Baby name consultation: Name for baby no. 3/boy no. 2 that ideally moves away from the English theme

Beth and her husband are expecting their third baby and second boy! He joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“each are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo so it was a win win“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 4 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as Protestant convert“)

I love both Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate — they’re so classic and sort of sophisticated, but also sweet. ❤

Beth writes,

I love both of [my children’s] names and knew the minute the ultrasound revealed their gender that that would be their name. Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them. Both are strongly English names, which was not intentional. I feel like this has pigeonholed us into having to keep the English theme up, even though it wasn’t important to us. In fact we would rather that not be a consideration at all. Also, both start with “C” as does my husband’s name, and that was also not intentional and not at all something we want to continue. Lastly, I have a thing about nicknames — since my name is just Beth, I have always been sensitive to naming my children with a longer name and then nicknaming them the shorter name we use. But also I love their longer name if they want to use it or a variation some day.

For a girl, we were going to use either Rosemary or Teresa (Tessa). I love both of these names (both have Saint and deep family connection for us), but I don’t love any of our boy names. We are out of family boy names and Saints that would work for naming.

First, names I can’t/won’t use for various reasons (I put a * by ones I really like and would consider if possible):

James* (I love James largely because it was my grandpa’s name, but it’s already in the family this generation and, in addition, my husband doesn’t care for it or my nickname, Jamie)
Jack*
Benjamin (Ben)*
Will (William)*
Caleb (C name)*
John
Alexander*
Matthew
Vincent
Daniel
Eli/Elijah
Isaac/Isaiah
Aaron
David
Brian
Graham
Adam
Levi
Joseph (family name I would consider for a middle name)
Augustine
Micah
Timothy
Max (all its forms)
Dominic
George
Ignatius
Jude
Peter
Paul
Philip
Thomas
Nathan
Sebastian
Michael
Zachary
Arthur

Names we like (none that really stand out to us):
Henry
Samuel
Gabriel (Gabe)
Leo (I’m leaning away from this one)
Benedict (I love this for a middle due to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom my husband and I both like a lot, but I’m afraid it’s too heavy for a first name)
Andrew (my husband doesn’t care for the nicknames Andy or Drew which seem to rule this out)
Theodore (Theo) (probably not)
Thaddeus (Thad) (again, probably not)

Saints in our heavenly family (and reasons why this list isn’t helpful):
St. Raymond Nonnatus (notable that my grandpa’s name was James Raymond, and he went by Raymond, but I don’t actually like Raymond despite loving the man dearly)
St. David (My husband’s dad’s name coincidentally; we don’t really want to do first names for grandparents though)
St. Catherine of Siena (honored with my daughter’s name)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (ditto)
St. Charles Borromeo (Son’s name)

I feel like I have read every baby name book and consultation you’ve done, and I just can’t come up with what this little boy’s name is. The hardest part are the names we can’t use that I love. We need help!

While reading Beth’s email, I was struck by how she said, “Both of these names are uniquely “our family” names; if my husband and I had not married each other, we would never had had children with these names and I love that sense of belonging for them,” which is such an amazing thought, isn’t it?

I was also interested that Beth said she feels a bit pigeonholed into keeping up the English theme, and that she’d rather that not be a consideration. Unfortunately, a lot of the names that seem like good ideas for her and her hubs fit very nicely into an English theme! Fortunately both Charles and Catherine — and the names on my list of suggestions below — have saintly ties that really pull them out of the realm of strictly English names and place them in the “saint’s name” category, which really opens up their possibilities. In fact, I would encourage them to start trying to re-categorize Charlie and Cate’s names in their minds as “super saintly” rather than “English” — I think that will help them moving forward. Both St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena were Italian saints, after all! And Catherine is also the French spelling of her name (as well as an English spelling, of course), so focusing on those characteristics will be helpful I think. If they’re just feeling very tied to the English feel, they could try reframing them as “royal” — Charles and Catherine would fit in with the royalty of many countries!

I’m with Beth on no more C names, at least not for this baby — three really does seem to make a definitive statement, so doing a non-C name for baby no. 3 would probably be best if they don’t want to continue with C names. I also love that they’d prefer a longer name with an everyday nickname — I too am a huge fan of options!

I love both Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa and used both of those as additional inspiration when doing research for this family, though I focused more heavily on trying to find names that were similar to the boy names that they like. I wouldn’t worry too much about not having any more saints that they’d like to honor — I often find that parents are introduced to a saint through the naming of their baby, almost as if the saint found them! (I wrote about saints finding us here.)

I had a couple thoughts about the names they like but can’t or won’t use that might be helpful:

  • James: I wonder if a different nickname than Jamie would both help Beth’s husband warm up to the name and differentiate their son’s name enough from the other family member(s) with the name? My first thought was Jake — James and Jacob are the same name (James is the Latin, Jacob is the Hebrew), so there’s an actual connection between James and Jake; additionally, Jake is so similar to the Jack that they like but can’t use that it might really be a good option for them. To make Jake as a nickname for James even stronger, they could consider a middle name with a strong K sound — I’ve been crushing on James Kolbe for a while, for example. Or James paired with hubby’s hard-C first name! What a nice nod to both Beth’s hubby and her grandpa!
  • Because they have Benjamin on the list of names they like but won’t use, and Benedict on the list of names they’re considering but think it might be too heavy for a first name, I wonder what they’d think of Bennett? It’s a medieval variant of Benedict, so it can absolutely be a nod to our Pope Emeritus (I love him too!), but it’s not heavy like Benedict and of course it can take the nickname Ben like both Benjamin and Benedict.

Regarding the names on their list:

  • Henry: Love it, such a sweet name and there are so many great Sts. Henry (I spotlighted it here). If they really want to move away from the English feel, this is perhaps not a great option (but it would fit in so well!).
  • Samuel: This is a great option from the perspective that it doesn’t have an overly English feel, and I love the nickname Sam, it’s a great fit with Charlie and Cate.
  • Gabriel: One of my very favorites, I love it!
  • Leo: Another one I love, and one we strongly considered. St. Leo the Great is an amazing patron saint.
  • Benedict: Discussed above.
  • Andrew: If Andy and Drew are the obstacles to this name, maybe considering a different nickname would help? I’ve see Ace used for Andrew, for example. Or maybe something with the middle name … Andrew Benedict nicknamed Abe? Andrew Joseph nicknamed AJ?
  • Theodore: The Leo/Theo names are rising in popularity, so I’m not surprised to see Theo(dore) on their list! Though I love Leo, I can see how Theodore might appeal to Beth more, since it’s longer and provides more options.
  • Thaddeus: I love the name Thaddeus, and Tad/Taddy is my favorite nickname for it, though I do know a Thaddeus nicknamed Thad, and another who goes by Ted.

And a thought about St. Raymond: I wonder what Beth and her hubs would think of Redmond? It’s a variant of Raymond (via the Irish variant Reamann, which Redmond is an anglicization of), so it can nod to Beth’s grandpa and St. Raymond, but I think it feels a bit fresher, and I personally think Red is one of the cutest nicknames.

Okay! On to my additional suggestions. I looked up all the names Beth and her husband have used and like (even if they can’t/won’t use them) in the Baby Name Wizard, as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. I also went through my own mental files, and came up with a list of possibilities that I then cross-checked against their list of names they can’t/won’t use. Based on all that, these are my ideas:

(1) Louis
Okay, I’m just going to jump right out there with an overtly English name! Louis just did so well for this family in my research that I can’t not suggest it, and although it’s the new prince’s name (I know! I totally get why they might not want to use it!), it’s more a French name I would think, and St. Louis de Montfort is awesome, as is St. Louis Martin.

(2) Luke
Luke did really well for this family in my research, being similar to Cate, Gabriel, and Jack. I consider Luke to be a Marian name, since his gospel is the most Marian, which I love. One fairly big negative in this case is that it’s not a long name, like Beth would prefer, but it is a full name in its own right.

(3) Nicholas
I really like Nicholas for this little guy. It’s not obviously English, and it has the great nicknames Nick, Nicky, and Nico, as well as Cole, which is adorable but since it starts with a C, I can see why they might not prefer it. They can certainly use St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus) as patron, and he’s wonderful, but I love St. Nicholas Owen, and the fact that he was English is, I think, a selling point here rather than a negative, because if Beth and her hubs ever decided they love the English feel after all, Nicholas can fit right in. At the same time, I don’t think people think “English/British” when they hear it at all. A nice option! There’s also Pope St. Nicholas the Great.

(4) Edmund, Edward
I know, these are probably too English for Beth, but they’re amazing matches for their style! Edward is a match for Charles, Catherine, Henry, and William, and Edmund for Benedict and Theodore. St. Edmund Campion is amazing; St. Edward the Confessor is amazing; and the traditional nicknames for both Edmund and Edward — Ed(die), Ned, and Ted — are really sweet (and Ted can also be used for Theodore and Thaddeus, which makes me feel even more that they might like this idea). I’ve also seen Ward used as a nickname for Edward, which is a fun, unexpected twist.

(5) Bartholomew
Bartholomew is similar in feel to Benedict and Thaddeus, and one of the interesting things about it is that when I was reading A Dictionary of English Surnames (by Reaney & Wilson), it seemed to me that Bartholomew was a strong contender for the name from which came more English surnames than any other. There are so many! And many of them would work wonderfully as given names, or as nicknames for Bartholomew. Bart is the most familiar choice these days, but Bartlett, Batten, and Bates are all variants that I love as possible nicknames (though probably not Bates as a brother to Cate, right?). (I wrote more about my findings from that book here.)

(6) Robert
Robert is a style match for both James and William, and it really came on my radar when I encountered a couple of people, unrelated to each other, who loved the nickname Bo and wanted to find a formal name for it. Both considered Robert, and I thought Robert nicknamed Bo was a really cute idea! I also like both Robbie and Bobby, they’re such sweet nicknames. St. Robert Bellarmine was an Italian saint, like St. Charles Borromeo and St. Catherine of Siena, which is a cool connection.

(7) Gregory
As I mentioned, I didn’t give as much weight to the style matches for Rosemary and Teresa/Tessa as I did the boys’ names, but when I saw Gregory listed as a style match for Teresa, I thought it was a great suggestion. St. Gregory the Great is an awesome saint and was a pope (just like St. Leo the Great and St. Nicholas the Great), and while Greg has fallen somewhat out of fashion as a nickname, others have arisen in its place, like Grey and Gus (especially if paired with an S-heavy middle name — Gregory Stephen? Gregory Samuel? Gregory James? Gregory Joseph?) and Rory.

(8) Nathaniel or Jonathan
I’m including these two together, at the end, because they both have issues that might be insurmountable, but I like them both for this family. I know they have Nathan on the list of names they can’t/won’t use, but I wondered how they’d feel about Nathaniel? It’s a match for Gabriel, Thaddeus, Benjamin, and Alexander, and if they dislike the nickname Nate, there’s also Nat and I’ve seen Nash as well, which is fun. Jonathan also contains “Nathan,” and starts with Jon, and John is on their can’t use list, so I can see why they might not like it, but it’s a long biblical name like Benjamin, Alexander, and Thaddeus, and — Beth will probably hate me for saying this! — one of its traditional nicknames (which has mostly British use! So sorry!) is Jonty, which I’ve just been dying over — SO cute!!

And those are my ideas for Beth and her husband! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charles/Charlie and Catherine/Cate?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon! It’s a perfect for expectant mamas, baby showers, and just because. 🙂 If you feel moved to leave a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated!

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13 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Name for baby no. 3/boy no. 2 that ideally moves away from the English theme

  1. Lucas nn Luke
    Michael
    Matthew
    Dominic
    Philip
    Henry nn Hank
    Victor
    Martin
    Blaise

    My favorite for them is Martin. It’s saintly and goes with Charles without feeling too English.

    Like

  2. I think that Dominic would be the perfect name, if it weren’t on the “No” list.

    I do know (young) brothers named Charlie, Sam, and Frankie.

    Also, in the German American immigrant community, Charlie and Catherine were both popular. As were Frank (super popular) and Rosemary. So maybe your theme is more German than British 🙂

    Like

  3. I have a comment re: unusable names that you like. I know this probably isn’t a popular opinion but my husband and I believe that if you truly love a name, you should be able to use it, even if friends or relatives have used the name. I mean… is it the worst thing in the world to have cousins or friends have the same name? When we hear others have used names that we’ve chosen, we say, “Well we have the same great taste!”
    This may or may not be helpful to you. Because I think your list of “unusable” names has some wonderful ones in it. I do think Kate came up with some great alternative ideas!

    Like

  4. I like the ideas of Louis, Gregory, Edward and Robert. Charlie, Cate and Ned / Bo / Gus would be adorable

    Francis nicknamed Finn or Frank / Frankie also came to mind

    Otherwise, maybe Raphael, Frederick or Arthur? (Rafe / Raphie / Raff / Philo, Freddie / Fred / Fox, Artie / Art / Bear)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We have a James that we call by his full name as well as Jay. When the kids tried to call him Jamie as a baby I put them in time out. It was sort of a family joke but I definitely had a zero tolerance policy as I have a female cousin with the name Jamie.

    We also have Andrew who is neither Andy or Drew. We do call him by a pet name unrelated to his actual name.

    I don’t find Charles or Catherine all that British in feel as they’re long time favorites here in America.

    Liked by 1 person

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