Research reveals decades-old baby names are making a comeback

Lilibet’s in good company! Research reveals old fashioned names are making a comeback – with Elsie MORE popular than in the Victorian era while Agnes is heading towards the top 100

  • Mary, John, William and Elizabeth were most popular when records began, 1780
  • Names Alfred, Bertie, Frank, Fred, Leonard, and Sidney all saw a peak in 2012 
  • Olive, Violet and Elsie all reached or eclipsed original Victorian-era peak in 2019
  • Most popular names of the 1950s and 60s are yet to see a resurgence
  • Almost all sit lower than top 500 in popularity – with David, Michael and John being exceptions

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced the birth of their new baby daughter, Lilibet Diana – and decades-old data has revealed that they aren’t alone in picking an old-fashioned name.

The 7lbs 11oz baby – whose middle name is Diana – was born on Friday evening, British time in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California, a private facility where births cost up to £20,000.

The Queen’s great-grandchild was named in her honour as ‘Lilibet’ was coined by the 95-year-old monarch when she was too young to pronounce her own name. Harry and Meghan’s daughter, who is eighth in line to the throne, will be known as Lili Diana. 

While not the most common traditional choice, researchers from the family history platform, MyHeritage, revealed the name Lilibet sits outside the top 10,000 for births in the USA and in number 4686 in the UK.  

While not the most common traditional choice, the name Lilibet sits outside the top 10,000 for births in the USA and in number 4686 in the UK. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Yet in recent months, new additions have been given old adages. From Princess Eugenie’s son August to Boris Johnson’s son Wilfred, many new parents are looking to the past while naming their child.

Now, researchers have opened up their archives to find out the traditional baby names are seeing a resurgence in popularity.  

Among the findings include that the most popular names when records began in 1780 were Mary, John, William and Elizabeth.

Alfred, Bertie, Frank, Fred, Leonard, and Sidney all saw a 21st-century peak in 2012, while Olive, Violet and Elsie have all reached or eclipsed their original Victorian-era peak in 2019. 

The research found that the name Alfred, Bertie, Frank, Fred, Leonard, and Sidney all saw a peak in 2012, while Olive, Violet and Elsie all reached or eclipsed original Victorian-era peak in 2019 (pictured)

The results also revealed that the most popular names of the 1950s and 60s are yet to see a resurgence, as almost all now sit lower than the top 500 in popularity – with exceptions being David, Michael and John. 

Meanwhile, those seeking a timeless adage for their child have helped boost the popularity of Bertie, which is up 1,646 places in the rankings, as well as Olive, which has almost reached its 1800s peak once more after almost a century out of the top 100.

Some names have eclipsed their original heyday – including Violet and Elsie which saw higher rankings in 2019 than they did 200 years ago.

Elsewhere, names like Agnes, which peaked in 1910 but dropped out of the top 100 names in 1935, have started to make their way towards the top 100 again.

Sweet family nickname for Queen that inspired Harry and Meghan’s name for their baby daughter 

Lilibet – the Queen’s family nickname – was first used when Princess Elizabeth was just a toddler and unable to pronounce her own name properly.

Her grandfather King George V would affectionately call her ‘Lilibet’ imitating her own attempts to say Elizabeth.

The sweet nickname stuck and she became Lilibet to her family from then on.

The Duke of Edinburgh also referred to his wife as Lilibet, writing to his mother in law after their wedding: ‘Lilibet is the only ‘thing’ in the world which is absolutely real to me.’

Harry and Meghan’s new baby daughter – the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild – will be known as Lili. A variation on Lily, the flower is often seen to symbolise purity, commitment, rebirth and fertility.

Lili’s middle name Diana honours Harry’s later mother Diana, Princess of Wales. It is no surprise the couple chose to pay tribute to Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 when Harry was just 12.

Lili has been born almost a month before the princess would have celebrated her 60th birthday on July 1. Her cousin Princess Charlotte also has Diana as one of her middle names, as well as Elizabeth. She is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

Harry and the Duke of Cambridge are due to unveil a statue of their mother at Kensington Palace on her birthday, but the arrangements have yet to be confirmed, amid a long-reported rift between the brothers.

The Sussexes’ tribute to the Queen is likely to be seen as an olive branch to the monarch and the rest of the family.

Harry and Meghan plunged the Windsors into crisis with their Oprah Winfrey interview in March when they accused an unnamed royal of making a racist remark about their son Archie’s skin tone before he was born.

They also said the institution failed to help Meghan when she was suicidal. But during the televised interview with Winfrey, the Sussexes lauded the Queen.

Harry spoke of his respect for his grandmother, while Meghan said: ‘The Queen… has always been wonderful to me.’

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