Notes from Scottish Forenames

I started reading this name book I got a while ago that I hadn’t had a chance to sit with yet: Scottish Forenames (New Edition) by Donald Whyte. I’m only on page xii of the Intro, but underlined these bits already:

In Wales a form of the Celtic mac was adopted, which the Cambrians made mab or map, shortened to ap, thus, to give an example, Ap Richard, which became the surname Pritchard.” (vi)

The clansmen used patronymics, and their love of genealogy and description produced forms such as Dhomnuill mac Chalum ‘ic Alastair ‘ic Iain Ban (Donald, son of Malcolm, son of Alexander, Son of Fair John).” (vii)

Athough Gaelic Christian names survived in Lowland Scotland long after the Gaelic language ceased to be spoken, by the Reformation these were out of fashion, except for old royal names such as Kenneth, Malcolm and Duncan. The names of saints survived — Patrick, John, Mungo and Ninian. William fared better, and other royal names like Alexander, Robert and James appear in the parochial registers. Archibald, an Old German name, reached Scotland through Norman and Flemish influence, and other names which remained popular were Adam, Alan, Andrew, Arthur, David, Gavin, Gilbert, George, Hugh, Matthew and Walter. Curiously, George was uncommon in England before the Hanoverian succession, despite being the name of the national saint.” (viii-ix)

[After a discussion of how the first son was usually named after the paternal grandfather and the second son after the maternal grandfather, and the same for daughters, except in one example they gave:] The fact that the first two were named after the wife’s parents (the second not after the husband’s parent) is unusual, and perhaps indicates that [the mother] Margaret McCalder was a strong personality.” (xi) (That made me laugh!)

I hope you’re all safe and well!


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!

Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

Happy Friday! I never appreciate Fridays as much as I do when school is in session, whew!

My most recent column at CatholicMom is a review of the first two books in the Sister Mary Baruch series by Fr. Jacob Restrick, OP. I loved them! And beyond the story itself — the NAMES!! I mean, the main character is given the religious name Sr. Mary Baruch of the Advent Heart, which has loads of meaning for that character. Loooooove.

Speaking of book reviews, if any of you who have read my book are able to leave a review on Amazon, I would be most grateful! (Thank you to those who have left reviews already! I’m so grateful for each one!)

I was on Jon Leonetti’s morning radio show a couple weeks ago, and wanted to share the link for anyone who didn’t listen in: go to Jon’s show’s page on the Iowa Catholic Radio site, then scroll through his episodes to the September 17 episode — my bit starts at the 45:54 minute mark. I’d love to know what you think!

Finally, several years ago, back when the horrifying undercover Planned Parenthood videos were being released, I wrote about giving names to aborted babies, which included a discussion of why this might be an important to thing to do, and included a link to the 50 Million Names web site, “a grassroots campaign to collect names for the now-more-than 50,000,000 children aborted in our country.” My post also linked to a Students for Life post in which the name Emmett was originally suggested as the name by which the baby boy in one of the Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress could be known (instead of “Eleven Six,” which is how he had been being referred, for his age at the time of the abortion): “This baby deserves a name, deserves dignity that is rightly afforded him as a member of the human race.” The name Emmett was then expanded to include a second baby portrayed in another of the videos: “Call them Emmett, for they may very well be the catalysts to end abortion in our nation, just like Emmett Till.” I loved this idea — I loved having something concrete and dignity-affirming to do for all the babies whose lives were and continue to be taken from them.

There’s a new effort to do the same thing for the babies whose bodies were recently found at the home of abortionist George Klopfer, spearheaded by Priests for Life: Name the Aborted Babies Found in Illinois. One of you readers sent the link to me, thinking, rightly, that it would be a good one to share here on the blog, and normally I’d do so without reservation. Certainly, the intention is such a good one! But I more recently read that an equally ardent pro-lifer as myself thinks doing so is abhorrent, for reasons that I never considered. In a post entitled, “Fr. Pavone cashes in on dead babies again,” one of my favorite bloggers/authors, Simcha Fisher, writes:

Naming is an act either of authority, or of ownership — the act of a parent, or of an owner. You don’t get to name a baby unless you’re the parent; and you don’t get to name anything else unless it’s something that can be owned. So what does this mean, for strangers to name unborn babies they’ve never met, who do have parents? Who gave them that right?

While I don’t always agree with Simcha’s conclusions in the many important things she writes about, I often find her position helpful as I seek to clarify my own. I’ve been thinking about her post since I read it, and I’m still not sure where I land — I know she doesn’t care for Fr. Pavone (an understatement, from other things I’ve read by her about him), and the fact that he’s been rebuked by his bishop in the past for actions “not consistent with the beliefs of the Catholic Church” is so important to know. That said, I’d be interested to know if Simcha’s belief about naming aborted babies would be the same if Fr. Pavone wasn’t involved? Is it possible her dislike of him is clouding her judgment regarding this particular issue? Maybe not! I’m just not sure what I think yet. What say you?

And on that note (oh dear!), I hope you all have a wonderful 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!

Free shipping from my publisher, and my book’s available on Amazon!

My book’s available on Amazon! Don’t be put off by the fact that it says it’s not Prime eligible — if you click on the “other sellers” link you’ll see that Amazon Prime is an option. If any of you would like to leave a review of my book on Amazon, I’d be forever grateful. 🙂 ❤

Also, my publisher’s offering free shipping until May 12! Buy it now on their web site ShopMercy.org.

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All purchases made at ShopMercy.org support the Marians in their wonderful work, so I’m delighted they’re offering this nice option.

I can’t wait to hear what you all think of my book!

My book cover: The Marian monogram

Happy Feast of St. Joseph the Worker! I love that his feast day is on the first day of the month of Mary — it’s not for nothing that Joseph has its own entry in my book. ❤

Speaking of my book, and the month of Mary, I really want to focus in a special way on my book this month. There are so many elements of it that are so wonderful! (Said with all modesty. 😉 Seriously though, so much of what I love about it was done by other people, like the graphic designer.)

One of the things I love the most about it is the Marian monogram on the cover. I posted on Instagram a while ago about the holy card that inspired me through the writing of my book — I kept it with me every time I went to the library for the many, many day-long Saturday work sessions I put in over the last couple of years, seeking to finish and polish my book. This is the holy card:

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“Mariae” at the top is Latin for “of/belonging to Mary”; “S.S. Nomen Mariae” underneath is the Latin Sanctissima Nomen Mariae, which means “the most holy name of Mary”; and in the middle is the Marian monogram — the fancy M topped with the crown. I really wanted to have this card be part of the cover of my book, but though I tried and tried to find out whether it was in the public domain, or, if it was copyrighted, who owned the rights, I was never successful. So my book cover designer, Catherine Shirley, set about to make one that we could own.

When I first saw it, I was absolutely blown away. Look at this gorgeous monogram:

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I love everything about it! The crown! The blue for Our Lady! The roses! The way “Mary” is spelled out within the M! Or, alternately, I learned recently that in Marian art “MRA” can mean “Maria” (like IHS means “Jesus”), or it can stand for something like Maria Regina Angelorum (Mary, Queen of the Angels). So much meaning in this beautiful symbol! And it’s even more striking when you see it in person on the cover — it’s big and bold, it’s so perfect.

I wanted this book to be an ode to Our Lady as much as a tool for use by those looking to honor her by name. I really love that this monogram helps accomplish that!

Updated to add: I found this post, that explains a bit more about how Marian monograms have been used in the past. So cool!

(I hope you all got to see the post I did on Instagram the other day about the Nihil Obstat and Imprimi Potest that my book received — I might post the information on the blog as well in the next couple of days if you don’t have access to Instagram.)


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 should be available on Amazon soon!

Review of my book at Epic Pew!

My friend Theresa wrote a review of my book for Epic Pew! It’s amazing! How to Pick a Name to Honor the Blessed Virgin Mary!

I wrote the book I wish existed, and since we all have so much of the same mindset, I know you’re all going to love it. There’s a name for every kind of namer in there! Mother Mary for the win! ❤ ❤ ❤

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BIG NEWS!!

You guys! I am SO EXCITED to share with you a very special announcement:

I’m having a book published! A book of Marian names! Ahhhh!!

I’ve been researching and compiling Marian names for nearly ten years — with a good amount of help from all of you via our conversations on the blog! — and I’m so thrilled that Marian Press (publisher of Fr. Calloway’s and Fr. Gaitley’s books, among others) has agreed to publish it!

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It’s entitled Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady — yes indeed, names for boys too! It will be available for purchase in May (month of Our Lady!), and I’ll have more details for you in the coming weeks. It has turned out amazingly well under the guidance of the team at Marian Press, if I do say so myself. 😊

Writing a book is one of the dreams of my life, and you have to know that writing one that honors Our Lady, and has to do with names, is a greater gift than I could ever have imagined.

This is such a big week, with the announcement of our baby-on-the-way followed by the announcement of my book! God is so good. ❤️

Some more literary stuff

I’ve loved our recent literary conversations — you all had great additions to the Catholic Literary Names post (both book recs and name ideas), and it was fun to spotlight Meghan’s girls’ literary names. Little Lewis’ birth announcement fit right in as well!

Abby from Appellation Mountain re-posted her Imaginary Place Names post yesterday, and I love so many of the ideas. I’d be interested to see if you have any additions to her list — the only one I could think of was Tara, which isn’t quite right, since it’s the name of an existing place (Hill of Tara in Ireland), but sort of fits, since I’m sure it entered baby-naming consciousness as a result of Gone With the Wind and Scarlett’s plantation home, Tara. In fact, Tara didn’t even appear on the SSA’s annual list of names given to five children or more until 1939 — the book was published in 1936 and the movie was released in December 1939 after a two-year-long production process that included the pursuit of Clark Gable and a public search for Scarlett.

This would probably have been more helpful before Christmas, but I also wanted to share with you all the books we’ve gotten for my husband’s elderly great-aunt, in case you might be interested (it’s on my mind because we just got her some new books, and I’m feeling like we’re running out of ideas). She’s a good Christian (though not Catholic) lady who loves love stories (but nothing too spicy!) and dislikes murder mysteries (which rules out Mary Higgins Clark, which I’d initially thought would be perfect — so many books! Set for life!). These are some that we’ve gotten for her:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (this is bordering on too spicy for her, though I loved it)

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (this is a series, and I think we only gave her the first one — I’m adding the rest to my list for her now!) (the first is free with Kindle Unlimited!)

Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Emma by Jane Austen

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (one of my personal favorites) by Alexander McCall Smith

And a bunch from the large-print fiction section of ChristianBooks.com (The Amish of Apple Grove series by Lori Copeland was our gift this year, and it sounds like she’s enjoying it. I’ve never read them, I’m just trusting that any romance novels from ChristianBooks.com aren’t inappropriate!)

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! She loves to read, but can only read large print books and won’t consider Kindle or similar, nor audio books.

Finally, since we’re talking about books, guessss what was under the tree this year for me?? A new Baby Name Wizard!! I totally needed one!! It’s my third copy — my previous two fell apart over time through use! Having a brand new one is such a pleasure!

I hope you’re all enjoying this Christmas season!


Amazon affiliate links used in this post.