As an English name it was highly popular from the Middle Ages until the 17th century. It was revived in the 19th century and was common into the 20th, but it fell into decline after the 1930s. It last appeared on the American top 1000 rankings in 1972.
Among Christians, this name was originally more common in Eastern Europe. It was borne in the 12th century by Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a daughter of King Andrew II who used her wealth to help the poor. In medieval England it was occasionally used in honour of the saint, though the form Isabel (from Occitan and Spanish) was more common. It has been very popular in England since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century. In American name statistics (as recorded since 1880) it has never ranked lower than 30, making it the most consistently popular name for girls in the United States.
Besides Elizabeth I, this name has been borne (in various spellings) by many other European royals, including a ruling empress of Russia in the 18th century. Famous modern bearers include the British queen Elizabeth II (1926-) and actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011).
Famous bearers include the uncrowned English queen Lady Jane Grey (1536-1554), who ruled for only 9 days, British novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817), who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, British primatologist Jane Goodall (1934-), and American actress Jane Fonda (1937-). This is also the name of the central character in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre (1847), which tells of Jane's sad childhood and her relationship with Edward Rochester.
This name has been used in England since the 13th century, though it became more common in Scotland where it was borne by several kings. In the 17th century the Scottish king James VI inherited the English throne, becoming the first ruler of all Britain, and the name grew much more popular. In American name statistics (recorded since 1880) this name has never been out of the top 20, making it arguably the era's most consistently popular name. It was the top ranked name for boys in the United States from 1940 to 1952.
Famous bearers include the English explorer Captain James Cook (1728-1779), the Scottish inventor James Watt (1736-1819), and the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (1882-1941). This name has also been borne by six American presidents. A notable fictional bearer is the British spy James Bond, created by author Ian Fleming.
This name was initially more common among Eastern Christians in the Byzantine Empire, but it flourished in Western Europe after the First Crusade. In England it became extremely popular, typically being the most common male name from the 13th to the 20th century (but sometimes outpaced by William). During the later Middle Ages it was given to approximately a fifth of all English boys. In the United States it was the most common name for boys until 1923.
The name (in various spellings) has been borne by 21 popes and eight Byzantine emperors, as well as rulers of England, France, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Russia and Hungary. It was also borne by the poet John Milton (1608-1674), philosopher John Locke (1632-1704), American founding father and president John Adams (1735-1826), and poet John Keats (1795-1821). Famous bearers of the 20th century include author John Steinbeck (1902-1968), assassinated American president John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), and musician John Lennon (1940-1980).
As an English name, Jonathan did not become common until after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was the Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who wrote Gulliver's Travels and other works.