Sibling Project: Fulton

Longtime readers might remember that I’d started what I call the Sancta Nomina Sibling Project a few years ago. It was an attempt to supplement the info in the Baby Name Wizard (affiliate link) with Catholic-specific data, and to also provide info on names that don’t have their own entries in the BNW. So far I’ve taken the information you’ve shared and combined it with my own thoughts/ideas/experiences for the names Kateri, John Paul, and T(h)eresa (all listed on this page), and it looks like I started working on a profile for Therese as well (I’ll try to finish that up soon). In light of the loss of the BNW tools on its now-defunct web site, I’m feeling inspired to start it up again. After finishing the Therese profile, I’d like to focus on Fulton, which does not have its own entry in the BNW.

According to the Social Security Administration database, Fulton was a top 1000 name for a few years early in the 20th century before dropping out of the top 1000 altogether.

Digging deeper in the most recent years, these are the number of babies given the name Fulton from 2000 through 2020:

  • 2020: 69
  • 2019: 65
  • 2018: 34
  • 2017: 53
  • 2016: 42
  • 2015: 35
  • 2014: 55
  • 2013: 28
  • 2012: 30
  • 2011: 24
  • 2010: 14
  • 2009: 14
  • 2008: 11
  • 2007: 9
  • 2006: 12
  • 2005: 19
  • 2004: 13
  • 2003: 15
  • 2002: 9
  • 2001: 10
  • 2000: 18

(To go back further, go here — I used the National Data.)

It’s notable that Bishop Fulton Sheen was declared Venerable in 2012; it would be interesting to see if the numbers changed in light of his death in 1979. Also, from his first broadcast on the radio in 1926 through the many years he was on TV and until his death, his popularity in America only increased — I would imagine the name did as well (though still staying out of the top 1000, which I find strange given that it was in the top 1000 before he was ever known — does anyone know why?). I plan to look at those numbers when pulling together the info from your comments in my final “entry” on the Sibling Project page.

Fulton is a Catholic surnamey name (which, in my mind, always also includes place names, because of their usage in Saints’ names as a sort of surname: e.g., St. Catherine of Siena). However, I’ve seen parents choose Fulton who don’t otherwise seem into surnamey names, which I assume is due to the fact that, for many people, their primary familiarity with the name is only as a first name (albeit an unusual/unique one). Furthermore, Fulton wasn’t even Ven. Fulton Sheen’s given name — rather, his given name was Peter John, but he went by his mother’s maiden name, Fulton. Further further, not only is it a surname but it’s an Irish one as well. So there are a few reasons that parents might like Fulton:

  • it’s an obviously Catholic name
  • it’s an unusual/unique first name (per it’s most famous bearer)
  • it’s actually a nickname (of sorts) (by this I mean, in the case of Ven. Fulton Sheen, it wasn’t his given name) (side note: there are actually a bunch of other famous holy people who we know almost exclusively by names other than their given names — I wrote an article with several examples not too long ago for CatholicMom)
  • it’s a surname
  • it’s Irish

In light of these, if you have given your son the name Fulton or plan to/thought about/have it on your list of serious considerations, which of the reasons listed above fit your reasons? More than one or none at all are totally fine — and if your reason isn’t listed above, please share what your reason(s) is/are?

And I’m eager to hear anything else you know about the name Fulton! Specifically, if you know someone named Fulton (your own child or someone else’s), what are his brothers’ and sisters’ names? What names (boy names and girl names) do you consider to be stylistically similar to Fulton (from a Catholic perspective)? Also, I did a post on nicknames for Fulton over five years ago — I’m sure at this point there are more! Please share the nicknames you’ve heard, or those you think could work!


I’m back on hiatus from doing consultations (though check back from time to time, as I hope to open up a few spots here and there as I’m able), but Theresa Zoe Williams is available to help you! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Fun Friday Question: “Unmistakably Catholic,” except … not?

Happy Friday everyone! A question for you all today: Do you know or have you ever encountered someone with what you consider to be an Unmistakably Catholic name, but the person isn’t Catholic? I don’t mean someone who has Catholic parents and/or was raised Catholic and has fallen away, nor do I mean someone with a name that is *both* super Catholic and also something else (like Fatima), nor do I mean someone with a name that *is* very Catholic but has also become very mainstream and borne by people with lots of different backgrounds (like Joseph), I’m thinking more like a non-and-never-have-been-Catholic named Regina or Pius.

If so, what name was it? Were you able to ask about it? Do you know the person’s siblings’ names? Any other info about this kind of naming situation? What characteristics do Unmistakably Catholic names have that you think might be appealing to non-Catholics?

Have a great weekend!!


The five baby name consultation openings I had for January have been taken, but Theresa is available to help you out! Email her at TheresaZoeWrites@gmail.com to set up your own consultation! (Payment methods remain the same.)

For help with Marian names, 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). It’s perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Lilibet Diana, and honor names

I posted briefly on Twitter and Instagram yesterday when I heard the news about the birth of Harry and Meghan’s daughter and quickly received the most IG likes and comments I’ve had in a while! Some people love the baby’s name, while others have been driven to deeper depths of anger at H and M than they were before the baby was born. I’d love to know what you think!

I’m also thinking quite a bit about what makes a name an honor name, and when an honor name does the exact opposite. If you have thoughts and/or personal experiences on that topic, I’d love to hear that too!

As for me, my initial reaction upon hearing the name was to be absolutely stunned at how very perfect I thought it was. I’m always delighted at being surprised by a name, and I was thoroughly and happily surprised by Lilibet Diana. Though I’ve since thought more about the possible negative aspects of it, I continue to love it.

Please share your thoughts!

Saintly place names

In the past, I’ve tended to include Saintly place names in lists of Saintly surnames, but my mind was clicking recently about place names specifically, so I wanted to see how many we can come up with. There are two categories: (1) what I’m thinking of as the “of” categories (St. So-and-so of Somewhere) and (2) places that have faithy associations.

“Of” names (with their Saints) (in no particular order)

  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • St. Joseph of Cupertino
  • St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of Avila
  • St. Joan of Arc (d’Arc)
  • St. Francis of Assisi
  • St. Augustine of Hippo
  • St. Pio of Pietrelcina
  • St. Ignatius of Antioch
  • St. Ignatius of Loyola
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary
  • St. Margaret of Scotland
  • St. Rita of Cascia
  • St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernardine of Siena

And of course there are all the Marian places (Our Lady of Fatima, etc.).

Other place (or place-associated) names (in no particular order)

  • Roma, Roman
  • Tiber
  • Magdalene (of Magdala)
  • Eden
  • Belén (Bethlehem)
  • Isla
  • Nazaret (Nazareth)
  • Olivet (Mount of Olives)
  • Gethsemane
  • Judea
  • Jericho
  • Cana
  • Canaan

I’ve seen a lot of these used for babies, and others not used at all … some probably aren’t name-worthy (like Hippo), while others I haven’t seen at all but could be perfect for the right family (maybe Pietrelcina? It’s related to Peter [it literally means “small stones/pebbles,” as far as I can tell]).

I know there are loads more — what would you add to these lists? Happy Monday!


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!)

Patron Saint of nicknames? (!)

A reader sent me the following amazing email:

I just finished reading a biography on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and it turns out she comes from a family of nicknamers: ‘Catherine was a peaceful baby and like all the Seton children instantly received several nicknames.’

It wasn’t so much Elizabeth’s family that gave nicknames, but her husband’s, so she became a huge nicknamer after she married him. She continued to nickname everyone she kept correspondence with and some of the Sisters of her order after his death, but these are her family nicknames that I thought were so fun.

Elizabeth Seton herself was called Betsy throughout her childhood and when she met her future husband he began calling her Eliza.

Their 5 children all had nicknames:

Anna Maria: Annina

William: Will, Willy, Bill

Richard: Dick, Ricksy

Catherine: Kit/Kitt/Kitty, Kate, Jo (short for Josephine, one of Catherine’s middle names, possibly Confirmation name)

Rebecca: Bec

Her husband’s sisters all went by nicknames:

Henrietta: Harriet, Hatch (She was never Henrietta, though, just Harriet, so Hatch was the nickname for Harriet)

Eliza: Zide

Cecilia: Cecil

One girl who was a student of SEAS was not given a nickname, however. Her name was always the full Mary Diana. For some reason that name has such a fun ring it’s been on repeat in my head for the last few days. I had never heard of Hatch or Zide, and love how spunky they are. I know how much you like nicknames, so I thought you’d enjoy this info! I think St. Elizabeth would make an amazing unofficial patron saint of nicknames 🙂 “

I did indeed enjoy this info! And I love the idea of St. Elizabeth being the “unofficial patron saint of nicknames”! Apparently coming up with nicknames is a holy endeavor. 😉 I can see what this reader means about Mary Diana too, that is a lovely combo.

Have a great Wednesday!


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!

New CatholicMom article, and info on Chinese and Japanese names

Happy Thursday everyone! A few things of interest today:

My January CatholicMom article is up! “Naming Your Baby After St. Joseph” was informed by a couple of blog posts I did recently to help expectant parents (and Confirmation candidates?) work St. Joseph into their babies’ names (or their own) during this year devoted to him.

Please share with anyone who think might be interested!

And I read two interesting articles recently:

Why 1.2 billion people share the same 100 surnames in China” on CNN.com. I was surprised to find that, though language and limited racial diversity play a role, technology is actually a huge reason why there are, currently, as few surnames in China as there are:

“… people with rare characters in their names, which aren’t compatible with existing computer systems, can get left behind — pushing many to change their names for the sake of convenience, even if it means abandoning centuries of heritage and language.”

“Abandoning centuries of heritage and language” is such a painful thing to read!

And there was this, which I found shocking:

Japan asked the international media to change how we write their names. No one listened” (also on CNN). I’m amazed that in this day and age, when there is more sensitivity than ever to one’s personal preferences about his or her name (whether it’s one’s given name, or a new name chosen later on), and that aside from names, cultural insensitivity is completely unacceptable, English-language media sources are refusing to switch to writing Japanese names with the surname first, as is their local custom and request.

For now, most media outlets are unwilling to make a change if no one else is, creating an inertia loop whereby inaction begets inaction. CNN Business could not find any major publication which refers to the Japanese prime minister as “Abe Shinzo,” and no outlet which responded to a request for comment suggested such a switch was imminent.”

There are some other factors at play — like the fact that Japan itself switched to the Western style of “family name (surname) last” in the late 19th century when communicating in English — but even still, wow.


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!

Advent/Christmas names, St. Joseph, St. Andrew, et al.

Happy Friday everyone!

I had a few things I wanted to share with you:

Did you all see the wonderful news that Pope Francis named this coming year (Dec. 8, 2020 to Dec. 8, 2021) the Year of St. Joseph?! Be sure to read about the special indulgences (included in that link), and you might also like my recent post on names to honor St. Joseph. I saw a lot of babies with thematic names during the Jubilee Year of Mercy [Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016] — I wonder if we’ll see a lot of babies named for our good St. Joseph this year? I would love that!

I wanted to be sure to post all the resources I have for Advent and Christmas baby names:

I was also reading up on St. Andrew the other day and read this fun bit:

St Andrew is a patron of lace-makers. On his feast, sometimes known as ‘Tander’, areas such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire celebrate by feasting, drinking elderberry wine, sports and serving a special cake called the Tandra Cake, particularly in Bedfordshire. It has a bread dough base to which lard, sugar, currants, lemon peel and eggs are added.”

I thought Tander and Tandra were intriguing possibilities for naming a baby after St. Andrew (or any other Andrew)! While I’ve never seen either one as a given name, I used to know a girl named Tandy, and one of the Behind the Name entries for it claims it’s a Scottish diminutive of Andrew — an Andy variant — that’s used for both boys and girls.

The Tander/Tandra/Tandy connection to St. Andrew reminds of the connection of the word “tawdry” to St. Audrey:

It was in the 16th C that the word tawdry arose, at first to describe the necklaces sold at St. Etheldreda’s or St. Audrey’s (cf. the formation of Tooley St. from St. Olave) fair, and later for any cheap garish goods” (from The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names [affiliate link] by E.G. Withycombe)

(Note that Audrey started as a pet name for Etheldreda.)

I believe St. Olave refers to St. Olaus of Sweden, who’s also known as Olaf and Olave. Of course I had to look up Tooley after reading the reference to it above, and while there are other possible origins of Tooley, this site argues:

This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor. ‘the son of Toly,’ probably a nick, of the immense favourite Bartholomew. Lower writes, ‘Tooley, a crasis of St. Olave. Tooley Street in Southwark is so called from its proximity to the church of St Olave.”

And because going down namey rabbit holes is one of the things I do best, I just have to say that when they refer to the name Bartholomew as “the immense favourite,” they’re not kidding. I spent an entire winter a couple of years ago poring through A Dictionary of English Surnames (affiliate link) by Reaney and Wilson and was blown away by how many English surnames originated as forms (pet names, diminutives) of Bartholomew. I mentioned two of them (Bates and Batten) in this piece I wrote for Nameberry, and Withycombe gives this nice summary:

[Bartholomew] is not found in use in England before the Conquest, but it was very common from the 12th C onwards. The cult of St. Bartholomew was popular (there are 165 church dedications to him in England) and his relics were widely diffused. Bartholomew, with its diminutives Bartle(t) and Bat, gave rise to a number of surnames such as Bartholomew, Bartle, Bartlet(t), Bate(s), Bateson, Bateman, Batcock, Batkin, Batt(s), Batson, Batty.”

You all are the only people I could share all this with and not think you were falling asleep with boredom! Haha! Thanks for being as interested in names as I am! Have a great weekend!! ❤


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!

Gruesome Saint Stories: Off-putting for Parents?

My November CatholicMom article posted today! We’ve talked about this topic a few years ago, and I thought it was worth revisiting. I’d love to hear what you think! Gruesome Saint Stories: Off-Putting for Parents?


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!

Name data: U.S. and U.K.

I can’t believe I haven’t yet posted here on the blog about the 2019 name data that was (finally!) released by the Social Security Administration a couple of weeks ago! (The first few weeks of school always have me in a dither — it always takes me until Thanksgiving every year to finally feel like I have my bearings.)

You’ve probably already seen, but here are the new top ten names:

Screenshot from the SSA baby name site

Of note, Emma dropped down a spot from no. 1 (after 5 years in the top spot), and Ethan replaced Logan. Abby from Appellation Mountain did a few good posts that you’ll want to read (here, here, here for starters — and more! Scroll through her most recent posts to find them all!).

I did post on Instagram a quick thought after taking a first look through the new data, since I was delighted to see that 55 of the girl names that rose the most and 23 of the boy names that rose the most are in my book of Marian names! Here are a few that jumped out at me:

I keep meaning to spend more time with our own data — and I still plan to! — but I had cause to peruse the new data from the U.K. for a consultation I’m working on — you’ll definitely want to check that out too! Elea at British Baby Names discussed the top 100 names in England and Wales and the most popular names by mother’s age; she also shared the top 1000 names in England and Wales and the top 1000 names in Scotland. Such fun info! Here are the top ten for England and Wales:

Girl

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Sophia
  8. Grace
  9. Lily
  10. Freya

Boy

  1. Oliver
  2. George
  3. Noah
  4. Arthur
  5. Harry
  6. Leo
  7. Muhammad
  8. Jack
  9. Charlie
  10. Oscar

Similar to ours, and different, too! The two outliers — Freya and Muhammad (the most popular spellings of both names; Freyja, Mohammad, and Mohammed all made the top 1000 as well) — came in at no. 200 and 336, respectively, in our own data. There’s a little Freya in one of my boys’ classes this year, which is the first time I’ve ever encountered the name in real life.

I’m curious, though, about your perception of “British” names — what names would you say come across as the “most British”? On the above lists, Harry and Arthur are the only ones that I might put in that category, and only depending on what their siblings’ names are. Some others that fit that category for me (again, often dependent on siblings’ names) are Lewis, Alistair, Imogen, and Gillian. Do you agree? Happy Thursday!


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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

New names for Brothers of two religious orders, and a question about religious name changes

Good morning! Happy Friday!!

I read on Facebook and Instagram yesterday the announcement by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph of the upcoming Simple Profession of six Brothers on the feast of the Assumption. They listed them by name, and asked for prayers for them:

Br. Samuel Macarias
Br. Robert John Henry
Br. Leo Rocco Maria
Br. William Pius Mary
Br. Peter Micah Mary
Br. Daniel Raphael Mary

Of course, you know I’m so interested in their names — it seems clear that there are is least some partial taking-on of new names, but the middle name(s) seem the most obvious examples — are the first names new too? You know I love seeing Mary and Maria in there!

On the same topic, just the other day one of you readers, Mary, who has often sent me interesting name tidbits over the years, sent me a link to a podcast episode by the Servants of Christ Jesus (a community of priests and brothers “committed to advancing the new evangelization through the praise, reverence and service of God, our Lord … inspired to live the Gospel through the evangelical poverty of St. Francis of Assisi and the apostolic formation of St. Ignatius Loyola”) on the topic of religious name changes! In their community, each priest or brother is given a new name, which is composed of the name of an apostle and the last name of an Ignatian saint. The men listed on their web site have these names:

Fr. John Ignatius
Fr. Paul Kostka
Fr. James Claver
Br. Thomas Gonzaga
Br. Peter Xavier
Br. Andrew Brébeuf

The podcast was a discussion between the host and Br. Thomas Gonzaga and Br. Peter Xavier on religious name changes in general, and specifically in their community, and specifically to each of them individually. I listened to it this morning, and wrote down several things:

  • Br. Peter Xavier says ZAY-vyer, not k-SAY-vyer (ex-ZAY-vyer, ig-ZAY-vyer)
  • Religious name changes are “one of those curious aspects of Catholic religious life”
  • In Catholicism, there is “always a physical sign that symbolizes an interior reality”
  • Name changes are a way of “leaving behind the old man and putting on the new man,” as St. Paul says in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4
  • They have a small community, so it hasn’t yet been a problem that there are only thirteen apostles’ names to choose from (the original twelve, minus Judas, plus Matthias and Paul); they thought if they run out of apostles’ names they’ll go to other New Testament names, then Old Testament names, but not sure what happens after this. Naming in this way is their tradition, but they’re not bound by it, and their Superior will ultimately decide
  • When it comes time for them to receive their new name, their Superior proposes a name option that he thinks would be fitting, then he asks the man to bring it to prayer to discern it. “There’s always a discernment process after the offer” of a name
  • Each of the Brothers told the stories behind their new names — so interesting, and so personal! They both felt that Jesus showed them both at least part of their new names, if not the entire thing, before they were proposed
  • They both felt that, though they’re given the opportunity to discern the new name, they both had a sense of “trusting and obedience to the Superior’s will”
  • The new name provides them the constant opportunity to “willfully recall that Jesus has renamed me”
  • Fast food places are the hardest places to give their religious names!
  • Their legal names are still their baptismal names, which makes things like traveling and visiting the doctor somewhat complicated
  • There is a lot of emotion surrounding their new names on the part of family and friends, and especially parents. One said he feels “so loved” when he sees his family and friends stretch themselves to remember to use his religious name. To him, it’s a sign that they want to respect what Jesus has done in their lives, it’s a way of showing respect and honor for the Lord. Taking on a new name is not a way of trying to distance themselves from their family, but a way of trying to get closer to Jesus. “I want to identify myself with what Jesus has declared”; “Detachment is never easy, especially when it’s such a good in your life”
  • A new name provides the “grace of greater intimacy with Jesus”
  • Some communities allow the candidates to submit name options, but they both like the process in their community of accepting a name given to them by their Superior. Since Jesus gave them their new names, they feel Jesus’ love in their new names
  • “There’s so much hidden in a name”

These are just the things that jumped out at me — there’s lots more for you to discover, and I know you’d love to hear about each of their particular name story! You can find the podcast on their site, or on iTunes.

Finally, one of you tagged me in a tweet from Fr. Thomas Petri, OP (OP means “Order of Preachers,” which is the Dominicans), in which he said,

A friend’s daughter just had her 1st baby (my friend is now a grandfather). The baby is named Quinn Louis after St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand. I have to admit that Quinn for Aquinas is very creative and now I’m wondering whether that could be used as a religious name.”

I do love Quinn Louis for St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Louis Bertrand! While I’m sure the question was meant lightheartedly, being the crazy Catholic name lady I am, I’d be interested to know if Quinn for Aquinas would be considered okay for a religious name change. My sense is no? That’s it’s a bit too informal/not etymologically related/not obvious enough? Do any of you know?

Have a great day and weekend!


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 expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!