Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry

It seems that the most popular boy's name in Britain is now Mohammed, or variants thereof. I wonder how long that will last. For most of the 19th century the most popular boy's name was undoubtedly William, which made things confusing for genealogists, though towards the end of the 19th century there seemed to be more variety. Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry | Mail Online:
Mohammed has become the most popular name for newborn boys in Britain.

It shot up from third the previous year, overtaking Jack, which had topped the list for the past 14 years but was relegated to third spot.

Olivia topped the list for little girls for the second year in a row, behind Ruby and Chloe.

A total of 7,549 newborns were given 12 variations of the Islamic prophet Mohammed’s name last year, such as Muhammad and Mohammad.

I wonder about the popularity of Harry -- is that a result of the influence of Prince Harry, or Harry Potter, perhaps. And the popularity of Olivia for girls and Oliver for boys (Oliver would be top if you don't include the variant forms of Mohammed). Many of the top names on the list look like ones that might have been popular about 120 years ago. I had great aunts with names like Ruby. Anyone for Gladys or Agnes?

Another thought -- why do people refer to them as "baby" names. Are people likely to change them when they grow up? Forty years ago the most popular girl's name in the UK was Tracy/Tracey. But that "baby" name is now the name of a lot of middle-aged women. Tracy was quite popular in South Africa too. But I once looked through the baptism register of St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church in Durban North, an upper middle-class suburb, and found the most popular girls names were Jacqueline and Michelle. I wonder if they have now given birth to a bunch of Olivias and Rubies.

The variety, or the lack of it, can make a difference to genealogy. One branch of our family lived in the inland parts of the Western Cape, and there was a sustom there of giving the eldest son the same name as his father, and then calling him "Boet" to distinguish him from his dad. And so you would have a hard time distingishing between people in a small village, where four cousins, born within a few years of each other, are all called Ockert Tobias. A friend of ours said he had an uncle whose first names were Nikolaas Johannes, and his father's had been that, and his grandfather's before him. But since they tended to get called by their initials, his cousin had been registered at birth as Enjay, which both continued the tradition and broke it.

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