Baby name consultation: Familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic (+English royalty?) name for baby boy

I posted a consultation and birth announcement for Beth and her husband’s third baby a few years ago, and now they’re expecting their fifth baby/fourth baby on earth — a rainbow baby and their third boy! This little guy joins big sibs:

Charles (Charlie) Wilson (“Each of his are names of my husband and my grandfathers; we also ended up really liking St. Charles Borromeo, and Charlie has a special affinity for St. John Paul II — such a fun Charles connection“)

Catherine (Cate) Elizabeth (“There is lots of family history here as well as St. Catherine of Siena was my confirmation Saint when I joined the Church 7 years ago, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton has meant a lot to me as a fellow Protestant convert“)

Henry James (“Our first difficult naming! He was Samuel Benedict for most of his in utero life which led to a lot of confusion for our family! Henry for St. John Henry Newman, and James for my grandpa“)

Felicity Perpetua (“In heaven — her name came to me almost the day I found out I was pregnant. I knew in my heart from day 1 she was a girl, and I had never considered the name before, but it choose her. I miscarried her at 12 weeks, and we named her for the two best friend Saints who are remembered for not only their courageous martyrdom but also their tremendous motherhood“)

I love each of these combos and the reasons behind them, a really well-named bunch of kids!

Beth writes,

My husband and I just found out we are expecting a baby boy! And once again, we are a bit clueless about what to name him (you may remember doing our consultation for our third born, also a boy)

I had been concerned with Henry of continuing an English royalty theme, but in the end we just went with it, and he is very much Henry James. While I love all of my children’s names, I really love the beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua. I would love to find a boys name with similar resonance. It’s somehow a combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.

Boys names we have considered in the past include:

  • Leo
  • Luke
  • Benedict
  • Samuel
  • Julian
  • Gabriel

None of these names particularly stand out to me; I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before. Girls names we love include:

  • Teresa (Tessa)
  • Rosemary
  • Stella Maris

If this baby was a girl, she would have been one of the three above names for sure.

Names we cannot use due to family include:

  • William (I have always loved William)
  • Alexander
  • Vincent
  • David
  • Joseph
  • Jack
  • Daniel
  • John Paul
  • Isaac/Isaiah
  • Benjamin (this one makes Benedict problematic because he goes by Ben)
  • Matthew/Mathias
  • Eli/Elijah
  • Miles
  • Thomas
  • Nathan
  • Tobias

Thanks so much for your help! We have plenty of time (we aren’t due until October 13), but I would love to give this little boy a name. Let know if you need any more information or have any questions!

Alrighty! I read and re-read my most recent email conversation with Beth, and also the one she sent when I did the consultation for Henry, really trying to nail down exactly what she and her hubby are looking for, since the names that come to mind as a brother for Charles, Catherine, and Henry really do have a very English and/or royal feel to me, which is a vibe that I love, but I know that’s something Beth was hesitant to continue with Henry. The addition of their sweet Felicity Perpetua both strengthens the English feel (both Felicity and Perpetua can have a real Brit feel, depending on the context!) and also brings the whole crew more into “Catholicky Catholic” territory, which fits right in with how Beth said that she’d love to “find a boy’s name with similar resonance” to the “beauty and Catholicness of Felicity Perpetua” — a “combination of familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic.” So that’s really where I focused for this baby: I wanted to come up with some ideas that really conveyed the faith in an obvious way, but not at odds with the Brit feel (no Juan Diego, for example). Also, how Beth said, “I would honestly just love to hear something I haven’t thought of before”: that’s tough, but I tried! I definitely cast a wider net because of that, so some of my ideas here might be a little crazy.

I should also note that I mostly leaned into the British/royal-sounding names in this consultation, despite the fact that Beth has said before it’s not something she wants to continue. This is partly because of her wanting “something she hasn’t thought of before” and partly because I have a growing love for the English Catholic Church and its beautiful history (England used to be known as “Our Lady’s Dowry”!). And also because those names just go really well with her other kids! (I didn’t look through the list of English martyrs because I had enough ideas to work with already, but if Beth and her hubby decide that they might like to embrace this idea, there are so many who died for the faith in England.)

Before I get to my new ideas, I’ll start by offering my thoughts on the names they’ve considered in the past, in case they’re helpful:

  • Leo: Great name, and definitely moving away from the Brit feel, while not feeling at odds with the older kids’ names.
  • Luke: I loved re-reading my previous emails with Beth, where she said Luke Benedict was one of the contenders for Henry before they landed on Samuel Benedict (my youngest is Luke Benedict). I think Luke’s a great option, and like Leo moves away from the Brit feel, while still sounding fine with the other kids.
  • Benedict: Even though I love both Leo and Luke, and for Beth I love that they move away from the Brit feel because that seems like something Beth would prefer, Benedict is actually the kind of name that is in my head as the ideal for them *because* it can have a Brit feel (Benedict Cumberbatch!) as well as being super Catholic. Beth said later in her email that Benjamin on her “no” list makes Benedict problematic because Benjamin goes by Ben, which makes me wonder if a different nickname would make the difference? I considered Benedict as a first name for Luke (Benedict Gerard as a first+middle combo, specifically), and I’d come up with a couple offbeat nickname ideas I thought could work: my favorite was Bear (so cute! And perfect for Benedict Gerard!); I also liked Boone for a while (similar sounds and meaning to Benedict); others are Bede (a two-for-one — St. Benedict and St. Bede in one name!) and Ned (super British-feeling!).
  • Samuel: I’d said in my last consultation that Samuel was great because it moved away from Charlie and Cate’s royal British feel, so that still remains — still such a great name!
  • Julian: I’m interested by Julian! It’s like Benedict for me — I think it has the Brit and Catholic qualities that would be great! Another thing I love about Julian is that I’ve seen Jude used as a nickname for it, which makes it like my idea of Benedict nn Bede — two saints in one!
  • Gabriel: Gabriel is one of my very favorite names — I never tire of hearing it. Nicknames include Gabe, Gil, Gib, and Eli.
  • Lawrence/Laurence: Wow! Beth is the second mama in recent months to tell me that Lawrence is a real consideration! Here’s the consultation I posted for the other one — she was looking for nicknames besides Larry, and Rory and Lolek were my favorites of the ones I suggested to her. But I love Laurie too! In my experience, it’s getting Dad on board with a nickname like Laurie for his son that’s the challenge — is Beth’s husband okay with it? I love the special meaning Lawrence has for Beth and her hubby!

I’m glad she included the girl names she likes — Teresa, Tessa, Rosemary, and Stella were helpful in my research, as was William from their “no” list.

I started by doing my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard — whenever I work with a family for a second or third time, I always treat the current consultation as if it’s the first, and I do all the research anew. Then I look back at the previous consultation(s) to see what names I suggested back then, and cross them off my new list. I did so here, and before I list my new ideas below, I just wanted to mention again a few of the ones from before that I still think would be great:

  • Edmund: This was my number one choice for Beth and her hubs when I started doing this consultation, and was both thrilled and disappointed that I’d already suggested it to them! Edmund feels very British and it’s also a royal name so it would be really leaning into the style they’re trying to get away from! So Beth will probably hate this idea, but I just think it’s so stunning with her other kids. St. Edmund Campion is an amazing patron. Like with Benedict, Ned can be a nickname for Edmund; like with Thaddeus from their list when they were expecting Henry, Ted can be a nickname for Edmund.
  • Gregory: In one of the consultations I posted recently I discussed Gregory and how I see it a lot on lists of names that the parents I work with are considering. Pope St. Gregory the Great! Saintly and papal and so handsome! I also discussed nickname ideas other than Greg in that post, as I know that “Greg” is the reason a lot of parents don’t end up choosing Gregory.

Beth also had a longer list last time of names they couldn’t use, which caused me to cross Philip (Pip!), Ignatius, Dominic, and Maximilian off my list of new ideas, but if they’re actually okay to use this time, maybe they’d like to consider them?

In addition to the research in the BNW, I also went through the article I wrote for CatholicMom a while ago called “Unmistakably Catholic Boy Names,” and I went through my own mental files as well. Based on all that, these are my new ideas:

(1) Francis

Francis is one of those ultimate Catholicky Catholic names for boys! There are so many great Sts. Francis to choose from, but if they were to pair Francis with the middle name Xavier, that would really be a one-two punch, similar to Felicity Perpetua. I occasionally see F.X. as initials, usually for an older man, and I immediately know that his given name must be Francis Xavier and that no matter where he is in his faith journey currently, he obviously comes from a Catholic family. I love that!

(2) Oliver

Oliver is a style match for Henry, Felicity, Leo, and Julian! I love Oliver! St. Oliver Plunkett is a favorite of mine, and Ollie is such a darling nickname. I also love that, as a reader pointed out to me, St. Oliver Plunkett wrote about Divine Mercy centuries ago (it’s about a third of the way down at that link — do a “find” search for “Divine Mercy”), which gives him a really nice connection to St. Faustina and St. John Paul II and our current heightened awareness of Divine Mercy.

(3) Simon, Peter

In considering Samuel and how wonderful it is but perhaps doesn’t quite have that “Felicity Perpetua” feel Beth is looking for, I thought maybe Simon would be a good replacement? As with Felicity Perpetua and Francis Xavier, the right middle name could really send it over the edge into Catholicky Catholic territory: Simon Peter, for example. Which makes me think of Peter — the more I think about it, the more I like Peter as a first name for this baby! I have a friend who named his son after St. Peter Damian by giving him Peter as a first name and Damian as a middle, which I absolutely love.

(4) Damian/Damien

Speaking of Damian — it’s a style match for Perpetua, and not only do I love St. Damien of Molokai, but this family — who actually lives in the U.K. (the mom is American and the dad is English) — named one of their boys Damien (Damien Edmund, specifically), which I thought of right away when I saw Damian in the list of Perpetua’s matches.

(5) Augustine

It was fun looking through the style matches for Perpetua, because I knew a lot of them would be the heavy Catholic names, and of course they were! Ignatius, Aloysius, and Dominic were the kinds of boy names that were listed as matches for Perpetua, in addition to Damian; of them, I like Augustine best for Beth’s baby.

(6) Fulton

When I was looking through the list of names I included in the article I wrote on unmistakably Catholic boy names, I was drawn to Fulton right away for this family. I love it with the other kids! I did a post on nickname ideas for Fulton — be sure to read the comments too!

(7) Walsingham

This is definitely my craziest idea! But I felt very much like Beth when I was pregnant with my youngest — I spent a long time looking and looking for “something I haven’t thought of before” (which, also like Beth, is hard to do when you’ve read all the sites and books and discussions and comments available on baby names!) and Walsingham was one I tried to convince my husband of — it’s for the English apparition title Our Lady of Walsingham, and as my husband had strongly suggested Stanley with the nickname Stan, I thought maybe he’d be interested in Walsingham with the nickname Walt! (He wasn’t, oh well.) This name is one of those that really honors the English Catholic tradition in a very specific way.

(8) John, Joseph

In trying to come up with “Felicity Perpetua”-type names for a boy, I really felt like double names more than any others achieve the effect Beth is going for — for a boy, that’s probably generally most comfortable looking like a first+middle combo like Edmund Campion or Simon Peter or Peter Damian, but a double first name might also be perfect (John Paul is one of the most familiar examples, but it’s on their “no” list; John Henry’s totally one I would have suggested for them if they didn’t already have a Henry! I included the idea of double names in my article on unmistakably Catholic boy names). In this vein, I kept thinking that John might be perfect, whether as part of a double first name, or as a first name to pair with a heavier or more offbeat middle name, or as the perfect middle name. For example, using ideas discussed here already:

  • John Francis: I’m dying over John Francis, such a handsome combo! And John (Giovanni) was St. Francis of Assisi’s given name.
  • Peter John: This was actually Fulton Sheen’s given name — Fulton was his mother’s maiden name that he went by.
  • John Benedict, John Damien, John Augustine, John Walsingham: With these, I love John as the legal first name, so their son can always have the option to go by John if he prefers, but it also allows them to use the middle name or a nickname of it as the name he goes by if they want. John Benedict called Benedict or Bede; John Damien called Damien; John Augustine called Gus; John Walsingham called Walt. Fantastic!

As for Joseph, with this year being the Year of St. Joseph, I simply must suggest it to all the families I work with! I would have suggested it as a first name here but that it’s on Beth’s “no” list, but I’m hoping they can consider it for the middle name. Damien Joseph has the nice added layer of Joseph being St. Damien’s birth name. Fulton Joseph is amazing.

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


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!)

5 thoughts on “Baby name consultation: Familiar but unusual and clearly Catholic (+English royalty?) name for baby boy

  1. Aquinas — Quinn would be a good nickname
    Dominic — if Dominic has moved off the “can’t use” list
    Martin
    Raymond
    Sebastian
    Titus

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  2. My two first thoughts were Gilbert (Bertie, Gib/Gibbie – St Gilbert founded the only English order) and Anselm. Other thoughts – Ambrose, Bernard (Bear? Could use the great suggestion of Bede as a nickname also), Edgar or Edwin (both english kingly saints but I don’t think they’re well known enough for the royal association. Edwin was also a martyr), Elliot, Albert (in my defense there has never been a King Albert in the UK!)

    I looked up lists of early Christian martyrs to match the beautifully named Felicity Perpetua and there were some great names – Fabian (Pope Fabian), Alban (The first British Christian martyr!), Barnabas.

    Later martyrs- what about Stanley for Bl. Stanley Rother? Or Becket?

    There are lots of good Papal names that I think could suit – Victor, Clement, Julius, Adrian, Linus maybe, Sylvester (too much?).

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  3. My first thought was Damian Patrick.
    I also think Theodore Felix would be awesome for a rainbow baby, ”happy gift from God”. It would be a nod to Felicity which they might like, but also I can see it being a bridge out of the British royalty lane they’re in right now. Probably too popular though, if unusual is their goal.
    I love the suggestions of John Francis, Stanley and Linus. Maybe Frederick? I don’t see that used often.

    Damian Patrick
    Theodore Felix
    John Francis
    Linus Gabriel
    Stanley Joseph
    Frederick Pio
    Arthur Clement
    Julian Peter

    Like

    • What about Tolkien? I kept thinking about Edmond… Which led me to think about his last name, Campion, but they already have two names that start with a C, so I figured they’d want to bridge out… Tolkien was a strong Catholic man – it would not surprise me if he becomes a saint, and a patron of writers! What about it combined with one of the other names they love?
      Tolkien Benedict

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