(A day late due to illness! Winter, bah! I know I owe a bunch of you emails — I’m working through them, slowly but surely!)
I previously posted two birth announcements for Laura — here and here — and have had some great email conversations with her about names, so I’m thrilled to offer some name ideas for her! She and her husband aren’t currently expecting, but want to be ready if God blesses them again. ❤ Their children on earth are:
Katharine Rose (Kat, Kitty, Kate)
James Philip (Jay)
Gabriel John (Gabe)
Thomas Gregory (Tommy, T)
And their babies in heaven are:
Such solid, handsome/lovely, saintly names!
“Everyone has their own initial which is wonderfully convenient. It’s not exactly a rule but I do notice that I tend to worry about sibling names sounding to similar in beginning and ending sounds.
Luke and Rebecca are the names of our siblings so most likely not usable for first names for a baby.
I was originally opposed to nicknames but my husband loves a good nickname and tends to shorten any name he comes across.
A saint name is important to us probably for the first and the middle. We make a big deal out of feast days and typically if we go to daily Mass on the kids’ feast day it gets at least a passing mention. For the most part this requirement is easy because those are the names we like anyways, but we do both like Scott for example but it doesn’t meet that criteria.
First the boys-
A New Testament boys name would be obvious, but it feels like that well might be dry. Peter is probably our favorite of the remaining possibilities. Jude has floated off and on the list over the years.
I really love David! But having a James and Gabriel who frequently goes by Gabe in the same house is fairly confusing; I think we should pause before adding another name with a long A vowel.
As far as other Old Testament names goes. [Hubby] likes Samuel and Isaac but I don’t. Plus Sam and James seem a bit close for brothers. [Also,] Daniel is not usable for us.
When I was pregnant with Gabriel I strongly considered Henry. My husband likes Louis but I think it’s a bit fancy and the ending sounds match Thomas.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a girl. My husband’s favorite over those years has been Lucy. And I can give you a long list of why it’s an awesome name, but I’ve not talked myself into loving it. I thinks it’s perfect for someone else’s baby but maybe not my little girl.
Grace, Sarah and Nell are the other current names on our girls list.
Grace is a longtime favorite but seems so similar to Gabriel and Thomas’s name. One way to use it would be to call her Mary Grace.
Sarah is another name I’ve liked since childhood but it doesn’t seem as saintly as the other kids’ names and perhaps we know too many women my age name Sarah. It’s pretty but I worry that it’s not very interesting.
Nell is a name we’d both be excited to use which isn’t so easy to find. The trouble is that it’s really a nickname and we don’t care for the options for a full name. If we don’t use a full name like Helen the saintly connection is less obvious.
I also like names like Eve, Ruth, Stella and Frances but [hubby’s] pretty lukewarm towards those.”
I so enjoyed working on this for Laura! It’s so fun to have watched her family grow and to have followed her name thoughts through several babies.
I hadn’t realized until she pointed it out that all her living children have their own initial — that’s actually pretty amazing! It definitely informed some of my ideas for her — if they could keep that going, that would indeed be wonderfully convenient! I also really wanted to find some one-syllable names for her, since I know she really likes those; for my ideas that are longer than one syllable, I wanted to be sure they could shorten to a one-syllable name.
Speaking of, I’m so bummed they can’t use Luke! It would be perfect!
So I’ll address their boy parameters first. When Abby from Appellation Mountain did the consultation for me for my last baby, she noted that she found it somewhat difficult to come up with ideas for me because she knew that I’d likely considered All the Names through the years and could she really come up with something I hadn’t already considered? I feel similarly working on this for Laura, since I’ve “known” her for years on the Baby Name Wizard forums before here, and between there and our emails I know that she, too, has considered All the Names. So instead of coming up with ideas that I think she and her hubby might not have considered, I’m shooting for making strong arguments for my ideas such that they might take on a new sheen and come across as newly appealing.
But first, my thoughts on the boy names Laura said they like/have considered:
- Peter: Although Peter breaks their all-different-initials pattern, I kind of like that they started with Paul and might end with Peter — there’s something really pleasing about that to me. I wonder if they’ve considered Pierce? I like that it’s one syllable and not obviously biblical (while still being biblical), which opens up more options for this family for the future.
- Jude: Since they can’t use Luke, Jude seems the next best thing. I think Jude has more of a Gabriel feel than Peter, for example, which could be perfect.
- David: I’m not surprised at all that Laura loves David! A lot of her kids’ names had a strong peak in the 50s/60s, and David did as well. I have three Uncle Davids, two born in the 50s and one in the 60s — one has a brother Mark, one has a brother Stephen, and one has brothers Thomas and Jay! I can see what she means about the long A thing, though I know a family with three boys named Jacob, Nathaniel, and Gabriel: Jake, Nate, and Gabe. I definitely don’t think it’s problematic from an outsider’s perspective, unless it’s really confusing for Laura and her hubby and kids, which sounds like it might be. (That should probably be a consideration for Grace as well.)
- Samuel and Isaac: I’m not considering these as real possibilities since Laura doesn’t like them, but I probably would have suggested Samuel otherwise. Funny, I wouldn’t have thought Sam and James are too close, and I’ve been thinking about it since she first emailed, and I still don’t think they’re too close. But I totally get not being able to move past something like that!
- Henry: It’s a great name and is a good match for Laura’s girls’ names I think, both Clare and Katharine as well as Grace, Lucy, and Stella from their list of considerations. Being that it’s a great fit as a brother to Clare and Katharine, I like it for them — I’m always a fan of names that provide a bridge between different styles, or between the boys’ and girls’ names in a family.
- Louis: I’m laughing over Laura’s characterization of Louis as “a bit fancy”! I can see what she means. I can also see how she doesn’t like the matching endings of Thomas and Louis (but also, perhaps this is a consideration for Grace as well). It’s funny what rubs a person the wrong way, and what doesn’t.
- Scott: I had to look Scott up to see if there was any saintly connection that could be made! There’s a Bl. William Scott, which I loved discovering, as William was a name that I was going to include in my list of official suggestions anyway. I wonder what they would think of William Scott as a first+middle combo? Will is a nice, one-syllable nickname that would go great with the other kids, OR they could call him Scott from his middle!
And some thoughts on their girl names:
- Lucy: I love Lucy, which makes it easy for me to see why Laura’s hubby loves it. But I think maybe I can see why Laura doesn’t like it: it’s a very sweet name to me, very soft and darling, and while Clare especially approaches having a similar feel, its hard K sound gives it a little bit of a harder edge, which Katharine shares and even Grace more than Lucy. Eve, Ruth, and Frances from the list of names Laura likes don’t have the harder sound, but have a more severe *feel* I think, if that makes sense. Maybe what I’m trying to articulate is that whether sound-wise or style-wise, Laura’s not terribly into soft or frilly girl names. Do you agree, or do you think I’m way off?
- Grace: It’s beautiful and to the point, and I know Laura’s loved it for a long time. It starts with G and ends with S, so I can see why it strikes Laura as similar to Gabriel and Thomas, but I have to say that I don’t see them as all that similar. Laura has thought of the possible solution of Mary Grace, but I also know that’s has been problematic for her, since she’s never liked that Mark and Mary are only one letter different. I wonder what she’d think of Sarah Grace instead? Used as a double name, like Mary Grace would be? Laura would get to use two of her favorites, and it would move the whole first name away from Gabriel and Thomas. Sarah Grace (or Sarah-Grace, if they prefer) is very different from their other kiddos’ names to me, while still fitting in really well.
- Sarah: The idea of Sarah Grace would make Sarah feel more saintly (with Grace being so Marian) and give it a fresher feel so it wouldn’t feel so much like the women Laura’s (and my) age and would also make it feel more interesting. Could be a nice option! For what it’s worth, a friend of mine whose children are similar ages as mine had a baby girl the same month I had my Luke and named her Sarah. I was surprised, as I don’t usually hear Sarah on little girls, but pleasantly so!
- Nell: I came away from my first reading of Laura’s email DETERMINED to come up with formal name ideas for Nell that she might like. How fun that she and her hubby both love Nell!! I first have to be sure they’ve considered all the options: Nell works for any El- name (as I understand it, girls named Elizabeth, Eleanor, etc. would affectionately be called “Mine El,” which morphed over time into “My Nell” [this also happened with Ann(e) — “Mine Ann” became “My Nan,” and then also Nancy]). My favorite for Laura and her hubs is Elizabeth — it’s a great match with their other children’s names! Eleanor also works, which taps into the Henry/Louis feel and is great with Clare and Katharine. Of course I had to come up with some offbeat/unexpected ideas! One is Natalie. The initial N and the strong L makes Nell totally doable I think. Another possibility is Noelle — I know a little Noelle whose family calls Nelly. Christmas would be her feast day, and with “The First Noel/Nowell” there’s a chance she’d hear her name, like Laura’s other kids do on their feast days. Christmas can also work for Natalie, though there are also two Sts. Natalia that could be patron instead (though I don’t think they’d be mentioned at Mass on their feast days). I also like the idea of something like Nora Louise or Nora Lucy nn Nell. We’ve discussed Eleanor on the blog, which could be patron for Nora (whether through Helena, if they take Eleanor and Helena to be related, or through Bl. Archangela Girlani, whose birth name was Eleanor, or through Ven. Honora Nagle).
- Eve, Ruth, Stella, Frances: I’m glad Laura included these, as they gave me a fuller sense of her taste, though like with Samuel and Isaac, I’m not considering them realistic options because her husband doesn’t care for them. My only additional thought was, would they consider Francis for a boy?
- Theresa: Laura didn’t include Theresa, though I know she’s also loved it for a long time! I wonder if it’s off the table now that they have a Thomas? I did use Theresa as inspiration in my research.
Okay! In addition to Pierce, William Scott, Sarah Grace, Natalie/Noelle/Nora+L___ nn Nell, and Francis-for-a-boy, which were all based on ideas Laura and her husband already had, I also did my usual research for them in the Baby Name Wizard, which I’m assuming they’ve already done as well! But hopefully my take on these ideas might be worthwhile:
Laura didn’t mention Ann(e)/Anna anywhere, so maybe they’ve considered it and dismissed it? But Ann/Anne is a lovely, trim, one-syllable, super saintly name with a great patron and feast day that fits in really well with the older children! My only worry is that it might be too close to Andrew’s name?
I really wanted to come up with some ideas that were different than what Laura might normally think of, while still fitting in. Hope showed up a few times in my research in the BNW, being similar in style to Kate, Grace, and Eve. It’s a virtue and Marian name like Grace, but less familiar, and has such a lovely meaning.
Julia is so classic, feminine, and strong, I love it for this family. It can nickname to the one syllable Jules, but they could also do Jude, especially if they paired it with a D middle name. Could be a neat way to work Jude in!
In keeping with the midcentury feel of many of their favorites, Susan popped up a bunch of times: in the style matches for Mark, Thomas, and Peter, and in matches that also included Stephen, Philip, and Theresa. My mom was nearly named Susan, and her brothers share several names with Laura’s boys! Her mom really wanted to name her Susan, but her dad wanted to name her Anne, so they compromised with Susanne. Maybe that would be a combo (Susan+Anne) that Laura would also like? Or maybe Susanna, which is the saint’s name? (The most well-known St. Susanna’s feast day is the same as St. Clare’s, which could be cool or not cool for their Clare, and would also likely mean Susanna wouldn’t be mentioned at Mass. But there are other Sts. Susanna with different feast days!)
I included Scott in my research, since Laura and her husband both like it, and was interested to see that Bridget is a style match for it. It felt like a good suggestion for them! It’s got those harder sounds, like Clare and Katharine (and Paul, Mark, Becket, Patrick, and Thomas), and is Irish like Clare and Patrick, and has a great saint as patron. Bridge can be a one-syllable nickname, but I also love Bridie/Bridey.
Emily popped up enough in my research in the BNW that I couldn’t not include it: it’s a match for James, Andrew, Sarah, and Katie. There are actually a whole bunch of Blesseds and Saints that could be patron for Emily, including St. Emilie de Villeneuve, St. Emily de Rodat, and St. Emily de Vialar. I’m thinking Nell could also work as a nickname for Emily — it starts with E and has a prominent L, like Elizabeth and Eleanor, and something like Emily Louise could hammer that home.
(1) Matthew (or Matthias?)
They must have considered Matthew and decided against it, but it’s an obvious choice being that it’s a New Testament name and one of the evangelists. I’m quite taken with the idea of Matthew Scott called Scott, it’s one of my favorite ideas for this family. If they don’t care for Matthew’s ending being the same as Andrew, maybe Matthias could work? Like Jude, it has a little more of Gabriel’s vibe, and can shorten to Matt, or Matthias Scott could go by Scott.
This is another New Testament name that they must have considered and dismissed, but it’s such a good fit with Andrew and Gabriel especially, I think. Nick is a great, friendly nickname.
(3) Alexander (or Alan?)
Ditto Matthew and Nicholas — Alexander is a New Testament name that would fit in nicely with the older kids. Alex is also specifically a match for Kate and Sarah. I was also quite intrigued by how often Alan/Allen showed up in my research, being similar in style to Paul, Mark, Peter, and Theresa! We actually read about Bl. Alan de la Roche (aka Alan de Rupe) at my most recent Lay Dominican meeting, he’s a great patron. But I was thinking that of the Al- names, Alexander might be a better fit, since it’s biblical and specifically New Testament.
Speaking of biblical A names, Adam is another that did well for this family — it’s a match for Kate, Andrew, and Sarah. If they were open to venturing into the Old Testament (like David), Adam could be perfect. It’s not one syllable, but it’s nice and short. There are also some non-biblical holy Adams!
Venturing out of biblical territory altogether (like Henry and Louis), Martin is a match for Paul, Mark, Lawrence, Philip, Peter, and Theresa. Wow! Martin’s a great name with a lot of great patrons, and Marty’s a great nickname. Although, I’m thinking Laura probably won’t love that Mark and Martin would share their first three letters.
Grant is a match for Clare and Kate (and Emily and Hope), and I really wanted it to work for this family, since it’s a one-syllable name. We’ve talked a bit on the blog about it being able to nod to “grant us peace” in the Mass, and this site provides sixteen instances of the word “grant” in the bible, including in the New Testament, however I started cross checking them against the version on the Bishops’ site and “grant” isn’t used in it most of them. But it is used in Luke 1:73, so that’s cool!
And those are all my ideas for Laura and her husband! What do you all think? What names would you suggest for the little brother or sister of Paul, Clare, Mark, Katharine, James, Andrew, Gabriel, and Thomas?
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!