The Battle of Waterloo — which marked the final defeat of Napoleon and the end of the Napoleonic Wars — took place on June 18, 1815, near the village of Waterloo (located south of Brussels).
Fighting against Napoleon were two forces: a British-led coalition that included Germans, Belgians, and Dutch (all under the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley) and an army from Prussia (under Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher).
Hundreds of babies were given the name “Waterloo” — typically as a middle — during the second half of the 1810s. Most of them were baby boys born in England, but some were girls, and some were born elsewhere in the British Empire (and beyond).
William Wellington Waterloo Humbley*, b. 1815, in England
Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon †, b. 1815, Belgium
The place-name Waterloo is made up of a pair of Middle Dutch words that, together, mean “watery meadow.” Since the battle, though, the word Waterloo has also been used to refer to “a decisive or final defeat or setback.” (It’s used this way in the 1974 Abba song “Waterloo” [vid], for instance.)
The Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) followed the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-c.1802), which followed the French Revolution (1789-1799), which gave rise to a number of revolutionary baby names in France.
*William Wellington Waterloo Humbley was born on the day of the battle (while his father, an army officer, was abroad taking part). He was baptized the following summer, and the Duke of Wellington himself stood godfather. Several years after that, in 1819, his parents welcomed daughter Vimiera Violetta Vittoria Humbley — named after the battles of Vimeiro (1808) and Vitoria (1813).
† Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon’s father, Thomas, had been wounded in the previous battle (Quatre Bras, on the 16th). Her mother, Martha — who was traveling with the army — searched the battlefield for him all night. Eventually she discovered that he’d been transported to Brussels, some 20 miles away, so she walked there with her three young children. (Through a 10-hour thunderstorm, no less.) She reached Brussels on the morning of the 18th, located her husband, and gave birth to Isabella on the 19th.
Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.
Let’s start with some stats:
1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.
And now, on to the names!
A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:
Top baby girl names
Top baby boy names
1. Mary 2. Catherine 3. Sarah 4. Ellen 5. Margaret
1. John 2. William 3. James 4. Charles 5. George
All Girl Names
Mary, 149 baby girls
Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
Back when sea voyages were the only way to reach distant lands, many babies ended up being born aboard ships. And many of these ship-born babies were given names that reflected the circumstances of their birth. A good portion of them, for instance, were named after the ships upon which they were born.
I’ve gathered hundreds of these ship-inspired baby names over the years, and I think it’s finally time to post what I’ve found…
Emma Abergeldie Walsh, born in 1884
Eva Abernyte Congdon, born in 1875
Herbert Bealie Abington Tait, born in 1884
Abyssinia Louise Juhansen, born in 1870
Abyssinia Elfkin, born in 1872
Louise Abyssinia Bellanger, born in 1874
John Achilles Denchey, born in 1871
U. Actoea Jones, born in 1868
John Adriatic Gateley Collins, born in 1879
Adriatic O’Loghlin Gould, born in 1880
Agnes Adriatic Cook, born in 1880
Frederick Agamemnon Dingly, born in 1876
Mary Alaska Magee, born in 1884
Gertrude Alcester Dart, born in 1884
Mary Duncan Alcinosa Greenwood, born in 1887
Aldergrove Andrew Fullarton Feathers, born in 1875
Ethel Aldergrove Winning, born in 1883
Rosalia Aleppo Rosenthal, born in 1866
Aleppo Atalanta Boardsen, born in 1883
Caroline Alexandrina Phillips, born in 1873
Mary Alexandrina Hedges, born in 1874
Alexandrina Horsnell, born in 1874
Louis Algeria Noizet, born in 1872
Edward Aliquin Poley, born in 1860
Joseph Allanshaw Moss, born in 1883
Frederick Allanshaw Shields, born in 1883
Almora May Leech, born in 1856
Emily Almora Hamper, born in 1883
Joseph Henry Almora Alford, born in 1883
Mary Almora Clothier, born in 1887
Almora Merten, born in 1887
William Alnwick Bull, born in 1861
Mary Alpheta Stone, born in 1877
Alsatia Campbell Carnalian, born in 1877
Eliza Altmore Harris, born in 1883
Alumbagh Eleanor Bright, born in 1868
Sarah Louise Alumbagh Hancock, born in 1868
Alvington Oak Silvester, born in 1879
William Amoor Walker, born in 1864
Anchoria Adelaide Williams, born in 1890
Mary Angerona Harwood, born in 1875
Clara Anglesey Oakley, born in 1859
Emma Jane Anglesey Conbrough, born in 1874
James Craig Anglia Watt, born in 1871
Emma Anglia Hewitt, born in 1873
Margaret Anglia Smith Mulholland, born in 1874
Mary Saxon Copeland, born in 1860
Lilias Antiope Carrick, born in 1884
Arthur Aorangi Burrow, born in 1884
Aorangi Millar, born in 1885
Ellen Corbet Aorangi Browne, born in 1891
Aorangi Townsend, born in 1934
Isabella Arabic East, born in 1887
Arcadia Herbert, born in 1877
Archer Grainger Bryans, born in 1883
Beatrice Archer Shambers, born in 1885
Sigri Argo Larsen, born in 1877
Aricania Pereg, born in 1883
Helen Arizona Erickson, born in 1881
Sarah Arizona Duggan, born in 1881
Ole Arizona Melting, born in 1881
Agnes Arizona Kane, born in 1884
Elenor Arizona Poulteny, born in 1884
Elizabeth Arizona Harvey, born in 1887
Marie Arizona Malm, born in 1887
Arundal Sheal Davis, born in 1870
Leopold Arundel Hofmeyer, born in 1876
George Arundel Baylis, born in 1876
Charles Arundel Holden, born in 1876
Herbert John Arvon Hughes, born in 1881
James Alfred George Henry Ashmore Curtis, born in 1882
He in turn gave his name to Medford, Minnesota, in the 1850s. His father, Englishman William K. Colling, was an early Minnesota settler who “said that he had a son who was born on board the ship Medford, and was named Medford, in honor of the ship, and proposed that the town should be named Medford in honor of the boy.”
Oklahoma-born country singer Reba McEntire is one of four siblings:
Alice, b. 1951
Del Stanley, “Pake” (rhymes with rake), b. 1953
Reba Nell, b. 1955
Martha Susan, “Susie,” b. 1957
Reba was named after her maternal grandmother, but the story of Pake’s nickname is a bit more interesting. Here’s how their mother Jacqueline starts the story:
Our oldest daughter, Alice, was named “Pedro Joe” long before her birth. Her father, Clark [veteran rodeo cowboy and inductee in the Rodeo Hall of Fame], would often write home on the road because we didn’t have a phone.
He’d say, “How is Pedro Joe?” and, if I knew where he was going to be, I’d write back to the next rodeo he was entering and tell the prospective father that he was just fine. Well, when the baby came, she was a little girl. End of Pedro Joe.
The same thing happened with their second child, who was called “Pecos Pete” or “Pake” before he was born. In his case, though, the name was retained. The formal name his parents chose for him was Del Stanley (after rodeo stars Del Haverty and Stanley Gomez), but the birth certificate reads: “Del Stanley (Pake).”
The McEntire’s in utero nicknaming tradition wasn’t carried on with Reba or Susie.
Pake went on to have three daughters: Autumn (born on the first day of autumn), Calamity (named after frontierswoman Calamity Jane), and Chism (named after cattle baron John Chisum).
Sharpe, Jerry. “Pake McEntire heads for success on his own.” Pittsburgh Press 1 Jun. 1986: 101.
Smith, Lisa. “Pake McEntire” Gavin Report August 8, 1986: 39.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).