Liz and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — and fifth boy! She writes,
“In general I would say that my husband and I both prefer first names that are old fashioned (popular in the 1920s and 30s) and currently uncommon. We also tend to like names with a British (or otherwise European) flare. Also, there’s got to be a saint in there somewhere (first or middle name).
We don’t like “made up” names or weirdly spelled names. I don’t prefer common/traditional names as first names, but I am fine with them as middle names (Michael, Sam, Katherine, Rose, etc).”
(I love that: “a British (or otherwise European) flare.”)
Their older boys are:
John-Paul Joseph (“I realize that John-Paul is common in Catholic circles and I specifically said uncommon, but we love St. John Paul so much that we were set on this name before we were even married. Outside of Catholic circles it is pleasantly uncommon and often people think we’re just big Beetles fans. Haha! Joseph is in honor of my grandpa as well as St. Joseph“)
William David (“I like that William is strong and it’s got a British sense to me… Prince William and all that. It is, however a bit too common. That bugs me. He was almost Oliver but I think we just chickened out. Oliver was still weird in 2008 and we didn’t have the guts to be weird, I guess. I’m over that now. 😉 Or maybe it was just intended to be saved for the next kid. David is [a family name]“)
Oliver Francis (“This is probably my favorite of all of the names we’ve chosen. I just love it. Refined, (was) uncommon, old fashioned, a touch Brit. Oliver was not quite so common as it is now when he was born in 2010. I kind of hate that it’s more popular now, but what can I say, we must be trend setters. 🙂 Francis is after Francis of Assisi“)
Theodore Anthony (“We always call him Teddy. We actually named him Theodore specifically to use Teddy. Teddy seems uncommon and old fashioned. Anthony is after St. Anthony with whom I am tight“)
(“Anthony is after St. Anthony with whom I am tight”!!!! I love it!!! 😂❤)
Names they’re currently considering include:
Otto (“Husband is on the fence about this one but he hasn’t vetoed it completely“)
Louis (“French pronunciation“)
Atticus (“I actually haven’t ran this one past the husband yet, but I really like it“)
And names that they like but can’t use for one reason or another include:
“I am fine with very common/traditional middle names, I’d prefer to avoid them as first names. We don’t have any middle names in mind yet! … We like nicknames, so feel free to suggest those if a good one strikes you.”
Alrighty, so I found this consultation to be somewhat of a challenge, which I love! It’s so fun to have to dig deep to find names that seem to fit. But it also means that I’m not as confident that I’ve done a good job here – some of my ideas are spot on I think, but others require explanation because I think otherwise Liz and her hubs might dismiss them right away.
First, I love their boys’ names! I think their taste and mine have a good deal of overlap—William, Oliver, John Paul, and Theodore are all names I love and have considered!
Second, reading Liz’s email made me feel like I was chatting with my sister-in-law—I think they’re name twins! My SIL loves Oliver, Beau, George, Henry, and Arthur—how funny is that? It might be worthwhile to check out the consultation I did for her and my brother, and the name they ended up choosing.
Okay! As you all know, I almost always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. Based on that research and my own namey head, these are my ideas:
(1) Bennet(t) or Elliot(t)
I was really excited to suggest Bennet(t) to this family! I was trying to think of names that I think of as similar to John-Paul (it doesn’t have its own entry in the BNW), and Benedict is always one, but even though Mr. Cumberbatch has made it so fabulous and British, I suspected brothers John-Paul and Benedict would be a bit much. Which is when I thought of Bennet(t)! It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it retains the saintly and papal panache, but in a more hidden way, and it’s got oodles of Brit awesomeness because of the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice!
I’m listing Bennet(t) and Elliot(t) together because they’re pretty similar to me—both medieval variants of holy names (in Elliot(t)’s case, it’s Elijah), both with literary last-name connections (T.S. Eliot). Elliot(t)’s also a style match for Oliver.
Liz listed several old-man names that she and her hubs like (Otto, George, Louis, Arthur), and they made me think of Walter, which is also a favorite of my sister-in-law, so I thought they might like it! Wally, Walt, and Wat(t) are all traditional nicknames for it—so fusty-fresh!
Edmund’s peak of popularity was in 1914, and it’s Brit as Brit can be. Like Edward on Liz’s list, it can take the nicknames Ed(die) and Ned (I suspect they might really like Ned). St. Edmund Campion’s an awesome patron for a little boy. Buuutttt … I’m just thinking now that Eddie and even Ned are probably too close to Teddy right? Drat! But wait! JP2’s brother’s name was Edmund and he went by Mundek! Ooh I love that!
I loooove Jasper! It’s the name traditionally given to one of the Wise Men (you might also see its variants Casper and Gaspar instead—they’re all the same name). It’s a style match for Oliver, and it reads really Brit to me.
Robert was big in the 20s and 30s and I’ve been loving the idea of Rory as a nickname for it, which leans toward Liz’s affinity for Brit/European names. Another possibility is Bo, which nods to the Beau on her list. (Relatedly, this sweet little girl was going to be Robert Boethius nicked Bo if she had been a boy! Swoon!) Robert is also St. Robert Bellarmine, which ties in nicely with the heavy-hitting John-Paul.
When I saw Stephen listed as a style match for William, it felt right as a suggestion for Liz and her hubs right away. It’s super classic and of course biblical and saintly. I think using the full Stephen rather than Steve will help it seem more 20s/30s. I’m sure they have their own way of choosing middle names, but if they’re looking for ideas, Catholic Digest Editor Danielle Bean has a son named Stephen Matthias, which I think is ah-MAZ-ing!
Finally, Patrick. It’s got a similar popularity arc to Stephen I think, and it’s got the European flavor if they want to think of it that way (Ireland), but as with so many of my other suggestions here, it was the offbeat nicknames that clinched it for me as a suggestion for them. Pat and Paddy are certainly common and solid, but I’ve recently been hearing Packy and Patch, which I think are adorable!
And those are all my suggestions! What do you all think? Am I close? Or totally off? I’m worried especially that Robert, Stephen, and Patrick are too “common/traditional,” even though they’re otherwise good style matches … I’d love to hear your suggestions for the little brother of John-Paul, William, Oliver, and Theodore!