This name is borne by a Jewish woman in Walter Scott's novel Ivanhoe (1819), as well as the title character (who is deceased and unseen) in Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca (1938).
The name has been used by kings of Scotland, Poland and Yugoslavia, emperors of Russia, and eight popes. Other notable bearers include English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor of the telephone.
The name became regularly used in the Christian world due to the fame of Saint Anthony the Great, a 4th-century Egyptian hermit who founded Christian monasticism. Its popularity was reinforced in the Middle Ages by the 13th-century Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of Portugal. It has been commonly (but incorrectly) associated with Greek ἄνθος (anthos) meaning "flower", which resulted in the addition of the h to this spelling in the 17th century.
As an English given name, Christopher has been in general use since the 15th century. It became very popular in the second half of the 20th century, reaching the top of the charts for England and Wales in the 1980s, and nearing it in the United States.
In Denmark this name was borne by three kings (their names are usually spelled Christoffer), including the 15th-century Christopher of Bavaria who also ruled Norway and Sweden. Other famous bearers include Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), English playwright Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), English architect Christopher Wren (1632-1723) and the fictional character Christopher Robin from A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh books.
After the Protestant Reformation it was occasionally used as a given name in the English-speaking world, and it became somewhat common in America due to the fame of the revolutionary Ethan Allen (1738-1789). It only became popular towards the end of the 20th century. It is the name of the main character in Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome (1911), about a man in love with his wife's cousin.
Heinrich was popular among continental royalty, being the name of seven German kings, starting with the 10th-century Henry I the Fowler, and four French kings. In France it was usually rendered Henri from the Latin form Henricus.
The Normans introduced the French form to England, and it was subsequently used by eight kings, ending with the infamous Henry VIII in the 16th century. During the later Middle Ages it was fairly popular, and was generally rendered as Harry or Herry in English pronunciation. Notable bearers include arctic naval explorer Henry Hudson (1570-1611), British novelist Henry James (1843-1916), American automobile manufacturer Henry Ford (1863-1947), and American actor Henry Fonda (1905-1982).
American writers Jack London (1876-1916) and Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) were two famous bearers of this name. It is also borne by the actor Jack Nicholson (1937-) and the golfer Jack Nicklaus (1940-). Apart from Nicklaus, none of these famous bearers were given the name Jack at birth.
In the United Kingdom this form has been bestowed more frequently than John since the 1990s, being the most popular name for boys from 1996 to 2008.
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).
In the Middle Ages, Joseph was a common Jewish name, being less frequent among Christians. In the late Middle Ages Saint Joseph became more highly revered, and the name became popular in Spain and Italy. In England it became common after the Protestant Reformation. In the United States it has stayed within the top 25 names for boys since 1880, making it one of the most enduringly popular names of this era.
This name was borne by rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Portugal. Other notable bearers include the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith (1805-1844), Polish-British author Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1878-1953).
The popularity of the saint led to the name being used by nine Byzantine emperors, including Michael VIII Palaeologus who restored the empire in the 13th century. It has been common in Western Europe since the Middle Ages, and in England since the 12th century. It has been borne (in various spellings) by rulers of Russia (spelled Михаил), Romania (Mihai), Poland (Michał), and Portugal (Miguel).
In the United States, this name rapidly gained popularity beginning in the 1930s, eventually becoming the most popular male name from 1954 to 1998. However, it was not as overwhelmingly common in the United Kingdom, where it never reached the top spot.
Famous bearers of this name include the British chemist/physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867), musician Michael Jackson (1958-2009), and basketball player Michael Jordan (1963-).
It has been used as a Christian given name in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Nathan Hale (1755-1776), an American spy executed by the British during the American Revolution.
Due to the renown of the saint, this name has been widely used in the Christian world. It has been common in England since the 12th century, though it became a bit less popular after the Protestant Reformation. The name has been borne by five popes and two czars of Russia.
In England Oliver was a common medieval name, however it became rare after the 17th century because of the military commander Oliver Cromwell, who ruled the country following the civil war. The name was revived in the 19th century, perhaps due in part to the title character in Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist (1838), which was about a poor orphan living on the streets of London. It became very popular at the beginning of the 21st century, reaching the top rank for boys in England and Wales in 2009 and entering the top ten in the United States in 2017.
In the United States this name steadily grew in popularity through the 1950s and 60s. It shot up the charts after the release of the 1970 movie Ryan's Daughter. Within a few years it was in the top 20 names, where it would stay for over three decades. Famous bearers include the Canadian actors Ryan Reynolds (1976-) and Ryan Gosling (1980-).
In England the name was introduced by the Normans and became very popular due to Saint Thomas Becket, a 12th-century archbishop of Canterbury and martyr. It was reliably among the top five most common English names for boys from the 13th to the 19th century, and it has remained consistently popular to this day.
Another notable saint by this name was the 13th-century Italian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, who is regarded as a Doctor of the Church. Other famous bearers include philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), American president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), and inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931).
This name was later borne by three other English kings, as well as rulers of Scotland, Sicily (of Norman origin), the Netherlands and Prussia. Other famous bearers include William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish hero, and William Tell, a legendary 14th-century Swiss hero (called Wilhelm in German, Guillaume in French and Guglielmo in Italian). In the literary world it was borne by dramatist William Shakespeare (1564-1616), poet William Blake (1757-1827), poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), dramatist William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), author William Faulkner (1897-1962), and author William S. Burroughs (1914-1997).
In the American rankings (since 1880) this name has never been out of the top 20, making it one of the most consistently popular names (although it has never reached the top rank). In modern times its short form, Liam, has periodically been more popular than William itself, in the United Kingdom in the 1990s and the United States in the 2010s.