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!)

Baby name consultation: Combine family and style in fourth boy’s name

Katy and her husband are expecting their fifth baby — and fourth boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

John Ryan “Jack”
Amelia Margaret
Timothy Robert “Tim”
Andrew Thomas

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!

Katy writes,

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:

Anthony
Benjamin
Christopher
David
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!)
Francis
Gabriel
George
Henry
Jacob
Joseph
Jude
Luke
Mark
Matthew
Michael
Nathaniel/Nathan
Owen
Samuel
William

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.

(2) Paul

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.

(3) Nicholas

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.

(6) Theodore

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.

(7) Gilbert

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!

(8) Jordan

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!)

Baby name consultation: First baby boy — Edward or …?

Mary and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy!

Mary writes,

My Mr. thinks the priority should be names with meaning. I agree this is important, but I tend to think, if a particular name sounds good to us, maybe it’s because an obscure saint associated with that name is “picking” our baby through us. Or maybe our baby is meant to be the first saint with that name!  Also, when I’m considering a name,  I weigh the likely nicknames. My Mr. thinks this is not very important and it drives him crazy.

Case in my point: My husband REALLY likes the name Edward. Edward the Confessor is his confirmation saint.  But “Edward” doesn’t have positive associations for me [including]:

  • A tragic boy with scissors for hands
  • A glittery Twilight vampire
  • A King of England who abdicated to marry a divorcee

Aside from that, the go-to nicknames are no-go: Teddy (already taken in my fam), Ned (my Mr. thinks of the Simpsons character), Eddie (calls to mind gangsters and slick tough guys.)  I DO really like the nickname “Fred” but not sure if it is too much of a stretch with Edward. Maybe if the middle name was Francis?

Our last name is English/Anglo-Saxon.

Other names he likes:

  • George 
  • Louis
  • John
  • Nicholas

He highly favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics … Martyrs, not so much.

I like traditional Britishy names but I’m maybe a bit more adventurous:

  • Albert “Bertie”
  • Henry “Harry”
  • Ambrose “Bo”
  • Ferdinand “Andy”
  • Peter (love love love. But unfortunately when I married my husband he had just adopted a dog named “Pete”)
  • Leopold “Leo”
  • Nathaniel “Neil”
  • Thomas (but his brother has a puppy named Tom)
  • Cyrus “Cy”
  • Frederick “Fred”

My husband considers these too “weird” (Albert, Ambrose, Ferdinand, Leopold) or not Catholic-meaningful enough (Henry, Nathaniel, Cyrus)  

I’m hoping you can either

  • help me learn to like Edward (any good book characters you know of? Heroic movie edwards? Modern real life good guys?)
  • ID a nickname for Edward that I can live with
  • Come up with a different name altogether that my husband will go for

Or

  • if it has to be Edward, maybe more of a creative or unexpected middle name?

It’s so fun for me to work with first-time parents! The disagreements Mary and her husband are having about names for their little boy are not uncommon, and I think might get better with future children as they fall into what the style of their kids’ names will be, as started by their firstborn, if that makes any sense.

Regarding the fact that Mary said her hubby prefers to choose a name that already has meaning for him, while Mary’s open to picking a name that she simply likes, and let the saintliness follow: I wrote an article about this very thing! You can find it here: Finding your patron saint (or being found). Another that directly relates to this is Name definitions vs. name meanings. I definitely think that God works that way (He uses our taste/style/preferences — which He gave us — to lead us to Him)!

Fortunately, the names Mary and her husband like are not that far away from each other — they’re all good, solid names that have good usage in England. I think this is likely simply a matter of finding a way to work with each other and find a compromise they can both live with. I think it’s important that neither one of them think that their opinion is the only one that matters, but there are different ways of finding the right balance. For example:

  • If it’s very important to Mary’s husband that Edward be part of their baby’s name, but Mary absolutely can’t stand it for a first name, the middle name spot seems to be the perfect place for it. Then Hubby’s beloved patron saint has his place, but the first name spot is open for a name that Mary doesn’t have as many negative associations with.
  • Perhaps they as a couple would prefer the kind of set up where one of them picks this baby’s first name, while the other one gets to pick the next baby’s. Or Dad gets to pick the boys’ names and Mom gets to pick the girls’ names. These kind of ideas don’t have to be all or nothing — you could decide that one of you picks this baby’s first name, but the other one gets veto power for a name you really can’t stand. Or you could decide that Dad picks the full name but Mom picks the nickname. Maybe whoever picks the first name concedes the middle name to the other parent.
  • Some couples find name conversations to be so contentious that the best way to a peaceful resolution for them is to cross off any name that either parent really can’t stand, even if that name is the other parent’s favorite.

Mary and her hubby might come up with yet a fourth strategy that works better for them as a couple! And a really good reminder is that it might not be possible to agree on one name that they both think is 100% perfect — rather, success might mean finding a name that they both can simply live with — a name that neither one of them hates. I think they can be really hopeful that whatever name they end up giving their little guy will eventually become so intertwined with himself — his personality and how much they love him — that the name will really sparkle for Mary and her hubby.

That said, I want to talk about nicknames for a minute, because I’ve often thought that nicknames are a great tool in baby name compromising. My very first article for CatholicMom.com five years ago included this topic! You can find it here: Patrick vs. Polycarp. Not only do I think it’s important to consider the likely nicknames, like Mary said (even though these days non-family members are far less likely to nickname someone than in the past, it still does happen), but a great nickname can make an un-liked given name much less problematic. Mary’s already thinking the way I would be — thinking of unusual nicknames for more normal first names, or more familiar-feeling nicknames for more unusual first names. I think it’s a great strategy!

Up to this point I’ve been talking about naming (especially a first baby) more generally, but I want to get into Mary’s particular specifics as well. I admit I love St. Edward the Confessor, and while Edward isn’t my favorite name, my love for the saint could sway me if my husband really wanted to use it. But I don’t have the issues with it that Mary does, so let’s talk about those for a second: I would encourage her to not worry too much about Edward Scissorhands or Edward Cullen, as those references are becoming less and less familiar as time goes on, and the abdicating king is more on people’s minds currently, I would think, because of The Crown, but otherwise I don’t think people in general think too much of him — Edward is the kind of name that doesn’t really have one or two particular associations that stick, because it’s such a traditional name with such a long history of usage by lots of different men (real and not real) with lots of different reputations. That said, calling a baby by the full Edward would reinforce those connections for anyone who had them in mind — using a nickname really dispels any of those associations.

Since Mary listed the nicknames that don’t work, I’m assuming that Edward is not a complete impossibility. Teddy, Ned, and Eddie either don’t work or aren’t their style, but I wonder what they might think of Ward? That’s a pretty cool nickname that is so different from Edward (despite having the same last four letters) that it feels like a different name altogether, which might be perfect here. I scoured my favorite naming sites for ideas on other Edward nicknames, and didn’t find a whole lot; one idea that I thought might have a possibility is to switch from Edward to Eduardus (I know this is a bold move, but since Mary described her taste as more adventurous, I thought I’d throw it out there) — St. Edward the Confessor is known in Latin as Eduardus Confessor, and a funny tidbit is that actor Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria had their fifth baby about two months ago, and they named him Eduardo and she often refers to him as Edu. Edu! So cute! Eduardus nicknamed Edu would be really interesting and adventurous! And specific to St. Edward the Confessor! I saw that Edek is a Polish nickname for it, which is interesting, and they could also do initials (i.e., E.J. for Edward Joseph). Another idea would be to pick a nickname that’s unrelated: for example, I know a John who goes by Gus, a Gerard who goes by Sam, and an Xavior who goes by Sam, so why not just pick a nickname they like?

From that perspective, Mary’s idea of Fred is totally fine for Edward just as is! But I particularly like her idea of incorporating Francis for the “Fr” part, added onto to the “Ed” of Edward, but instead of putting Francis in the middle, I think Francis Edward would be a fantastic combo that makes perfect sense of Fred. While Francis is particularly perfect because of its “Fr,” I think any F name with Edward as a middle would make sense of Fred as the nickname. Felix Edward or Finnian Edward, for example. Or Frank Edward instead of the full Francis. Or even Philip Edward or Phineas Edward (you can still use the “F” spelling of Fred, even with a “Ph” given name). I really like this idea, nice job with it!

I was interested to read that Mary said her husband “favors saints who were Kings or soldiers, or fought battles against heretics” — I did a post a while ago on what I called Warrior Saints, in which I included saints who were soldiers. Her Mister’s names of Edward, George, Louis, and Nicholas are all in there, as well as Leo (like Leopold/Leo on Mary’s list). I looked up saints who were kings, and loved seeing Hubby’s St. Louis IX in addition to his St. Edward the Confessor, but also names from Mary’s list! Like St. Ferdinand III of Castille, St. Henry II, and St. Leopold III. These would probably be where I would look to find compromise names or “overlap” names — Hubby might think that Leopold is too weird, but it fits his preference for a saint who was a king, and has a great nickname in Leo, which also happens to be the name of a soldier saint, so he gets things he wants and Mary gets things she wants (the name she likes, and a great nickname). Or maybe, if Leopold is just too bold for him, maybe the given name should be Leo, and they could take both St. Leopold and St. Leo as patrons? Or maybe Edward Leopold, called Leo, where the “crazy” name is tucked away in the middle spot and Mary’s hubby’s preferred name is in the first name spot, but they could agree to call him Leo. But I know that for some people, that would be too much Name Fuss — Mary and her hubby will have to decide how much name fuss they’re willing to put up with.

Speaking of Name Fuss, I just have to suggest this one idea that could be really really cool: Edward Andettere. In Old English, St. Edward the Confessor is known as Ēadƿeard Andettere, which is the Old English for Edward plus “Andettere,” which I was fascinated by, as I’d never seen that word before. After a bit of googling, it turns out Andettere means “Confessor” in Old English, how cool! I’m not sure how it’s pronounced (I emailed someone who might know and will update this when I hear back!), but I love that Mary already has Ferdinand with the nickname Andy on her list … what about Edward Andettere nicknamed Andy?! Ahh! I love it! What a really cool and specific convergence of her hubby’s love for St. Edward the Confessor and Mary’s more adventurous taste!

Okay, let that stew for a minute while I offer some thoughts on the names that Hubby thinks are too weird:

  • Albert/Bertie: Albert, both with and without the nickname Bertie, is one of those quintessentially British-feeling names. I’m not sure what’s weird about it — does her husband mean old-fashioned/out of date? It’s currently at a low point in popularity in the U.S. — it’s been declining slowly but surely since its peak of popularity in the early 1900s — but it’s still a top 500 name, being ranked no. 474 in 2019. That means it’s more popular than Frederick (no. 475), for example, as well as Francis (482), Pierce (490), Corey (492), Maximilian (503), Lawrence (536), Fletcher (622), and Brendan (639) (I chose those names because I thought it was surprising that Albert was more popular than them).
  • Henry/Harry: Henry is definitely Catholic enough! I did a name spotlight post on Henry a while ago because, unfortunately, there are others who think it’s not Catholic enough. I had to show them that it is! Also, St. Henry II was a king! In fact, he was the Holy Roman Emperor and the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors.
  • Ambrose/Bo: Ambrose isn’t weird among Sancta Nomina readers! This family has a son named Ambrose; this family has a son with Ambrose as a middle name; and my husband and I considered it as well. I love Bo as a nickname for it! I’d thought of Sam and Bram as good possibilities as well.
  • Ferdinand/Andy: I would consider this name to be the boldest on Mary’s list, as I’ve never met anyone in real life with the name Ferdinand and it was only given to twenty baby boys last year. But St. Ferdinand III of Castille is amazing! He was a king and soldier — her husband should love him! And the nickname Andy is so easy and friendly for everyday usage.
  • Peter: Argh, so frustrating when names are off the table because they belong to pets!! I’m glad Mary included it in the list here though, as it was helpful to me in my research.
  • Leopold/Leo: I’m a huge fan of the name Leo, and lengthening it to Leopold is so fun (but I’m also a huge fan of adventurous naming, haha!). St. Leopold III was a great king! Leopold was given to 103 baby boys last year, and Leo alone is currently pretty popular at no. 40 (7454 boys so named last year).
  • Nathaniel/Neil: I love Neil for Nathaniel! Nathaniel is a New Testament apostle name, so while the biblical names don’t always come across as “Catholicky Catholic” as other saints’ names, they certainly are Catholic-meaningful. I wonder if Mary and her husband would be interested in the name Bartholomew? It’s generally thought that Nathaniel and Bartholomew are the same person, and Bartholomew has a really British feel to me and a lot of cool traditional nicknames, like Bart, Batt, Bates, and Bartlett (surnames like Bates and Bartlett are derived from Bartholomew!). There are a bunch of Blesseds and Saints with this name as well.
  • Thomas: Double argh re: the pets’ names!!
  • Cyrus/Cy: St. Cyrus of Constantinople and St. Cyrus the Physician both have great stories, and there are two other Sts. Cyrus as well. Cy’s a cool nickname — perhaps they might also like to consider Simon with the nickname Si?
  • Frederick/Fred: I love the idea of Fred as a nickname for F___ Edward or Ph___ Edward so much that I just can’t love Frederick as much! Haha! But otherwise Frederick’s a great name, and there are a few holy Fredericks.

Hopefully my comments are helpful! Before moving on to my additional suggestions for this family, Mary had specifically asked me for any good book/movie characters or modern real-life good guys named Edward — my favorite is probably Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (played by Hugh Grant in the Emma Thompson version, fantastic). Another really positive association I have with the name is Prince Edward Island (Anne of Green Gables!). The Wikipedia entry for Edward lists a lot of famous Edwards, which is fun to peruse.

Okay! On to my new ideas! Between Mary’s husband’s list of names and hers, they already have a lot of really great ideas, so I hope that adding more here is helpful and doesn’t just muddy the waters! You all know that I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. As mentioned, I also looked up saints who were kings and soldiers, and I also took a look through the recent birth announcements on British Baby Names, which is always a good resource for parents who love English names. I also took a look through the book of Marian names I wrote (not an affiliate link), as I love a good Marian name for both boys and girls. Based on all that, these are my additional ideas for Mary’s baby boy:

(1) Charles

Charles was a big style match for them, being similar in style to Edward, Louis, and Henry. It’s kingly (Bl. Charlemagne and Bl. Charles [aka Karl], Emperor of Austria), and soldier-y (a bunch of holy soldier Charles-es!), and English, with a bunch of fun nickname options.

(2) Alexander/Alistair

One of the things I love about Alexander is that it’s a style match for one of Mary’s husband’s names (Nicholas) and one of hers (Nathaniel), which could make it a perfect compromise name! There are seven Sts. Alexander who were soldiers, and some great nickname options, like Ace, Alex, Lex, Sander, Sacha/Sasha, and Xander. Or maybe they’d like to consider the super-British variant Alistair?

(3) Theodore

Theodore is a match for Henry, Leopold, and Frederick, but isn’t as “out there” as Leopold and Frederick, which might make it perfect. It has a great meaning (“gift of God”), and there are some soldier saints named Theodore as well. (There was even a Theodore Edward listed in the birth announcements on British Baby Names recently!) Mary already said Teddy doesn’t work, but they could use Theo as a nickname.

(4) William

William is a match for Hubby’s John and Edward and Mary’s Henry and Thomas, and there’s an awesome St. William of Gellone who was a soldier, as well as some Blesseds who were soldiers as well. Will, Billy, and Liam are great options for familiar nicknames, and some more unusual ones include Wilkie and Wilkins. William even has a Marian character, as the flowers Sweet William and Wild Sweet William used to be known as Mary’s Rose and Our Lady’s Wedding, respectively.

(5) Robert/Bo

When I saw Bo on Mary’s list as a possible nickname for Ambrose I immediately thought of this consultation I did for my brother and sister-in-law — my sister-in-law loves the name Beau/Bo, so I spent a bit of time discussing different ways to get to it (including Ambrose!). Also check out this birth announcement for a little girl who would have been named Robert nicknamed Bo if she’d been a boy (because of the middle name, but I definitely think it can work for Robert!). And then Robert is a style match for Edward and John, so maybe Hubby will like it and Mary can use Bo as the nickname! I don’t believe there are any Sts. Robert who are kings or soldiers, but there are quite a few holy Roberts nonetheless.

(6) Philip

I’m so sorry that Mary loves Peter but can’t use it, so I was hopeful I would find something similar, and I think Philip might be it. It’s a style match for Peter, and as I mentioned earlier, I think they could use Fred as a nickname for Philip Edward. However, they might also want to consider Pip, which is so fantastic for a little guy and so British (like the main character in Great Expectations).

(7) Walsingham

This probably falls more in the category of a “creative or unexpected middle name” for Edward. Our Lady of Walsingham refers to an apparition in England, and I actually tried to convince my husband to consider Walsingham with the nickname Walt as a first name for our youngest! Edward Walsingham would be pretty cool.

(8) Adrian

St. Adrian of Nicomedia was a soldier, and is also a patron of soldiers! Adrian has a really British feel, and its variant Hadrian calls to mind Hadrian’s Wall in England.

(9) Caspian

I know this is a tricky suggestion, but if Mary and/or her husband don’t care for it as a first name, it could be another great option for a middle. Prince Caspian is a fictional character — a prince and a soldier — in the Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis, which gives it a particularly British flavor. Edward Caspian would be really cool! (In case it helps, read about the son of one of my readers, named Caspian!)

(10) Hugh

Finally, I saw Hugh in the list of birth announcements on British Baby Names and thought it would be a great addition to Mary’s list. I checked the list of soldier saints, and there is a Bl. Hugh Canefro!

Those are all my ideas for Mary and her hubby, and she also asked if you all could weigh in on how likely Edward is to turn to Eddie, and if Edward suits a little boy. I’m interested to hear your opinions and experiences about that, and also what other name(s) you would suggest for Mary’s baby boy!


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!

Baby name consultation: Baby brother needs name that fits well with big brother (and also big sisters)

Lauren and her husband are expecting their fourth baby — a boy! This little guy joins big siblings:

Charlotte Jude

Finn Douglas

Stella Grace

+Francis Raphael (in heaven)

Aren’t these great names?! Each combo is put together so well — I love the unexpectedness of Jude as Charlotte’s middle name, and Charlotte, Finn, and Stella are a wonderful set of names. (Of course I’m not forgetting their little Francis Raphael! It’s such a saintly and meaningful name, just beautiful.)

They’re set on Daniel for the middle name, and don’t want to repeat these family names:

Ryan

Michael

Alex

Benjamin

Dominic

Alrighty, you all know that I start each consultation by looking up the names the parents 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. I did so for this family, with Finn kept particularly in mind, as I think it’s always nice for brothers to feel like they go together (and sisters with sisters). I used Charlotte, Finn, and Stella as my inspirations, but I also included Jude, since it has a specific style that I thought was revealing of the kinds of names Lauren and her hubby like. It was a pretty easy job, as their older kids’ names are very consistent style-wise! Based on that research, these are my ideas for their little boy:

(1) Owen (or Oliver)

Owen is a style match for both Charlotte and Finn, and I absolutely love it specifically as Finn’s brother, too. Not only do Finn and Owen go together really well, as well as Charlotte, Finn, Stella, and Owen, but St. Nicholas Owen is one of my very favorite saints. Owen Daniel is so handsome!

Before I’d even started my research, I’d actually had Oliver in mind as a possibility for this family, so I was happy to see that it’s a style match for Charlotte. I think it could also be a good brother name for Finn, as they both have that Irishy feel, and I like it with Charlotte and Stella, too. Since Owen and Oliver are similar in that they both start with O, have an Irish feel, and are actually style matches for each other, I thought I’d include them both here. St. Oliver Plunkett is a great patron, and Oliver Daniel sounds great together.

(2) Emmett (or Elliott)

I always love when I see names listed as style matches for more than one of the names that the parents have used or like — like with Owen being a match for both Charlotte and Finn — and Emmett is another one, being listed as similar to both Charlotte and Stella. I knew an Emmett in college whose mom was from Ireland, so I’ve always thought of it as a sort of Irish name, so it goes well with Finn, too, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are no saints named Emmett as far as I could find, but since it derives from Emma, then any of the Sts. Emma can be patron. Or they can just look to the middle name and choose any of the Sts. Daniel as patron! Emmett Daniel is great.

Like with including Oliver in the Owen suggestion, I wanted to include Elliott in the Emmett suggestion, since it’s a similar name that is also a style match for Stella, and its saintliness is more obvious since Elliott’s derived from Elijah. Elliott Daniel is wonderful.

(3) Cole

I’m excited to include Cole here for two reasons: first, it’s a specific style match for Finn, which I think is significant, since I really want Finn and his brother to have names that go together. Secondly, Cole has usage as both a short form of Nicholas and a nickname of Nicholas, and their baby’s due on the feast of St. Nicholas! Cole could be the perfect way to nod to his feast day (even cooler if he was actually born on that day!) and/or the Christmas season more broadly. I like Cole Daniel quite a bit!

(Bonus) Henry

Though a Mini Consultation is for three ideas, since Henry’s a match for both Charlotte and Stella, I couldn’t not include it! It’s not one of my favorite suggestions, since it’s closer to Lauren’s girls’ style than Finn’s, but I don’t hate it with Finn either, and Henry Daniel is a really nice combo. And there are lots of great Sts. Henry!

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little brother of Charlotte, Finn, and Stella?


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 an affiliate link) — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

Baby name consultation: Easy to pronounce but uncommon name with maybe a gentle Brit feel for baby no. 6

Tahnee and her husband are expecting their sixth baby! This little green bean (=gender unknown) joins big siblings:

Simon Valentine (“we liked the name Simon because it’s easy to spell and people know how to pronounce it, but it’s not common, and I liked naming a first born son Simon, like Simon Peter. Valentine is my deceased father’s middle name“)

Margaret Dora (Maggie) (“we actually like the name Maggie and picked a full name that would work with it! She is named after St. Margaret Mary, but Margaret also happens to be my great-grandmother’s name. Dora is my husband’s grandmother“)

Louis Kolbe (twin of Benedict) (“Louis is my husband’s grandfather’s name, and St. Maximilian Kolbe is his patron saint, although he actually ended up being born on the feast day as well, but we had the name picked out long before he was born on that date. We found out relatively late in the pregnancy that I was pregnant with twins, so my original due date was nowhere near that feast day, but they ended up being born early on that day on their own which was a cool coincidence“)

Benedict Andrew (Ben, Benny) (twin of Louis) (“we were married at St. Benedict’s church and still attend there, so he is named for that. His patron is St. Andrew and his middle name is that because we actually had used the St. Andrew novena to pray for a baby, found out a few days after that I was pregnant, so when we found out we were having TWINS we knew it was the working of St. Andrew and had to name him after him“)

Theodore Joseph (Theo) (“I found out I was pregnant with Theo when the twins were only about 9 months old, which was a huge shock, and we definitely felt like this was God’s plan the whole way. So when I found out Theodore means “God’s Gift” we knew it was perfect. Joseph is my husband’s middle name, and we had planned to use that somewhere in the name whether the baby was a boy or a girl (either Joseph or Josephine)“)

Fantastic names!!

Tahnee writes,

We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side. Theo is more common than I would like but the meaning overtakes that for me in that particular case. [We have a common last name], so we don’t want them to have a similarly common first name. We like a good nickname, but we don’t have them for all our kids, so we can go either way. I’m kind of leaning toward no nickname for this baby just because the last two go by nicknames almost exclusively, but it depends on what we click with. We’d also like a different first initial than the other kids, though I would be ok with like an M name if it’s a girl, because then it would be just the two girls who match.

Names we’ve thrown around as contenders:

Perpetua (nn Poppy)

Eve

Gemma

Fulton (but I don’t know if this is a Midwest dialect thing or what, but I am worried about people saying “Fult’n” without actually saying the O sound)

Names we wouldn’t use because they belong to family/friends:

Stella

Katherine

Frances

Therese

Anne

Felicity

Timothy

Anthony

Stephen

Matthew

Olivia/Oliver

Dominic

James

Peter

Double first names (like John Paul)

I really love the names Tahnee and her husband chose for their older children. They’re certainly saintly, and they fit well with how Tahnee defined their style: “We prefer names that are easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side.” I also felt that they can have a definite British feel — Simon almost always has that feel for me, and with brothers Benedict (like Cumberbatch) and Louis (like the little prince), I can see Margaret/Maggie and Theodore/Theo having a Brit feel as well. The fact that they’re considering Perpetua/Poppy and Gemma adds to that as well! It’s a subtle enough vibe that it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it did help me when I was trying to come up with name ideas that I thought they would like.

One thing that jumped out at me is that each of the names they picked for their kiddos, both first names and middle names, were chosen because of a personal connection — many are family names (Valentine, Margaret, Dora, Louis, Joseph), some they just liked (Simon, Maggie), others (Kolbe, Benedict, Andrew, Theodore) were chosen for Tahnee’s hubby’s patron saint/their church/the novena Tahnee said/the perfect meaning. These are all fantastic reasons to choose names, but I worry that my usual method of coming up with new ideas for parents — finding names that are style matches for the names they’ve already used and like per the (affiliate link) Baby Name Wizard’s suggestions of boy and girl names that are similar to each entry in terms of style/feel/popularity — won’t quite cut it. Hopefully I’m wrong! (Also, I’m astonished that their twins were born on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when they’d already planned to use Kolbe as a middle name and their due date was nowhere near his feast day. That’s amazing! As is the fact that it was later in pregnancy that Tahnee discovered she was expecting twins! Wow!)

Before getting into my new ideas, here are my thoughts on the names they’re considering:

  • Perpetua nn Poppy: This is a fantastic idea! It absolutely goes along with the gentle Brit feel of the rest of the kiddos’ names, and is a lovely Marian name. I’ve also seen Pippa as a nickname for Perpetua, and my friend who has a little Perpetua calls her Tua.
  • Eve: Lovely and trim, I love it! I really love short first names with longer middle names or vice versa (like Margaret Dora). Something like Eve Perpetua maybe?
  • Gemma: One of my favorites. It, too, has decent usage in England.
  • Fulton: What Tahnee described — Fult’n — is a problem for many people! It’s either called an elision or perhaps a glottal stop (or a combination — it was hard to figure out the difference for this example — if you know, please tell me!) and is very common — I’m not sure if it’s more common in some regions than others, but I do think it’s one of those things that they’ll encounter frequently, so if Tahnee really hates it, maybe Fulton isn’t the best first name for them — maybe better as a middle?

From the names they can’t use, I thought Felicity and Oliver were two names I almost certainly would have suggested otherwise, too bad!

I did do my usual research for this family in the Baby Name Wizard, and felt somewhat disappointed by what I found. Not that they aren’t beautiful names! But I didn’t think any of the results really fit the “easy to pronounce but on the uncommon side” criteria Tahnee said she likes, nor did they have the sparkle of Perpetua nicknamed Poppy, for example (a truly unexpected name with an unexpected nickname, so fun!). So after compiling a list of names that the BNW says are style matches for this family, I also took some time to look through the birth announcements at British Baby Names, and got a couple of ideas from there, too. Based on all that, these are my ideas for Tahnee’s baby:

Girl

(1) Moira (or Maura)

My husband and I were actually brainstorming names that had a British feel to us (I also posed the question on the blog), and Moira was one that I thought had promise for this family. Though it’s technically an Irish name (a form of Mary), there are some English actresses with the name, and Wendy from Peter Pan’s full name was Wendy Moira Angela Darling. I’ve mostly heard it said MOY-ra, but sometimes MOR-ah, which is also how the similar Maura is said (also an Irish form of Mary) — maybe they’d like to consider Maura instead? (This is the only name I’m suggesting that repeats an initial, and only because Tahnee said an M might be okay for a girl!) Here is a birth announcement I did for a little Moira, in case it’s helpful to see one in real life and what her siblings are named (not mentioned in that post is that she went on to have a sister named Genevieve Immaculee Grace). (Neither Moira nor Maura are in the top 1000.)

(2) Rosa/Rose/Rosamond

Rosa is a style match for Dora, Rose for Louis, and Rosamond for Benedict, and I thought all three had good potential for this family. I think they’re all easy to pronounce and on the uncommon side — Rose is the most popular, at no. 115, while Rosa is no. 650 and Rosamond isn’t in the top 1000. One of the families I’ve worked with who actually lives in England has a Rosamond, so that seemed to make it a good suggestion as well.

(3) Claire/Clare/Clara

Claire and Clara were both results of my research, and I liked that they’re short enough that they won’t get nicknamed, since Tahnee said she might prefer for this baby to not have a nickname. I know she said no double names, but I’ll admit I’ve been loving the idea of sisters Margaret and Mary Clare! (Claire is no. 55, Clare is 800, and Clara is 95.)

(4) Caroline

Margaret, C/Katherine, and Elizabeth are the classic English trio, so I was tempted to suggest both Catherine/Katherine and Elizabeth here. But Katherine’s on their no list, and while I love Elizabeth, if Tahnee doesn’t want a nickname, Elizabeth definitely isn’t for her. However, Caroline is often liked by people who like Catherine, and it’s an actual style match for Margaret. I love the full Caroline, but if Tahnee did decide she wanted a nickname, Callie is a style match for Maggie and is so pretty as a nickname for Caroline. (Caroline is no. 61.)

(5) Cecily

Cecily is the English form of Cecilia and was the usual form used during the Middle Ages. Such a cool background! It’s one of those names that comes across as particularly British to me, and I think it’s easy to pronounce but uncommon (it’s not in the top 1000!).

(6) Annabel

When I was looking through the birth announcements on British Baby Names, one of the first that caught my eye was for a little Annabel (Annabel Octavia Barbara!), and I thought that would be a great suggestion here. I certainly think it’s easy to pronounce and uncommon (Annabel was not in the top 1000 in 2019, but Annabelle was no. 170), but one of my favorite things about it is that it’s apparently a Scottish variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Lovable)! (For that reason, Annabel’s an entry in my book of Marian names.)

(7) Alice

Finally, Alice also caught my eye on the British Baby Names site, and I thought that with the other kids it has that same gentle British vibe. Also, it’s short enough that it doesn’t need a nickname! (No. 73.)

Boy

(1) August

August is a match for Theodore, and while I think the longer Augustine would fit in really well with the other boys, I thought August might be better for avoiding a nickname. (August is no. 167.)

(2) Jude

Jude is a match for Simon and Gemma — what a wonderfully British trio of names! Jude is Catholicky Catholic as well, which is just perfect, and nickname-proof. (It’s no. 153.)

(3) Oscar

I really love Oliver for this family, but since they can’t use Oliver, I thought maybe one of the other O names, and one that is more uncommon. I’m seeing Oscar more and more among the families I work with (here’s one, and here’s another); it’s also a style match for Theo, is pretty nickname-proof, and is the no. 10 name in England and Wales (but no. 205 here).

(4) Henry

I’m guessing Henry might be too common for Tahnee, but it’s a darling name, is a style match for Margaret, Louis, and Theo, and doesn’t have any nicknames but Hank, which I feel like is one of those nicknames you have to make happen. Henry’s the most popular of my suggestions, at no. 12.

(5) Charles

Similar to Henry, Charles might be too common, but again — it’s a great match with the other kids. Charlie’s inevitable, but how cute is Charlie?? I love it! (Charles is no. 51.)

(6) Frederick

As with Annabel, Frederick and Freddie caught my eye in the British Baby Names birth announcements. I love how sophisticated Frederick is, and how sweet and friendly Freddie is. (Frederick is no. 475.)

(7) Hugo (or Hugh)

Finally, Hugo. My husband and I considered it for our last two sons and loved that it’s weighty but sweet at the same time, is familiar but uncommon (no. 460), and doesn’t have a nickname. Hugh is a variant that’s also quite nice! (It’s no. 795.)

And those are my ideas, a mix of research and gut feeling! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the baby sister or brother of Simon, Margaret/Maggie, Louis, Benedict/Ben, and Theodore/Theo?


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 an affiliate link) — 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!

Birth announcement: Elanor Josephine!

I just published a post in honor of St. Rita that I don’t want you to miss — today’s her feast day! She’s been a powerful intercessor for me and others I know, and writing about her is my little way of fulfilling my promises made in the novena to her I often say.

I did a private consultation for Keri and her husband a few months ago, and I’m delighted to share that their baby girl has been born and given the gorgeous name … Elanor Josephine!

Keri writes,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know our little one arrived a few weeks ago (on big brother Gabe’s birthday). We named her Elanor Josephine.

We took your advice and used Tolkein’s spelling — I have always loved that the story didn’t end after the ring was destroyed — that the hobbits had to go back to Hobbiton and still had to deal with the after effects of the ring’s influence — I like the symbolism that life goes on, even amidst the battles we must fight, but there is always hope. She was also named after Eleanor Donnelly — a Catholic American Poet from the Civil War era who I discovered when I realized that Elanor was a strong contender — this was a gift! She was highly revered during her time, and I feel that she needs to be reintroduced to our generation — her poems written during the Civil War are haunting but infused with hope as well. Her poems for children are simple, but pack so much in them that I discover something new each time I read them. Her books are free online.

[Hubby] wasn’t thrilled with Josephine at first, but with your prompting and after the coronavirus pandemic began, he warmed up fast — While Maisie Ward is unquestionably one of her namesakes,* we felt that having St. Joseph as her patron, especially during this time of unpredictability, was a fitting tribute to the great saint who guided his own family during times of uncertainty. It’s also a family name on my side: my grandmother’s middle name and my great grandmother’s name — I have the rosary both women were given for their Confirmation, so it seems fitting to have one daughter as their namesake for whom to gift the heirloom.

We thought when we brought her home she would go by Posie, but the kids overruled us and Ellie is her nickname, except for our feisty 5 year old who insists on Posie.”

I’m so excited that one of my suggestions — the Tolkien spelling Elanor — was helpful to Keri and her hubby! I absolutely love the combination Elanor Josephine, and how meaningful it is to her parents, and how it gives a little nod to “this time of unpredictability” in a pretty perfect way. And I’m thrilled to be introduced to Eleanor Donnelly! I know a lot of you will likely be, too!

* Keri really wanted to nod to Maisie Ward, wife of Frank Sheed — they were members of the Catholic Evidence League in London and created Sheed and Ward, a publishing house that specialized in Catholic authors. Among their friends (who they also published) were GK Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Marigold Hunt, Daphne McCloud, and Caryll Houselander who were all part of the winding down of the English Catholic Literary Revival. Maisie’s given name was Mary Josephine, hence the mention of her in regard to this baby’s middle name.

Congratulations to Keri and her husband and big siblings (all the heart eyes over these beautiful names!!):

Isabel Eden (Izzy)
Gabriel Crispin (Gabe)
Elijah Bryce (Eli)
Lydia Quinn (Quinn)
Aurelia Triss (Raya)
Madeline Grace and Mary Grace (in heaven)

and happy birthday Baby Elanor!!

Kids Portrait

Elanor Josephine with her big siblings ❤


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!

 

Birth announcement: Benedict Campion Marie!

I posted a birth announcement for Teresa’s first baby almost two years ago, and I’m thrilled to share that she’s had her second baby — another boy! She and her hubby gave him the fantastic and so Marian name … Benedict Campion Marie!

Teresa writes,

As promised here’s a bit behind our baby’s name. Benedict Campion Marie was born today! Glory to Jesus Christ!

Mostly I love the name Benedict, I think it’s strong and lovely … We don’t have much of a devotion to St Benedict but I have found that as we teach Emil about Father Kapaun our love and friendship with him grows and hope that will be the same with St Benedict. Campion is after St Edmund Campion, who was known as a great orator and debater. My husband and I met on the debate team in college and spent our first years of marriage traveling the world teaching debate, so when I heard that about St Edmund I sort of fell in love. Benedict was due in May and our girls name was very Marian. I felt like we needed to honor Our Lady with his name too but didn’t want to give up Benedict Campion. So we decided to add on Marie and I absolutely love it. He was due the 10th but came early (hallelujah!) and just squeaked in being born in the month of Mary.

While we were in the hospital my husband was looking up the name Benedict in other languages and somehow we had missed that the etymological root translates to “well spoken” which with our reasoning for Campion seemed all too perfect and divinely orchestrated!

How great is this story and this name?!! I love it!! And Marie as a second middle!! We totally need to bring that back for boys — hurray for Teresa and her hubby to do so!! But really, I didn’t expect anything less, after what and how they named their first baby — I had linked to their telling of it on Instagram, but for those of you who don’t have IG, I just watched it again and took these notes on how they decided on the name Emil Byrd for their son:

His first name is after Fr. Emil Kapaun, whose cause for canonization is open. Not only does he have a great, heroic story that includes ministering to the soldiers even during battle, receiving the Medal of Honor, and being a prisoner of war (during which he died), but he’s also from the same small town that Teresa’s hubby is from!

His middle name is for William Byrd, who was a sixteenth-century English composer for Queen Elizabeth. He was Catholic at a time when it was illegal to practice the faith, including having Mass said, so the faithful had Masses celebrated secretly in their homes. William Byrd composed parts of the Mass to be sung in homes during that time. Additionally, Teresa’s husband is William as well, so Byrd is a little nod to him too.

They hoped that, like his namesakes, their Emil Byrd would find beauty in the Church, be courageous, and exemplify selfless compassion to others.

I know you’ll agree with me that Teresa and her hubby have done an amazing job naming their boys! Congratulations to the whole family, and happy birthday Baby Benedict!!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Benedict Campion Marie


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!

Spotlight on: Romilly

Happy Friday of the Octave of Easter!! (A meat Friday!)

You all must know that one of my favorite things is to find Catholic meaning in names that don’t otherwise come across as Catholic. Tiffany and Miles are two examples — I loved finding out that Tiffany has medieval roots and refers to the Epiphany via its other name, Theophany; it used to be given to girls born on that feast day. And of course you’ve heard me babble on about how Miles is one of my favorite discoveries (it has a history of usage in Ireland as an anglicization of the Old Irish name Maolmhuire, meaning “servant of the Blessed Virgin Mary”). Both of them are names that, generally speaking, people wouldn’t know have such impeccable faith connections. I find such discoveries to be thrilling!

I came across another one recently: Romilly.

I don’t know what your impression of Romilly is, but mine has always been: very British feel; easy to say and spell but very uncommon; a pretty look, rhythm, and sound; all in all, a pretty cool name. Additionally, I knew that actress Emma Thompson named her daughter Gaia Romilly. The Baby Name Wizard says, “Only anglophiles and name-ophiles are likely to know this name,” and offers as style matches such treats as Sidony (another of my favorite discoveries!), Jessamine, Briony, Barnaby, and Pippin.

(As an amusing side note, when I asked Mr. Nomina what his impression of Romilly is, he seemed unfamiliar with it but said it reminded him of Romulan/Romulus, “so it’s a good Star Trek name” 😂😂😂; remoulade; and Amélie. So make of that what you will.)

Hubby wasn’t far off with Romulus, though, and that’s where Romilly’s Catholic-ness comes from: according to Behind the Name, Romilly is from an English surname derived from the names of several Norman towns whose names were ultimately derived from Romulus — the name of the mythological co-founder of Rome, and that actually means “of Rome” in Latin. So Romilly is from the Latin for “of Rome,” and if that isn’t Catholicky Catholic (in a fun, sneaky way!), I don’t know what is! (I’ve written similarly about the names Roman and Tiber.)

Though even nickname-loving me would probably want to use the full Romilly always, Romy and Milly are sweet nicknames. What others? Because I love to brainstorm nicknames, maybe Molly and Lily? It also makes me think of Rilla, like Rilla of Ingleside (though of course, there Rilla is a nickname for Marilla, specifically Anne and Gil’s daughter Bertha Marilla Blythe. So maybe if you like Rilla but not Marilla and you want a longer given name, Romilly’s your girl? Or have I gone too far??)

What do you think of Romilly? Would you consider it for a daughter (or a son — Behind the Name and the Baby Name Wizard both say it’s used for both boys and girls, though I’ve only ever thought of it as a girl’s name), or have you named a child Romilly? Do you know anyone named Romilly? Do they like their name? Do they go by a nickname?


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!

Baby name consultation: Girl name needed for baby no. 6 (British-y/Irish-y/Celtic-y)

Mary Beth and her husband are expecting their sixth baby, a little green bean (=gender unknown)! This little one joins big sibs:

Reese Joseph (“Joseph is a family name that runs through both sides of our family as a middle name. He is named after St. Joseph, protector of the holy family. Reese means ardour or enthusiasm and I think that fits his personality well.”)

Finnian Michael (Finn)We picked Finnian for both the Irish saint namesake as well as the nickname derived from it. We loved the nickname Finn and worked backwards from there, finding a saint that would match that. It was either Finnian or Finbarr so for us the choice was easy. Michael is in honor of the great Archangel as well as honoring my deceased brother.”

John Thomas (sometimes called Jack)John is named specifically for St. John the Apostle (the one whom Jesus loved!) but there are really so many great saints out there with that name that we couldn’t go wrong. It is also the name of a beloved Grandpa (who was named John but often went by Jack). Thomas is for St. Thomas Aquinas – and our John is really such a little philosopher at heart.”

Lucy Rose (“We picked Lucy because it is pretty, and light, distinctly feminine, but also fits better with the shorter names of our first three than say, Philomena or Benedicta. I loved that St. Lucy was such a beautiful model of purity. Rose is a nod to our Our Lady of Guadalupe and to St. Rose of Lima. She is also named after my Grandma Rose Lucy.“)

Gabriel John (also referred to as Gabey, Gabe) (“I have always loved the name Gabriel but never used it on any of our boys previously. I hadn’t even considered it for this child until one day in adoration I asked God what the name of this child was supposed to be (we knew he was a boy) and shortly after I began praying the joyful mysteries. Once I got to the Annunciation the name clicked in and it became number one on my list. After discovering that my husband had no qualms with the name and that it’s meaning is “God is my strength”, we never looked back. Also he was born 4 days after Christmas and I think that Gabriel fits so nicely into the season. His middle name was picked for St. John Vianney and also is my husbands middle name.”)

I loooove all of these!! Of course I couldn’t help but notice that the style of names changed somewhat as their family grew, which Mary Beth addresses:

Our style has become refined over the years in regards to our children’s names. When we started with our oldest, we were young and newly married – and hadn’t thought much about the names that our children would have. Over time we’ve come to see how important the naming of a child is – a name that will stay with them for all eternity!

I love seeing how a couple’s taste in names changes as life goes on — it’s so fun to see where they started and where they are now! Some couples change a lot and some change very little; some start with more conservative taste and become bolder, and some do just the opposite. Working with the population of families that I do, I’ve also seen quite a few couples who’ve had conversion experiences or whose faith has deepened as time goes on, and their babies’ names often reflect that. One of my favorite things is helping find names that loop in the siblings with the outlying names, that provide bridges between the styles while still having great faith connections.

Mary Beth continues,

We love names that are clearly masculine for boys and feminine for girls, especially since Reese’s name has since gained in popularity for girls. We also sneak in family names as much as possible. We require that at least the first name is a saint’s name, biblical name or Marian name.

One interesting twist to our naming process with this child is that we have agreed that my husband get’s to name this child if he is a boy and I will pick the name if she is a girl (we each have veto power however if we really hate the name). Hubby prefers straightforward names, simple names, masculine names (for a boy). I prefer longer names, beautiful names, names with meaning and history.

For this baby (#6) we found out that I was pregnant on the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the due date is one day after the Assumption of Mary in August (exactly one year after our family consecrated ourselves to Mary’s Immaculate Heart!), so I feel like Our Lady’s fingerprints are all over this child. We would love to give him or her a Marian name (either first or middle) to honor that. Your book has given me some great ideas as well as solidified some names for me that I had already been considering but did not know of the Marian connection.

Names I like for girls (in a loose order of preference):

Esther: I love the sound of this name, that there’s 2 syllables (one syllable has been done a lot in our family and yet I worry that 3 syllables is a stretch). I also enjoy that this name is well-known enough but not popular today. Esther is one of my favorite bible heroines and the name of a very sweet aunt. Essie as a nickname is precious. Husband thinks it’s ok.

Felicity: I like that it means happiness; also the uncommonness and the sound of the name. While I love the name I’m not sure of a good viable nn for it, since Lucy and “Lissy” sounds too similar. Name is growing on Hubby.

Clementine : I love this name — Marian and family connection! And how cute is Clemmie? I have a bit of an attraction to certain literary names that I grew up reading, especially British ones. For instance, I would love to have a Louisa as a nod to Louisa May Alcott, but it would not jive with Lucy. Hubby gives thumbs up.

Ruth : A favorite bible heroine but also just like the name and the simplicity goes with our family’s style. The simplicity makes it an easier sell for my husband.

Margaret : My mom’s name who I would love to honor. Not sure about a nickname? I don’t care for Maggie, Gretta, Marge or Molly. I could see using Etta but I don’t know if it’s too far-fetched.

Hope : I don’t have much reason for liking hope (except for the attributable virtue) but I haven’t been able to shake the name ever since hearing of an acquaintance with the name – it’s just so pretty! I read in one of your posts that Hope could be named after Our Lady of Hope – which I love! Hubby approves.

Elisabeth : It is pretty common but so lovely and classic, biblical and British (I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). We would have to do some work to find a nickname for it because my nn is Betty and Lissy sounds too similar to Lucy. I do like Liesel for nn but awfully close again to Lucy.

Mary : Obviously a great name! – and has a triple family connection since it’s my first name, my mother’s middle name and our Blessed Mother’s name. Maybe overused since it’s my first name, although I often go by a nickname. If used it would likely be a middle name or a first name in a case where we call her by her middle name (as in Mary Clementine but called Clementine).

Middle names:

Immaculata
Maristella or Stellamaris
Regina
Henrietta
Marie
Verity
Frances
Therese
(any unused first name/)

Alice [is] also [a] contender … [it] is more Hubby’s preference (I have hesitations on the name since I don’t like the nickname Ali and I didn’t know there was a saint Alice but in the meantime I have found one) … I do find that each other’s preferences will sway the other to some degree so we might not want to cross [it] out.”

I’m not surprised that Mary Beth said that she has an affinity for British names, as her children’s name have a definite Irish/Celtic/British Isles feel to me. I love it! Reese and Finnian are most obvious; John Thomas is a huge name in my Irish family, and even though Jack is so popular now, it always ultimately makes me think of an Irish boy/man. I love St. Lucy, but when I hear Lucy my first thought is always Narnia! And I’ve often suggested Gabriel to families with an Irishy sensibility, citing actor Gabriel Byrne as a great example of Gabriel’s usage in Ireland. So that’s really where my mind went when coming up with ideas for this family.

It’s an interesting twist that Mary Beth’s hubs gets to choose the name for this baby if they have a boy, and MB gets to name a girl! I’ve known other couples who have done similarly, but I’m most surprised by the fact that it sounds like they didn’t do so with their previous children! (That would make an excellent basis for a Fun Friday Question …)

You have to know how excited I am to read, as Mary Beth says, “Our Lady’s fingerprints all over this child”! And I’m so glad that my book was helpful to them! A few of the ideas I had for this baby are in my book, so I’m a little worried that, since MB didn’t have them on her list, she’s already decided against them, but maybe a good argument in favor of them is all that’s needed?

First though, these are my thoughts on the names Mary Beth likes for a girl:

  • Esther: I do love it! And I love her reasons for loving it — the fact that she has a personal connection with the biblical figure and that it’s a family name. I admit it seems to me a little mismatched with her other kids, but the family connection definitely trumps that I think, and I agree that Essie is darling! (Hmm … but maybe too much like Lucy?)
  • Felicity: I love it too, and I think it goes great with the older kids. Nicknames often seem to be problematic for parents considering Felicity! Lucy and Lissy are too similar, I agree, but there are others, like Flick and Flicka, Lily, Fin, Zita, Fee, Felly, and Liddy — these were all discussed in the spotlight I did of Felicity a while ago.
  • Ruth: I love Ruth, and I think of it as similar to Esther, so normally I might think of it as a mismatch for the other kids, BUT the only Ruth I know in real life is native Irish! And of course she goes by Ruthie, which of course they’d have to call her, it’s the sweetest!
  • Margaret: Oh man, I would have a hard time not choosing Margaret if I were Mary Beth! Her mom’s name! And a fantastic match with the older kids! I think Etta is totally fine and not too farfetched at all! Other nicknames for it that she didn’t mention include Margo, Madge, Mae/May, Mamie, Meg, Peggy, and Rita, but my very favorites for this family are Maisie and Daisy! Maisie is a Celtic (Irish&Scottish) diminutive of Margaret, and Daisy is a traditional nickname for it (since the French form of Margaret is also the name of the daisy flower in French: marguerite) — I think both would be amazing with the other kids! I could also see something like Margaret Eve nicknaming to Maeve, which I think would be really cool (I have Daisy, Eve, and Maeve in my book!).
  • Hope: I agree with MB, there’s something about Hope! Yes, it can be for Our Lady of Hope!
  • Elisabeth: I love this spelling! Elizabeth/Elisabeth has SO MANY nicknames! Some of my favorites are Betsy (probably too close to Betty?), Libby, Liddy, Ellie, and Tess, but they’re all so great! Elisabeth can also shorten to Elise, which is so pretty.
  • Mary: Oh yes! I like Mary Beth’s plan to have it be a middle, or a hidden first name.
  • [Alice: I don’t think people tend to nickname Alice? I mean, Alison seems very nicknameable — I feel like most Alisons go by Ali at least sometimes during their lives, but Alice has a more distinguished feel (while also being so sweet), I don’t know, I don’t think I’d ever find myself casually nicknaming an Alice. Maybe Ali’s used more than I thought!]

I looove Mary Beth’s list of middle name ideas!! Immaculata, Maristella/Stellmaris, Regina, and Marie are especially perfect to honor Our Lady with a non-Marian first name, while Henrietta, Verity, Frances, and Therese would be great as a middle name for a Marian first name.

Alrighty, as you all know, I always start a consultation by looking up the names the parents have used and those they like/are considering in the Baby Name Wizard as it lists, for each name, boy and girl names that are similar in terms of style/feel/popularity. As I mentioned before, I also really had my eye out for Irish-y/Celtic-y/British-y type names, not only because I get that vibe from Mary Beth’s kids as a whole, but also because as I mentioned I really try to loop in any siblings with names that are kind of outliers, and her oldest two — especially Reese — are starting to have that feel. And I looked through my book as well! With all that in mind, these are my additional ideas for this baby, if a girl:

(1) Beatrice or Beatrix
I’m not sure which I like better here, Beatrice or Beatrix! I have them in my book — they mean “she who blesses, makes happy, delights,” which is an amazing meaning for a little girl, and a great connection to Our Lady! Bea is a great nickname, and I like Tris and Trixie too! Beatrice is a style match for both Clementine and Alice.

(2) Juliet
Julia is a match for John and Juliet for Felicity and Hope, and of them, I like Juliet quite a bit for this family, but they’re both lovely! I did a spotlight of the Julia names a while ago, complete with patron saints. The Juliette spelling is French and frilly, but the Juliet spelling is more in keeping with the older kids I think.

(3) Annabel(le)
Annabelle is also match for Felicity and Hope, and I immediately thought of Annabel in my book: it arose in Scotland in the middle ages as a variant of Amabel, which is a variant of Amabilis, which is part of the Marian title Mater Amabilis (Mother Most Amiable)! I think it’s so lovely, and Annie as a nickname sounds perfect as Lucy’s sister!

(4) Susanna
Speaking of Annie: Anna, Hannah, and Susannah all were results of my research as well, and of them, I thought Susanna might be perfect! It’s also in my book, as it means both “lily” and “rose” in Hebrew, which could make for a nice connection with sister Lucy Rose! Susannah has a heavier Old Testament feel (more along the lines of Esther and Ruth), while Susanna is New Testament and saintly — and in fact, St. Susanna’s feast day is August 11! The same month this baby is due!

(5) Miriam
Lovely Miriam fits right in with Esther and Ruth, and it’s Marian to boot! Mary Beth’s husband likes some Old Testament names too, so I like that Miriam might appeal to both of them. Miri and Mimi are sweet nicknames as well.

(6) Maura or Moira
Speaking of variants of Mary, since we’re (or, at least I’m) talking about Irish-y names, I wonder if Mary Beth might like to consider one of the Irish forms of Mary? It would be a neat way of connecting her first name, her mom’s middle name, and of course Our Lady in a new way in her daughter’s name. I love both Maura and Moira!

(7) Nora
Nora isn’t as obviously faithy as some of my other ideas, but it kept tugging me as a perfect fit for this family! Though it’s got good usage as a given name in its own right, it’s a short form of either Honora or Eleanor, either of which could provide a patron (Bl. Archangela Girlani’s birth name was Eleanor, and there’s a Bl. Eleanora as well; Venerable Honora Nagle would do also). A name like this might be best paired with one of the heavy hitting Marian middles, like Nora Maristella or Nora Clementine.

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What name(s) would you suggest for the little sister of Reese, Finnian, John, Lucy, and Gabriel?


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!