How popular is the baby name Walter 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 Walter.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Walter


Posts that Mention the Name Walter

Baby born to shipwreck survivors, named after ship

A depiction of the wreck of the Netherby (1866).
The wreck of the Netherby

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.

Sources:

P.S. The Netherby‘s captain, originally from Wales, was named Owen Owens.

Where did the baby name Troas come from in 1969?

Beauty queen Troas Hayes in 1968
Troas Hayes (in 1968)

The intriguing name Troas was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data, appearing in 1969 only:

  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: 5 baby girls named Troas [debut]
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: unlisted

The source?

Troas Hayes, a young woman from California. She won the Miss California contest in June of 1968 and went on to represent the state at the Miss USA contest in Miami Beach in May of 1969. She didn’t win, but did come in 4th runner-up.

Where did her unique name come from?

Contemporary sources stated that her father’s name was Walter Hayes, but research reveals that he was actually her step-father. Her biological father was named Virgil Troas Hoffmeister. (He died when Troas was a baby.) I don’t know the story behind Virgil’s name, but both of his given names have classical roots — Virgil being an ancient Roman poet, and Troas being an ancient region in what is now Turkey.

What are your thoughts on Troas as a girl name?

P.S. The 1969 Miss USA contestant from Alabama also had an interesting name: Hitsy Parnell. “Hitsy” was a nickname; her real first name was Wilhelmina.

Sources:

Image: © 1968 Sacramento Bee (from the Center for Sacramento History)

Popular baby names in Sweden, 2021

sweden

The Nordic country of Sweden is located in Northern Europe and shares land borders with Norway and Finland.

Last year, Sweden welcomed over 114,200 babies — nearly 55,800 girls and close to 58,500 boys.

What were the most popular names among these babies? Alice and Noah.

Here are Sweden’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Alice, 706 baby girls
  2. Maja, 681
  3. Vera, 674
  4. Alma, 667
  5. Selma, 660
  6. Elsa, 652
  7. Lilly, 625
  8. Ella, 606
  9. Astrid, 596
  10. Wilma, 586
  11. Ellie, 584
  12. Olivia, 555
  13. Freja, 551
  14. Leah, 547
  15. Ines, 539
  16. Signe, 534
  17. Stella, 511
  18. Ebba, 509
  19. Clara, 492
  20. Saga, 481
  21. Alva, 479
  22. Agnes, 473
  23. Ester, 441
  24. Hedda, 423
  25. Alicia, 398 (tie)
  26. Mila, 398 (tie)
  27. Julia, 388
  28. Iris, 372
  29. Molly, 370
  30. Luna, 362
  31. Juni, 355
  32. Sigrid, 353
  33. Ellen, 346
  34. Leia, 334
  35. Nova, 306
  36. Livia, 303
  37. Lova, 298
  38. Celine, 294
  39. Meja, 289
  40. Emilia, 286
  41. Elvira, 279
  42. Elise, 275 (tie)
  43. Nora, 275 (tie)
  44. Linnea, 273
  45. Liv, 271
  46. Edith, 265 (tie)
  47. Lo, 265 (tie)
  48. Sofia, 262
  49. Sara, 259
  50. Tyra, 256

Boy Names

  1. Noah, 745 baby boys
  2. William, 726
  3. Liam, 683
  4. Hugo, 679
  5. Lucas, 668
  6. Adam, 643
  7. Oliver, 635
  8. Matteo, 632
  9. Frans, 581
  10. Elias, 577
  11. Walter, 576
  12. Leo, 562
  13. Leon, 550
  14. Oscar, 547
  15. Alfred, 540
  16. August, 531
  17. Nils, 521
  18. Harry, 509
  19. Theo, 505
  20. Sam, 498
  21. Otto, 481
  22. Ludvig, 476
  23. Arvid, 468
  24. Elliot, 456
  25. Charlie, 442
  26. Malte, 439
  27. Isak, 438
  28. Alexander, 429
  29. Louie, 425
  30. Theodor, 420
  31. Ebbe, 406
  32. Adrian, 403
  33. Olle, 398 (tie)
  34. Vincent, 398 (tie)
  35. Benjamin, 394
  36. Filip, 389
  37. Melvin, 377
  38. Love, 375
  39. Axel, 368
  40. Gabriel, 366
  41. Henry, 343
  42. Mohammed, 337
  43. Jack, 329
  44. Elton, 327
  45. Colin, 325
  46. Josef, 322
  47. Aron, 319
  48. Viggo, 309
  49. Edvin, 305
  50. Albin, 304

(Each of these names represents the most common spelling of that name, but “the numbers include all alternative spellings,” according to Statistics Sweden.)

In the girls’ top 10, Vera and Lilly replaced Olivia and Freja.

In the boys’ top 10, Frans — which jumped to 9th place from 27th the year before — replaced Oscar.

The names in Sweden’s top 100 that rose the fastest from 2020 to 2021 were Alba and Ted. (The previous fastest-rising male name, Björn, was second-fastest this time around.) The names that saw the steepest drops in usage were Ronja and Vincent.

In 2020, the top two names were also Alice and Noah.

Source: Name Statistics – Statistics Sweden

What turned Greer into a girl name in the early 1940s?

Actress Greer Garson (1904-1996)
Greer Garson

From the 1910s to the 1930s, the rare name Greer occasionally popped in the in the U.S. baby name data as a boy name. In the early 1940s, though, it suddenly started being given to baby girls:

  • 1943: 37 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Greer
  • 1942: 15 baby girls and 6 baby boys named Greer
  • 1941: 5 baby girls named Greer
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted

In fact, from 1941 onward, the name Greer has been given more often to baby girls than to baby boys:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Greer
Graph of the usage of the name Greer

What caused the switch?

Red-haired British actress Greer Garson, who was most popular in America during the early-to-mid 1940s. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress seven times, though she won only once (for her role in the 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver).

Her birth name was Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson; Greer was her mother’s maiden name. She began going by “Greer Garson” in the early 1930s, while she was still a stage actress in England.

Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM studios, discovered Garson in 1937 while he was abroad hunting for talent. After that particular trip, he sailed back to the U.S. with Garson and several other finds:

Also on board were two Austrian actresses named Hedy Kiesler and Rose Stradner, screenwriter Walter Reisch, and two singers, Hungarian Ilona Hajmassy, and Polish Miliza Korjus. While Mayer renamed Hedy Kiesler “Hedy Lamarr” and changed Ilona Hajmassy to “Ilona Massey,” he was stumped when it came to Greer and Miliza Korjus. Ultimately, he settled with Howard Strickling [head of MGM’s publicity department] to start a publicity campaign for Korjus (“her name rhymes with gorgeous!”), and left Greer’s name alone. But for years he would continue to complain that her name was not feminine enough.

The surname Greer is related to the personal name Gregory, which means “watchful, alert.”

What are your thoughts on the name Greer? Do you like it better as a girl name or as a boy name?

Sources:

P.S. The top image of (a very bejeweled) Greer Garson comes from her appearance on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” in April of 1958.

P.P.S. At the height of her fame, Greer Garson owned two standard poodles with the rhyming names Gogo and Clicquot (pronounced klee-koh).

Popular baby names in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1868

19th-century Providence, Rhode Island
19th-century Providence

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!

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:

Top baby girl namesTop 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

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 39
  3. Sarah, 38
  4. Ellen, 31
  5. Margaret, 28
  6. Elizabeth, 25
  7. Alice, 24
  8. Anna, 20
  9. Ann, 16
  10. Emma, 14
  11. Eliza, 13
  12. Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
  13. Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
  14. Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
  15. Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
  17. Anne, Carrie, Hattie, Ida, Mabel & Nellie, 6 each (6-way tie)
  18. Eva, Joanna, Lydia & Rosanna, 5 each (4-way tie)
  19. Abby, Charlotte, Emily, Jessie, Josephine, Lillian, Lizzie, Louisa, Louise, Marion, Phebe, Rosella & Theresa, 4 each (13-way tie)
  20. Anastasia, Bertha, Edith, Gertrude, Isabella, Nettie, Pearl, Rebecca & Susanna, 3 each (9-way tie)
  21. Ada, Almira, Edna, Fannie, Flora, Frances, Helen, Henrietta, Inez, Laura, Lelia, Lillie, Lottie, Maud, Priscilla & Virginia, 2 each (16-way tie)
  22. Addie, Adelaide, Adelicia, Adeline, Agatha, Allene, Amanda, Amy, Angelica, Antoinette, Arabella, Augusta, Aurelia, B.*, Belle, Bessie, Betsey, Catharine, Celia, Claudia, Della, Eleanor, Eleanora, Estella, Estelle, Esther, Eudavelia, Eulalie, Evelyn, Francenia, Genevieve, Georgia, Honora, Imogene, Jesse, Juliette, Kate, Leonora, Lilla, Lillias, Lorena, Luella, Luetta, Magdalena, Marian, Marietta, Matilda, Mercy, Minerva, Miriam, Myra, Myrtis, Nanoan, Nora, Pauline, Reberta, Rhoda, Roberta, Rosa, Rose, Ruth, Sabrina, Sophia, Stella & Winifred, 1 each (65-way tie)

*What do you think the “B.” might have stood for?

All Boy Names

  1. John, 112 baby boys
  2. William, 68
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 52
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 37
  7. Frederick, 25
  8. Henry, 23
  9. Joseph, 22
  10. Edward, 19
  11. Daniel & Patrick, 18 each (tie)
  12. Robert, 17
  13. Frank, 16
  14. Francis, 15
  15. Walter, 13
  16. Michael, 11
  17. Albert, 10
  18. Arthur, 9
  19. Benjamin, Peter & Samuel, 7 each (3-way tie)
  20. Freddie, Harry, Herbert & Stephen, 6 each (4-way tie)
  21. Edwin, Lawrence, Lewis, Martin & Timothy, 5 each (5-way tie)
  22. Bernard, Edmund, Eugene, Louis, Philip & Richard, 4 each (6-way tie)
  23. Alfred, Augustus, Christopher, Eben, Horace, Howard, Hugh, Jeremiah, Matthew & Willard, 3 each (10-way tie)
  24. Abel, Barney, Byron, Dennis, Edgar, Ferdinand, Gilbert, Luke, Max, Nathaniel, Owen, Roger, Solomon & Victor, 2 each (14-way tie)
  25. Alden, Alexis, Allen, Alrick, Amos, Andrew, Ansel, Anson, Archibald, Asa, Ashby, Bartholomew, Calvin, Carlos, Clarence, Clark, Clarke, Clement, Clifford, Collyer, Crolander, Darius, David, Earl, Elisha, Ellis, Eri, Ernest, Erwin, Eusebe, Everett, Felix, Forrest, Foster, Franklin, Fred, Gardner, Jacob, Jason, Jerome, Jireh, Joaneto, Josiah, Jubal, Justin, Lawson, Lodovic, Louis, Lucien, Lyman, Major, Malachi, Manuel, Melbourne, Monroe, Morey, Morris, Myron, Nelson, Nicholas, Olney, Orville, Oscar, Pendleton, Ralph, Reuben, Rolfe, Rowland, Rufus, Simeon, Simon, Steven, Stewart, Theodore, Ulysses*, Volney, Warren, Whiting, Willie & Winchester, 1 each (80-way tie)

*Ulysses was likely named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, who was elected president in 1868.

Twins

Finally, nineteen sets of twins were born in Providence in 1868. (All of these twin names are accounted for in the rankings above.)

Girl-girl twinsGirl-boy twinsBoy-boy twins
Caroline & Harriet
Lucy & Lydia
Mary & Rosanna
Margaret & Mary
Lizzie & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Anne & Thomas
Emma & Charles
Florence & William
Hannah & Josiah
Ida & John
Isabella & John
Jennie & Horace
Charles & William
Francis & Robert
George & John
James & John
James & Stephen
(blank) & (blank)

Have any thoughts about these rankings, or about any of the specific names above?

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of the Names of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence. Number three. Providence: Millard & Harker, 1870.