Friday, February 17, 2012

Is 'Downton Abbey' a Good Source of Baby Names?

People who study baby names frequently cite the "100-year rule" — the notion that names become popular in century-long cycles.

That makes me wonder if "Downton Abbey" isn't a good source for would-be parents. After all, the show is set in 1912 (at the outset of the two-season series). So it should be chockfull of naming goodness.

Now, it's not a perfect source of 100-year monikers. The older characters would have names that were popular much earlier.

And you're relying on the show's writers to have picked true names from that era (given the anachronisms in dialogue, that's no sure thing).

But I find many of the names very appealing. I'm really hoping there's a spate of Lavinias born this year. C'mon, people, make that happen.

Here's a list of the names, along with when they peaked in popularity (in America, not Britain).

Anna (1800s)
Anthony (2007-2008)
Charles/Charlie (1800s)
Cora (1800s)
Daisy (1800s)
Edith (1800s)
Ethel (1890s)
Evelyn (1910-1920s)
Frederick/Freddie (1800s)
George (1800s)
Gwen (1950s)
Henry (1800s)
Isobel/Isabel (2003)
Jane (1940s)
John (1800s-1910s)
Joseph (1910s)
Lavinia (1800s)
Mary (1800s-1950s)
Matthew (1980s-1990s)
Richard (1930s-1940s)
Robert (1920s-1930s)
Rosamund/Rosa (1800s)
Sarah (1980s-1990s)
Sybil (1920s)
Thomas (1940s-1950s)
Vera (1910s)
Violet (1910s)
William (1800s-1910s)

As you can see, only a few of these are true 100-year names. The ones that peaked either before or during the 1910s are: Anna, Charlie, Cora, Daisy, Edith, Ethel, Evelyn, Freddie, George, Henry, John, Joseph, Lavinia, Rosamund, Vera, Violet and William.

Good choices, all.