Baby name consultation: Saintly surname style for third brother

Christina, who has an Etsy shop called The Rushnyk Room (“Beautifully repurposed rushnyks and vintage goods”), and her husband are expecting their third baby — a third boy! Little brother joins big brothers:

Shepherd Gerald (Shep)
Becket George (Beck)

I love them! They go together so well!

Christina writes,

We have decided to go ahead and use [husband’s middle name] Gray for this boy’s middle name … We (especially I) want there to be some kind of Catholic/Christian meaning. I loved Shepherd, because not only was it after The Good Shepherd, I also always loved the story of the shepherds at the nativity, and just thought it was a good name for a boy…a shepherd takes care of animals, lives in the outdoors, etc..we also love the nickname ‘Shep’ and our son goes by this often. Becket we got from St. Thomas Becket and we just liked the surname…a little more unique than just naming him Thomas and liked that he could go by ‘Beck’ as a nickname. We really like names that can be shortened, but this is not a total deal breaker….but I would prefer something that has a good nickname. So, we obviously like more unique names, but don’t want anything too strange…like we are trying too hard. ha

We already have a good list of names going, but hoping you can add to the mix.
Names we have been marinating on:

FISHER- After St. John Fisher, and again, similar to Shepherd, there are lots of fishermen references in the bible- Jesus, the apostles, etc..also, just a good ‘boy’ name. I really love this name … [but] really no good nickname for it. My husband thinks ‘Fin’ is just totally random and doesn’t make sense for Fisher, and Fish isn’t ideal.

AUSTIN- pretty common name, but we do like it. I googled that there actually is a St. Austin or is a nickname for Augustine (which I love bc I would love a baby Gus..but husband says no to that one…he is not down with the super Roman/formal/old sounding names…so no Maximilians, Boscos. etc), but I never knew that before…so doesn’t scream Catholic name to me…but maybe it is.

COOPER- I would like to spell it Cuper after St. Joseph Cupertino, but husband nixed that…so would it still be considered a saint’s name with this spelling? I am worried Cooper Gray would just be too secular for me…but I do like the name! We do love the nickname ‘Coop’.

FULTON- I love the idea of this name, but it just does not flow off the tongue that easily for me…if that makes any sense. Just wish it was a little more pleasing to my ears…but seeing if it grows on me.

PIERCE- this is actually also a family name as well, and I saw it is a form of Peter…similar to Fulton though…I really want to like it, but something about it just sounds harsh to my ears…but still in the running. We would also be using two family names if we did Pierce Gray, so not sure if that is totally kosher.

Other names we have thrown around…Cade, James, Patrick, Jack (a little common compared to his brother’s names, so not sure it would work, but we like those), Sawyer (not a saint’s name and too much ‘er’ with our last name, but it is a name we liked.

Um, I THINK that is everything! Do you think you would have anything to add? I feel like I have looked at so many name lists already!

Oh, and XAVIER! I love it, but husband is trying to come around on that one still…a little strange for him (he was not raised Catholic…I tried to tell him this isn’t really that strange of a name for Catholics!)

I so much enjoyed reading this whole thing! They just have such a great, fun style, while still being tied into the faith.

To start, some thoughts about the names on their list:

— I think Fisher nicked Fin is so clever!! Too bad Christina’s hubby doesn’t like it! I’m not sure what else there is as a nickname besides Fin and Fish though! Unless … they *could* call him Jack, since Fisher is for St. John Fisher, and Jack’s a nickname for John. That would cause a lot of questions from others (“Why did you name him Fisher if you’re going to call him Jack?”) but maybe that doesn’t bother them. Interestingly, it seems Fulton Sheen was named Peter John but called Fulton (his mom’s maiden name), so they have a precedent to follow!

— Christina’s absolutely right that Austin is a medieval variant of Augustine, just like Bennett is a medieval variant of Benedict, so it does have impeccable credentials. I don’t think most people know that though, so I don’t think it comes across as obviously saintly. Which is fine, if they’re okay with that!

— I love Cooper for them, I think it’s my favorite of their ideas! I mean, I think the intention is the most important thing, and wrangling spellings to fit intentions doesn’t always work, so if they intend for Cooper to be for St. Joseph of Cupertino, then it is! I don’t suppose Christina’s hubs would go for the full Cupertino? I like it with Shepherd and Becket! And the Cooper as a nickname can be spelled whatever way. They could also look for another way to get to the nickname Coop — something like Colin Patrick or Conrad Pierce could make sense of it — but then you’d lose your Gray. Ooh! What about Joseph Gray — Joseph for St. Joseph Cupertino — nicknamed Coop? Sort of like my Fisher nicknamed Jack idea above? I’m kind of loving that!

— Fulton’s a great name! I think maybe a good nickname could make them feel better about it? I posted a bunch here (check the comments too); I think Fulton Xavier nicked Fox is my favorite! (They do lose their Gray, but maybe Christina’s husband would be okay with Xavier in the middle?)

— Ever since this reader shared with me that she knows a little Pierce named for Our Lady (her heart would be pierced with a sword), I’ve loved it! Yes, it’s a form of Peter, and as for using two family names — that’s totally up to them! I used two family names for most of my boys, but that kind of thing is important to my family. If Christina’s family would be upset, then they definitely shouldn’t!

— I’m laughing that Xavier is too strange for Christina’s hubs but Shepherd and Becket aren’t! in 2015, Shepherd wasn’t even in the top 1000 names given to boys in America, and Beckett (that spelling) was no. 218 (Becket wasn’t in the top 1000) … while Xavier was no. 90! It’s definitely not a strange name these days, Catholic or not, and I’m sorry to say it’s losing a bit of its Catholic-only cachet as it becomes more broadly popular. That said, I think it still has a lot of saintliness attached to it.

— I like Cade, James, Patrick, and Sawyer as well (and Sawyer is a style match for BOTH Becket and Shepherd, according to the Baby Name Wizard [which lists for each entry boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity]!! No wonder they like it!). I will say that using the more unusual Gray — which has more of the feel of Shepherd and Becket to me — as a middle name makes me really love the idea of a more traditional first name for the first name, so I’m interested to see James and Patrick on their list of names they like. James Gray and Patrick Gray are both really handsome, and mirror the style of Shepherd Gerald and Becket George, but flipped. I wonder if using a more unusual nickname for a common first name would help? James could be … Jay? Not that that’s all that unusual … hmm … I can’t think of any others! For Patrick, the surname Patton is derived from Patrick … which also sounds like paten … perhaps Patrick called Paten (for a Catholic feel) or Patton (if they just like the sound)! I’ve also seen Packy and Patch used as nicknames for Patrick — Pack is just like Jack, so I could see them liking that … but is it too similar to Beck? I also knew a Patrick called Trick. My idea above of Joseph Gray nicked Coop also fits in with this idea.

Additional ideas I had that I thought they might like are:

(1) Kolbe
Like Becket, this is a saintly surname (for St. Maximilian Kolbe), and both the last-name-as-first-name style and the natural nickname Kole seem perfect as a brother to Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck!

(2) Miles
I think Miles can have a surname-y feel, and I’ve talked a bit on the blog about its faith-y connections: it’s got traditional usage in Ireland as an anglicization of Maolmhuire, which means “servant of the Virgin Mary” — I love a masculine Marian name!

(3) Gilmore
Gilmore was actually inspired by one of the names the BNW said is a style match for Shepherd: Gibson. It means “son of Gilbert,” and I almost included it in my suggestions, but I was finding myself wishing the “Gil” part from Gilbert was included, and then I remembered Gilmore! Like Miles, it’s a Marian name — and it actually means the same thing! In this case, it’s an anglicization of Gillamhuire, and I love the nickname Gil! My only hesitation is Gilmore Gray — I don’t mind it objectively, but I do think it calls Gilmore Girls to mind pretty strongly.

(4) Hawthorn(e)
My last idea is Hawthorn (or Hawthorne), which can also be considered Marian —
one of Our Lady’s French titles is Notre Dame de l’Aubépine (Our Lady of the Hawthorn)! I think Hawthorn’s a really cool, unusual name for a boy, and I know of one family who used it and decided on Hawk as a nickname, and I also love the idea of Thorn(e).

And those are my ideas! What name(s) would you suggest for Shepherd/Shep and Becket/Beck’s little brother?


55 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Saintly surname style for third brother

  1. My absolute favorite for them is Fisher. It ties the other two names together so nicely! That one has my vote. Fish isn’t a bad name, if it is short for something.

    Kolbe is nice too.

    This might be too unusual for them, but Livingston could work. From 1 Peter 2:4-5. Jesus and his disciples are living stones. Nickname could be Stone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE their sons’ names! All the heart-eye emojis from me! I personally think Fisher is the best option from their list–Fisher Gray is such a handsome name. But what about Bennet(t)? Or Gardiner/ Gardner? That could be Biblical, in the same way as Shepherd or Fisher–Adam/mankind is meant to be a gardener…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the fact that Christina is worried about her son’s name beeing “too secular”! 🙂
    My favorites for them are Xavier and Kolbe, but maybe they could consider Aquinas or Neri (for St. Philip Neri)?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What about Martin, after Louis and Zelie? Nicknamed Marty? Or Art?
    Some other ideas that might work: Pio, Drexel, Ignatius nn Nash, Seton (Yes, I know 2 of those are after female saints, but people seem to do it the other way all the time. This seems like the type of family that might be up for it.)

    I really don’t like the flow of Pierce Gray, which might be what’s holding them up.

    And I had to look up what a “rushnyk” is… sorry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your Ignatius “Nash” suggestion! Not sure my husband will go for Ignatius, but I actually just texted it to him! Yes, and the double one syllable of Pierce Gray is what just does not work unfortunately. Unless you are Eastern European, I would not think you would know what a rushnyk was! So, no problem! Haha

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ooh, I love their taste in names! To my ear, Conrad sounds like another name that could fit in with that sib set.

    As a side note, I’ve always found Hawthorn(e) an intriguing name, and I am really excited to see it has a Marian connection!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love Fisher for them since they seem to love it and because it sounds great with the brothers’ names – if they don’t like Fin (I do!!) or Fish (not ideal to me either…), I think Fitz is a good option just because of the similar sounds.

    And I love your suggestion of Kolbe nn Kole/Cole. Fits really well with their other boys, both the full names and the nicknames. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think Cooper is my favorite. I wouldn’t worry about the spelling. It is completely legit to spell it Cooper. Besides, if his name is spelled Cuper, the pronounciation would be less obvious. You might have strangers call him “cupper” or think it’s a variation of Cupid. The Coop nickname makes sense and goes great with his brothers nicknames. What a clever way to honor a saint and anytime someone asks you why you chose the name, it would have a great explanation. To be honest, I was really impressed with all of the names you have brainstormed. I look forward to hearing what you decide on when the baby comes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is exactly what my husband said…’people will call him cupper’! After Kate mentioning intention is the most important thing, Cooper is one of the front runners now. Just need to meet him to see what fits best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! If he is named Cooper and ppl ask why you chose the name, you would say, after st. Joseph of Cupertino. I will guarantee you no one is going to say, “but isn’t Cupertino spelled C-U-P-E-R?” No one.
        I am happy to hear this one is still in the running. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. St. John Fisher is one of my favorite saints (we even got to see a relic of his last year!), so I really hope Christina’s husband can warm up to it. Fisher Gray sounds amazing especially with the rest of her set!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve never plugged my own kid’s name but I think it might possibly be a match for y’all. He has a different first and first middle name, but his third name is Peregrine. He’s a saint (patron of cancer patients) and there are also nice overtones to birds (the falcon), outdoorsiness, the wandering path of faith, etc. We went Tolkien and nicknamed him Pippin, and he still prefers that or Pip. (He’s only four.) But it covers your nature interest, nods subtly to saintliness and is unusual without being insane (maaaaaaybe).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Love their style 🙂 Miles is a great suggestion! I like thier idea of Fulton also. Coleman is another saint name that sounds surnamey. Can’t wait to hear how they go.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What about Solomon NN Sol or Solly? Or Wolfe/Wolf/Wolff
    Thise are the names that came to mind for me because so many of our family names were mentioned in this post
    Our surname is their oldest’s first name. .and both my husband and eldest son were in the defence forces and NN Shep
    And their first name is Joseph and second name Wolfe (a family surname)
    As a child out son did get some teasing comments from his friends about his middle name but he loves it now and regrets not passing it on to his son.
    His partner’s surname is Solomon. I love it as a first name.
    We have a grandson Cooper Patrick NN Coops..
    I agree about Gray as a first name..I think it’s lovely. (A tenuous link here but my maiden name was Graham lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Martin…. a surname of an incredible Catholic family. Martin Gray works, and it goes together with the siblings: Shepherd, Becket and Martin.

      Other ideas… Sailor. This reminds me of the Apostles being out on the boat with Jesus, and of Jonah’s story. It sounds in vogue like Shepherd and reminds me of all the baby boys currently being named Hunter. I guess sailors have various reputations that make this undesirable, but if intention trumps that then…. well Sailor Gray is cute.

      The Forty Martyrs or England could also provide a long list of possible Catholic surname inspiration… Arrowsmith, Barlow, Rigby etc. Campion Gray would be awesome, so strongly Catholic to those in the know 😉 while those in the secular world will be completely oblivious…. he’d just need a better nn than Camp! Maybe Gray could be the nn…?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love Kolbe nicknamed Cole for you. I also really like Peregrine nn Perry. Another name that came to mind was Drexel, after Katherine Drexel. My favorite nn would be Dex.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Another idea: since Gray is your husband’s middle name, how about using Grayson as a first name with a traditional middle name (like Gerald and George)? Something like Grayson James, Grayson Patrick, Grayson Francis? (I’m thinking really catholic middle name, Jude, Benedict, Sebastian, John, Paul, Peter?).

    This way you get to honour your husband, keep the G initial but open up for future children to have other middle initials (in case you run out of g names), keep the “fun” first name + classic middle name combo.

    Shep, Beck and Gray. I looove it.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Love your boys’ names! One suggestion I haven’t seen mentioned yet — Foster. Another surname-name, similar sounding to Fisher but possibly with a more usable short form, “Fos”? Personally I think Fos is super cute. Foster has a great faith meaning (like Shepherd) in the sense of taking care of something, strengthening, bringing out the good, and Foster also connects especially with St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus.

    Regarding Cooper for St. Joseph of Cupertino, I totally agree it’s only the intent that matters and the actual name is free to be changed up to whatever meets circumstances best! I am currently pregnant with #2 who will most likely be Sienna, with St. Catherine of Siena as a namesake even though the saint’s name is Catherine and the place only has one N =)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I really like Clement nicknamed Clem for them. Clem has a similar sound (with a short e) as Shep and Beck, plus it’s definitely a Catholicky name without being too out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Also, if you like the nickname Gus but your husband doesn’t like Augustine, perhaps he’d like Fergus? He’s a great saint, and it kind of sounds like you combined Augustine and Fulton.

    Liked by 2 people

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