A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Abigail Ada Adelaide Adelle Adeline Addie Aggie Agnes Alberta Alecia Aletha Alfretta Alice Allie Alma Almeda Almira Alta Althea Alvira Alzina Amanda Amelia Amy Ann Anna Annabell Annas Annette Angelia Angeline Annie Athaliah Athelia Augusta Aura Avis Barbara Beatrice Bell Bella Berdie Bertha Bertie Bessie Beulah Blanche Bridget Calista Carrie Carlotta Cassie Catherine Cecilia Cela Celia Celicia Celis Charlotte Chloe Christie Christine Clara Clarissa Cleanthe Clementina Constance Cora
Cordelia Corinne Cornelia Cynthia Cyrena Debbie Delia Della Diana Diantha Dinah Dollie Dora Dorcas Dorinda Dorothy Edith Edna Effie Ella Eleanor Eleanora Electa Ellen Elfie Eliza Elma Elsie Emma Emmeline Emily Ena Erma Estelle Esther Ethel Ethelind Ettie Eugenie Eula Eunice Euphemia Euretta Eva Evalina Eveline Evelyn Fannie Felicia Flora Florence Floss Frances Frank Gay Georgie Georgina Geraldine Gertie Gracie Hagar Hannah Harriet Hattie Helen Helena Henrietta Hulda
Ida Irene Isabel Isabella Isadora Jane Janet Janie Jeannette Jemima Jennet Jennie Jessie Jerusha Joanna Josephine Josie Julia Kate Kathleen Katie Keziah Lany Laura Leah Leila Lena Lera Lettie Levina Levinia Libbie Lida Lilian Lillie Lizzie Lola Lora Lorretta Lottie Lou Louisa Louise Lucinda Lucretia Lucy Luella Lula Lulu Lydia Mabel Madelaine Maggie Malvina Mamie Marcella Margaret Maria Marilla Marion Mary Marsena Martha Mattie Maud Maudie May Melinda
Mellissa Mercy Mertie Mildred Millie Mina Minerva Minnie Mintha Miranda Mollie Muriel Myra Myrtle Nancy Naomi Nellie Nettie Nina Nora Ollie Olive Olivia Ormanda Ophelia Pauline Pearl Phoebe Phyllis Priscilla Prudence Rachel Rebecca Rhoda Robena Rosa Rosabel Rosalie Rosalind Rosamond Rose Ruby Ruth Sabina Sadie Sally Samantha Sarah Selina Sophia Sophronia Stella Susanna Susie Sybil Teresa Theodocia Theresa Tillie Una Verna Victoria Vida Viola Violet Wilhelmina Winifred Zuba
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.
When Christos learned that his wife had named the baby Muriel, he left home in protest. He was eventually charged with failure to provide for his family.
In April of 1914, the couple had their day in court.
The judge “rendered a decision that a wife has absolute authority in the naming of children. The husband has nothing to do with it.” He sustained Esther’s choice and “and ordered Malamatinos to pay the family $5 a week.”
…Which of the two names do you prefer, Muriel or Helen?
“Greek to Stay in Jail Until Muriel is Helen.” Chicago Daily Tribune 15 Apr. 1914: 14.
“Wife Has Absolute Right to Name Children.” Evening News [San Jose] 17 April 1914: 5.
It’s a land survey, compiled in 1086, that covered much of England and parts of Wales.
The Domesday Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land (villagers, smallholders, free men, slaves, etc.), the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and other resources, any buildings present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.), and the whole purpose of the survey – the value of the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday.
The book is held at The National Archives in London, but its contents are available online at Open Domesday.
Most of the names in the Domesday Book are male, as most landowners were men. So, to be different (and to make things easier!) I thought I’d focus on the women.
The female names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (Multiple mentions don’t necessarily speak to name popularity, as this is not a representative sample of 11th-century people. Also, some individuals are simply mentioned in the book more than once.)
See anything you like?
Also, did you notice the names of Scandinavian origin (e.g., Guthrun, Ingrith, Sigrith)? “These names are most numerous in the eastern half of the country, particularly Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. This is precisely where, as we know from other evidence, there was a substantial settlement of Scandinavian immigrants.”
I’ve got some 13th-century English names for you today!
They come from the fine rolls of Henry III of England (1216–1272). The fine rolls were basically financial records. King Henry III wasn’t the first to keep them, but they “expand[ed] considerably in size and content during Henry’s reign.”
(These lists aren’t the same as the single-year, society-wide baby name popularity lists we’re accustomed to — they cover a wide range of birth years, and a small segment of society — but they do give us a general idea of which names were the most popular during the 1200s.)
Of the 8,423 male names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:
William (1,217 mentions)
Nicholas, Peter (180 each)
Andrew, Matthew (42 each)
Other names on the men’s list: Hamo, Fulk, Payn, Waleran, Drogo, Engeram, Amfrid, Ratikin, Walkelin, Bonefey, Fulcher, Hasculf, Herlewin, Joldwin, Lefsi, Marmaduke, Orm, Albizium, Cocky, Deulobene, Gwenwynwyn, Markewart.
Of the 1,314 female names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular: