On July 14, 1866, a ship called the Netherby — carrying emigrants from London to Brisbane — ran aground off the coast of King Island, located in the waters between Australia and Tasmania.
All 413 passengers and 49 crew made it to shore alive. Some of the food was saved, and a source of fresh water was located…but hundreds of people were still stranded on a largely uninhabited island in the middle of winter, “with only so much covering as could be provided by the use of sails and spars.”
Two days later, on July 16, a baby girl was born on the beach to passengers William and Ellen Cubbin.
Around the same time, second officer John Parry and a handful of others trekked roughly 35 miles to the Cape Wickham lighthouse. There, they borrowed a whaleboat and, despite rough seas and high winds, managed to reach mainland Australia (about 70 nautical miles away). Parry himself then traveled an extra 26 miles on horseback to Geelong, in order to telegram authorities in Melbourne.
About a week after the wreck, two rescue ships — the Victoria, followed by the Pharos — finally arrived.
All passengers and crew ended up surviving, remarkably.
And the baby’s name?
Netherby Victoria Louisa Cubbin — first name in honor of the the wrecked ship, second name in honor of the first rescue ship, and third name in honor of Louisa Hickmott, “the lighthouse keeper’s wife who gave Mr. Parry gin in a small bottle to sustain him whilst rowing and sailing a bulky whaleboat for help in heavy seas.”
Netherby “Nettie” Cubbin was the fourth of eight children. (Her siblings were named William, Alfred, Elizabeth, John, Walter, Eleanor, and Emily.) She eventually married and welcomed three children of her own — including a daughter to whom she passed down all three of her given names.
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)
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).
More old-timey name snark! This short article was published in a now-defunct Indiana newspaper in 1880.
The programmes of the school commencements—and our own High School is no exception to the rule—are made silly by “Nannies,” “Libbies,” “Kitties,” “Mamies,” and other pet names. No woman who drops the sensible “y” and spells her name with an “ie” termination will ever get beyond mediocre in any sphere. A pet name is for the household only. How everybody would smile if the male graduates insisted upon the same silly style, and were put down on the programmes as “Johnnies,” “Sammies,” “Jimmies,” etc. The literary nom de plume of a female author indicates to some extent the force of her mind; and we know just as well what to expect from the Lillie Linwoods and Mattie Myrtles as we do from the George Eliots. The former clearly foreshadows gush and twaddle, the latter suggests an idea of strength and common sense. You can scarcely pen a more suggestive satire against the helpfulness and independence of woman than to wrap her up in such terms of daily coddling and childish endearment as the pet names of Jennie, Nannie, Hattie, Minnie, Margie, Nettie, Nellie, Allie, Addie, Lizzie, and a host of others. How it lessens the dignity of any woman to be called by a baby name. For instance, persistently to call the two great chieftains of woman’s advanced status, Lizzie Cady Stanton and Susie B. Anthony, would crush, at one stroke, the revolution they have so much at heart. Under such sweet persiflage it would sink into languid imbecility, and furnish fresh food for laughter.
If I spelled my name “Nancie,” I would definitely use that “mediocre in any sphere” sentence as my Twitter bio.