in England
  • Gebhard Leberecht Friedrich Wilhelm Klammrott, b. 1815 in Germany
  • Wellington Blucher Peirce, b. 1815 in the U.S. (Vermont)
  • Friedrich Gebhard Leberecht Conrad, b. circa 1815 in Germany
  • Henry Wellington Blucher Haggis, b 1816 in England
  • Blücher Wellington Bülow Leopold Herrmann, b. circa 1816 in Germany
    • His third given name no doubt refers to Bülow. :)
  • Franz Blücher Wellington Victor Fischer, b. 1816 in Prussia
  • Gebhard Lebrecht Weltzein, b. 1816 in Germany
  • Blucher Ingham, b. circa 1817 in England
  • Paul Gebhard Lebrecht Riebow, b. 1818 in Germany
  • Nelson Wellington Blucher Jefferys, b. 1819 in England
  • Wellington Blucher Fisher, b. 1819 in the U.S. (West Virginia)
  • Picton Blucher Liddle, b. circa 1820 in England
    • His first name refers to Gen. Thomas Picton, who was killed at Waterloo.
  • Marshall Blucher Dumford, b. circa 1821 in the U.S. (Ohio)
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Gebhard Leberecht Büttner, b. 1822 in Germany

A handful of German baby girls got feminized versions of the name, such as Blücherdine, Blücherine, Blüchertine, and Blücherhilde (hilde means “battle, war”).

Blücher’s middle name, Leberecht, was a relatively recent Protestant coinage made up of the German words lebe, “live,” and recht, “right.”

Sources: