How popular is the baby name Napoleon 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 Napoleon.
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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
British soldier and politician Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, is best remembered for being the commander of the Anglo-allied army that (with the assistance of the Prussian Army) achieved victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Alexander I, the Czar of Russia, was to call him ‘Le vainqueur du vainqueur du monde‘, the conqueror of the world’s conqueror, and the world’s conqueror was, of course, Napoleon.
But, even before that, Wellesley had gained fame for his victories during the Peninsular War. And, afterward, he served as British Prime Minister (primarily from 1828 to 1830, but also for a few extra weeks in 1834).
Thousands of baby boys across the United Kingdom (and beyond) were named in his honor starting in the early 1810s. Some examples..
Arthur Wellesley Wellington Waterloo Cox, b. 1860 in England
Interestingly, Wellesley wasn’t born with the surname Wellesley. He was originally a Wesley. Sometime in the late 1790s, “the Wesley family reverted to the old Anglo-Norman spelling of Wellesley.” Arthur first signed his name “Arthur Wellesley” in May of 1798 (while he was stationed in India).
Apparently, it all has to do with Faroese national hero Nólsoyar Páll (“Paul from Nólsoy”).
Nólsoyar Páll — born as Poul Poulsen on the island of Nólsoy in 1766 — was a seaman/trader/farmer/poet who helped improve his country in various ways:
One of his most impressive achievements was his attempt to develop direct trade between the Faroe islands and the rest of Europe. To develop this trade, he bought and rebuilt a wrecked schooner. The ship was named Royndin Fríða (The Free Enterprise), and was the first seagoing ship built in the Faroe Islands and the first Faroese-owned vessel since the early Middle Ages.
Nólsoyar Páll had a strong admiration for Napoleon — who, at that time, was in the middle of trying to conquer Europe — and he wanted to name a son after the French leader.
His second child turned out to be a girl (his first child was also a girl), but that did not deter Nólsoyar Páll. He asked to name his daughter Napolonia, but the priest disapproved. Instead, she was named Apolonia after the Greek god Apollo.
Soon after, Nólsoyar Páll convinced his brother, Jákup Nolsøe, to name his son Napoleon. His brother agreed, calling him Napoleon Nolsøe. This is most probably the first Faroe Islander to be named Napoleon. Napoleon Nolsøe went on to become the first native certified doctor in the Faroe Islands.
Nólsoyar Páll’s nephew was born in 1809 — around the time Nólsoyar Páll himself was lost at sea.
I’m not sure how many Faroese Napoleons have been born since then, but my source noted that the Faroe Islands had 29 Napoleons and several Apolonias as of early 2018.