Katy and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big siblings:
John Ryan “Jack”
Timothy Robert “Tim”
Fantastic names. They’re all solid and attractive, and I also keep chuckling at “Tim” for her 3-year-old (as opposed to Timmy) — it’s such a serious nickname for a little guy! I find serious names on little ones to be so charming. Katy and her hubby have done a great job!
“I’d describe our naming style as Classic/Apostolic with a hint of early-20th-century-British feel. For boys, we like names that are timeless, masculine and friendly; names that we feel will suit them well in all ages and stages of life. My husband feels that we need to stick to a biblical name in line with the Apostles/early church missionaries for all the boys’ names to flow. While I’m certainly willing to consider apostolic names, I would also really like for us to explore names that are still classic but have a bit of a British literary feel. (I majored in English Lit!) We have a very common last name, but as it is Welsh in origin, it automatically lends well to classic, 20th century British names. Ideally, we’d also like to choose a name that has a saintly connection but is not too popular right now.
One challenge [we have is] … a large extended family full of males; Hubby has 9 uncles and numerous male cousins. So, as you can imagine, it’s tough not to repeat names. Although they were not named after extended family members, our third and fourth children … have first AND middle names that also belong to [family members]. After our fourth was born, we could sense all of our parents had some hurt feelings … that we didn’t choose either of our dad’s names.”
I’m sure many of us have experienced similar situations! Though Katy and her husband wouldn’t normally have thought to choose family names on purpose, they certainly don’t want their dads (James and Patrick) to feel hurt:
“To that end, we’ve discussed ‘James Patrick,’ as a double, like a ‘Mary Double.’ I’d rather not use ‘Patrick James,’ as this is Hubby’s dad’s name exactly … I know ‘James’ is a super popular name in the U.S. right now, so I like the idea of doubling it up with Patrick so it’s more of a standout. But ‘James Patrick’ would be a lot for a kiddo to say when introducing himself, and I don’t particularly love initial nicknames like ‘JP.’ (Although I do love Saint JPII!) Plus, I feel like we can’t use James without Patrick and visa versa without hurt feelings.
I’d really like our new son to have his own identity! Anyway — I’d love to know … if ‘James Patrick’ as a double first name is Catholic Baby Name overkill.”
(“Catholic Baby Name overkill”! Is there such a thing?? 😂😂😂)
“Other names we’ve discussed:
– We both love the name Albert. However, we don’t want to use it as a first name since we already have two kiddos with ‘A’ names. So we’re strongly considering Albert as a middle name.
– Charles/Charlie seems like a logical fit for our crew, which is a classic and manly name with some boyish charm. But, for whatever reason, we don’t feel excited about it.
– Hugh, which I really love! But I can’t sell Hubby on it.
– Lawrence nn Laurie, like Theodore Lawrence in Little Women! But, again, can’t sell the husband on it — I think he’d settle for Lawrence as is if I really pushed for it, but the “Laurie” nickname is too much of a style departure for him. I loved the post you did last year that outlined modern nicknames for Lawrence! But nicknames like ‘Law’ or ‘Rence’ definitely aren’t our style. (But maybe you have a different perspective.)
– Louis, but again, we don’t feel excited about it.
Names we can’t or won’t use:
Dominic (Hubby is discerning a calling to become a lay Dominican, but we don’t feel like the name fits our style)
Ernest (love this name, but it’s the name of our cat!)
Alrighty, so I have some thoughts on how Katy’s hubby “feels that [they] need to stick to a biblical name in line with the Apostles/early church missionaries for all the boys’ names to flow,” as well as Katy’s hope to “explore names that are still classic but have a bit of a British literary feel,” but first I’ll address the idea of James Patrick.
Many people have deep seated feelings of love-shown-by-honoring-family-with-names, and it’s a very traditional practice in many cultures (examples: Irish, English, Italian, Scottish) and so has deep roots in many people’s psyche, so I think it’s really wonderful that Katy and her hubs are trying to be sensitive to that. I really like Katy’s proposed solution of James Patrick as a double name, and I definitely don’t think it’s “Catholic Baby Name” overkill, haha! If Mary Clare and John Paul can do it without raised eyebrows, James Patrick should be just fine. I think they might run into some trouble enforcing it, which they’ll have to decide if they’re up for dealing with or not, but if they’re up for it, great! I’d love to meet a little James Patrick.
That said, I wanted to try to think of additional ways that they could give their baby “his own identity,” in case some fresh ideas are helpful:
- Nickname Jay: I’m assuming Katy’s dad goes by Jim, given that that’s the standard nickname for Jameses of a certain age, so coming up with a different nickname could be the way to let her little guy have his own name space. Jay is my favorite idea for this family in this vein — I think it fits what Katy said they like for boys: names that are “timeless, masculine and friendly.”
- Nickname Jamie: I have a friend who is James always and everywhere except with his family, who calls him Jamie, and it comes across as the sweetest, most affectionate nickname.
- Nickname Rick(y): I’m sure Katy’s father-in-law Patrick doesn’t go by Rick or Ricky, so maybe using it as an unexpected nickname for Patrick (even with Patrick being the middle name) could be their son’s alone?
- Nickname Paddy: Again, I’m guessing it’s very unlikely Katy’s father-in-law goes by Paddy — it’s not everyone’s style, but I find it sweet.
- Using different variants: Like James Padraig or Seamus Patrick, if they were into Irish names (Iago is the Welsh variant of James, oh my!). Jacob and James are variants of the same name, so Jacob should work as an honor name for a James in theory. Maybe Jameson or Patton (son of James, and an English surname derived from Patrick, respectively).
- Nickname Junior or Chip (or similar): Patrick and James are actually Katy’s husband’s two middle names (or maybe middle and Confirmation name?), so they could possibly think of using something like Junior as a nickname, or Chip (like “chip off the old block”). I think those kinds of nicknames (others: Red, Sonny) have such a friendly feel. (I also wrote about Junioring a non-firstborn here.)
So based on the emotions tied up in the naming of this baby, I was a little hesitant to discuss the other names Katy and her hubs like, or to offer new ideas, because I don’t want to make their decision more difficult! But I have always enjoyed name conversations, even if I was sure what we would name our baby, so I’d like to go back to Hubby’s thought that they need to stick with biblical names (specifically Apostles or early Church missionaries) in order for the baby’s name to fit with his brothers’ names. I definitely don’t think he needs to worry about that. You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have already used and those they like in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) as it lists, for each entry, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity (informed by a computer program developed by the author — it’s uncannily accurate!). Names that are similar to John, Timothy, and Andrew include names like Charles, William, Robert, Henry, and Christopher — none of which are biblical (though an argument could be made for Christopher to be technically biblical, in terms of the idea of the name/who it refers to) — which tells me (and I felt this anyway, before looking up the names) that John, Timothy, and Andrew have been used in so many circumstances and cultures and given to so many boys/men, both famous and not, that the biblical association is not the primary association for most people. In a family with John/Jack, Amelia, Timothy, and Andrew, I would find names Charles, William, Robert, Henry, and Christopher to be a natural fit. Especially since their real overarching theme is “saintly,” and all of those names fit. I know William, Henry, and Christopher are on the list of names Katy said they can’t use, and they’re already considering Charles, and Robert is already Tim’s middle name, which actually leads me to another idea for them: maybe instead of thinking that each of their boys so far has a biblical *first* name, and specifically one that’s an Apostle’s or early Church missionary’s name, they could reframe their thinking as, “each of our boys has at least one biblical name,” and if they reframe their thinking that way, they can see how it would be natural to move to, “each of our boys has at least one biblical name in either the first or middle name spot.” So then something like Charles James could be argued to fit into what they’ve already done: a biblical name in the first or middle spot, and a first name that’s stylistically consistent with their other boys’ names.
As for Katy’s hope to “explore names that are still classic but have a bit of a literary British feel,” it was so fun to see Albert, Hugh, and Lawrence (Laurie!) on her list! So unexpected! I love that Katy said both she and her husband love Albert, and it seems like the perfect middle name — a way of placing their stamp on their baby’s name. Also, Katy mentioned that her husband is discerning a call to the Dominican Third Order — St. Albert the Great is one of the very best Dominican Saints! Something like James Patrick Albert could be really wonderful. As for the other names:
- Charles/Charlie: I one hundred percent agree that this “seems like a logical fit for [their] crew.” I also like that it’s not a biblical name that still fits really well with their other kids’ names, which can open up more possibilities for them for the future. However, if they can’t get excited about it, then let’s keep looking!
- Hugh: Aw, I love Hugh too. One of the names that showed up a few times in my research is Hubert, which is such a perfect combination of Albert and Hugh that I wondered if they’d like to consider it? There are a few holy Huberts.
- Lawrence nn Laurie: What girl doesn’t love Laurie from Little Women?! But I think most men (or most men I know, anyway) would have a hard time with Laurie for a boy these days, so sad. Yeah, I agree that Law and Rence aren’t this family’s style. I wonder if they could combine some of their ideas here, like Lawrence with the nickname Lou, for example? Like Lawrence and Louis together? I also like the idea of Rory for them as a nickname for Lawrence — especially with Jack and Tim, Rory would feel natural to me, as all three have a vaguely (and with Rory not-so-vaguely) Irish feel.
- Louis: I wonder if Katy would feel more excited about it if they changed the spelling to Lewis? Doing so totally amps up the British literary feel, and I thought this bit from this birth announcement post for a little Lewis might be helpful — the mom wrote that she “always disliked the name Louis, and I still do!! Isn’t that so weird? But Lewis is completely different to me. So balanced, with the consonants in the front, middle, and end, and no danger of being a ‘Louie.’ Even Lew is different from Lou — so literary and all.” And Lewis is the medieval English form of Louis, so it totally counts for any Sts. Louis that Katy and her hubs might have a particular devotion to.
So Katy and her husband have a lot of great ideas! But of course, I can always come up with more ideas! Using the research I did in the BNW that I mentioned above, as well as the Name Matchmaker tool on babynamewizard.com for the names that don’t have their own entries in the book, and then some other ideas that just seemed right for this family, these are additional ideas they might like to consider for this baby or for future babies:
(1) Philip nicknamed Pip
This is definitely my favorite idea for them outside of the names they’re already considering! It meets Hubby’s criteria for a New Testament name and it — but especially the nickname Pip — meets Katy’s criteria for a classic name with a British literary feel.
Paul doesn’t have the British literary feel like Philip/Pip does, but it certainly fits the biblical theme and I like that it’s one syllable like John, after the longer Timothy and Andrew.
Nicholas is another New Testament name that can fit with British/literary a la Nicholas Nickleby, for one. Nick is a great nickname that fits in well with Jack and Tim, and Cole and Colin can also work as nicknames if they wanted, and have more of a British-y feel I think.
(4) Alexander nn Alex, Sandy
Like Nicholas, Alexander is a New Testament name and it’s such a pan-European name that it can have whatever heritage one wants it to! I was also drawn to Alexander because of its nickname Sandy, which isn’t used so much anymore for boys, but was traditionally a boy’s nickname and might be more palatable than Laurie for Lawrence (I know a little Alexander nn Sandy and it’s super cute).
(5) Edward nn Ted, Ned, Ward
Edward totally has the British feel I think Katy likes, and Ward was also a style match for some of the names they like, which can be a nickname for Edward, so I thought that might be great! Ted and Ned are other Edward nicknames that they might like that I think can have a very British feel.
Speaking of Ted, Theodore seemed to me to maybe be a nice bridge between the biblical names and the British names … it’s not biblical in the sense that it doesn’t appear in the bible as a name, but Theophilus does, which I think adds a biblical sheen to Theodore if they want it to because of the shared “Theo,” and of course its meaning “gift of God” can be biblical, or “biblical adjacent,” maybe, like Christopher.
I enjoyed seeing Gilbert show up as a style match for Katy and her hubs — they already have Albert on their list, and I suggested Hubert as well, so maybe they don’t need another -bert name to consider, but Gilbert’s entry at Behind the Name really made it seem like a name they would like: “The Normans introduced this name to England, where it was common during the Middle Ages. It was borne by a 12th-century English saint, the founder of the religious order known as the Gilbertines” (there are other saints with the name as well). What a very English name! And there are few nickname I love more than Gil!
Finally, I was working on this on the feast of Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the second Master General of the Dominican Order (after St. Dominic), and one of his sermons is said to have brought St. Albert the Great into the Dominicans, so I thought it was perfect to finish this list with a nod to him! I know Jordan has a very modern, secular feel to it, but I love that it’s actually an old and very religious (and very Dominican) name.
And those are my ideas for this family! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother for John/Jack, Amelia, Timothy/Tim, and Andrew?
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 (not affiliate links) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life! (And check out my buy-the-book-get-a-consultation deal!)