As an English name, Abigail first became common after the Protestant Reformation, and it was popular among the Puritans. The biblical Abigail refers to herself as a servant, and beginning in the 17th century the name became a slang term for a servant, especially after the release of the play The Scornful Lady (1616), which featured a character named Abigail. The name went out of fashion at that point, but it was revived in the 20th century.
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.
This name experienced a rise in popularity at the end of the 20th century. It was the most popular name for girls in England and Wales from 2011 to 2015.
In England, this Latin form has been used alongside the vernacular forms Ann and Anne since the late Middle Ages. Anna is currently the most common of these spellings in all English-speaking countries (since the 1970s), however the biblical form Hannah is presently more popular than all three.
The name was borne by several Russian royals, including an 18th-century empress of Russia. It is also the name of the main character in Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina (1877), about a married aristocrat who begins an ultimately tragic relationship with Count Vronsky.
The name was borne by a 17th-century English queen and also by the second wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn (the mother of Queen Elizabeth I), who was eventually beheaded in the Tower of London. This is also the name of the heroine in Anne of Green Gables (1908) by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery.
Arthur is the name of the central character in Arthurian legend, a 6th-century king of the Britons who resisted Saxon invaders. He may or may not have been based on a real person. He first appears in Welsh poems and chronicles (perhaps briefly in the 7th-century poem Y Gododdin and more definitively and extensively in the 9th-century History of the Britons by Nennius ). However, his character was not developed until the chronicles of the 12th-century Geoffrey of Monmouth . His tales were later taken up and expanded by French and English writers.
The name came into general use in England in the Middle Ages due to the prevalence of Arthurian romances, and it enjoyed a surge of popularity in the 19th century. Famous bearers include German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), mystery author and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), and science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008).
In England the name became rare after the Middle Ages, but it was revived in the 19th century, more commonly in the spelling Beatrice. Famous bearers include the British author and illustrator Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), the creator of Peter Rabbit, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (1938-).
As an English name, Benjamin came into general use after the Protestant Reformation. A famous bearer was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), an American statesman, inventor, scientist and philosopher.
In the Middle Ages this name was common in England due to the popularity of medieval tales about the Trojan War. It subsequently became rare, but was revived in the 20th century.
This name has been used in Britain since the Middle Ages. It has been especially popular in Wales, where it is used in honour of the 5th-century patron saint of Wales (also called Dewi), as well as in Scotland, where it was borne by two kings. Over the last century it has been one of the English-speaking world's most consistently popular names, never leaving the top 30 names for boys in the United States, and reaching the top rank in England and Wales during the 1950s and 60s. In Spain it was the most popular name for boys during the 1970s and 80s.
Famous bearers include empiricist philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), explorer David Livingstone (1813-1873), musician David Bowie (1947-2016), and soccer player David Beckham (1975-). This is also the name of the hero of Charles Dickens' semi-autobiographical novel David Copperfield (1850).
Famous bearers of the name include the English poet Edmund Spenser (1552-1599), the German-Czech philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) and New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), the first person to climb Mount Everest.
The popularity of the name Eleanor in England during the Middle Ages was due to the fame of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as two queens of the following century: Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry III, and Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I. More recently, it was borne by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), the wife of American president Franklin Roosevelt.
There was a medieval English form of this name, Helewis, though it died out after the 13th century. In the 19th century it was revived in the English-speaking world in the form Eloise.
After the Norman Conquest this name became common in England. It was revived in the 18th century, perhaps in part due to Matthew Prior's 1709 poem Henry and Emma . It was also used by Jane Austen for the central character, the matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, in her novel Emma (1816).
In the United States, it was third in rank in 1880 (behind only the ubiquitous Mary and Anna). It declined steadily over the next century, beginning another rise in the 1980s and eventually becoming the most popular name for girls in 2008. At this time it also experienced similar levels of popularity elsewhere, including the United Kingdom (where it began rising a decade earlier), Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
This name has been used in the English-speaking world since the Protestant Reformation. In America it received a boost in popularity after the birth of Esther Cleveland (1893-1980), the daughter of President Grover Cleveland .
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.
Despite this potentially negative association, the name was occasionally used by Christians during the Middle Ages. In the English-speaking world both Eve and the Latin form Eva were revived in the 19th century, with the latter being more common.
The Normans brought the name to England in the 11th century but it quickly died out. It was reintroduced by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century. A famous bearer was Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), an American ex-slave who became a leading advocate of abolition.
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).
This name has traditionally been more popular among Eastern Christians. In the English-speaking world it was not regularly used until the 19th century.
In medieval Arthurian legend Isolde was an Irish princess betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall. After accidentally drinking a love potion, she became the lover of his knight Tristan, which led to their tragic deaths. The story was popular during the Middle Ages and the name became relatively common in England at that time. It was rare by the 19th century, though some interest was generated by Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde (1865).
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.
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.
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.
It has been common as a given name in the English-speaking world only since the 18th century. A famous modern bearer is American actress Julia Roberts (1967-).
As an English name, Laura has been used since the 13th century. Famous bearers include Laura Secord (1775-1868), a Canadian heroine during the War of 1812, and Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), an American author who wrote the Little House on the Prairie series of novels.
As an English Christian name, Levi came into use after the Protestant Reformation.
Apart from royalty, this name was only moderately popular in France during the Middle Ages. After the French Revolution, when Louis XVI was guillotined, it became less common.
The Normans brought the name to England, where it was usually spelled Lewis, though the spelling Louis has been more common in America. Famous bearers include French scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), Métis leader Louis Riel (1844-1885), who led a rebellion against Canada, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), who wrote Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and American jazz musician Louis Armstrong (1901-1971).
Due to the saint's renown, the name became common in the Christian world (in various spellings). As an English name, Luke has been in use since the 12th century alongside the Latin form Lucas. A famous fictional bearer was the hero Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars movies, beginning in 1977.
As an English name it has been very popular since the Middle Ages. It was the top name for girls in England and Wales in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, but it declined in the latter half of the 20th century.
Other saints by this name include a queen of Scotland and a princess of Hungary. It was also borne by Queen Margaret I of Denmark, who united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the 14th century. Famous literary bearers include American writer Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), the author of Gone with the Wind, and Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (1939-). Others include American anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-1978) and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013).
This is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the mother of Jesus. According to the gospels, Jesus was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit while she remained a virgin. This name was also borne by Mary Magdalene, a woman cured of demons by Jesus. She became one of his followers and later witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection.
Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use. In England it has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. In the United States in 1880 it was given more than twice as often as the next most popular name for girls (Anna). It remained in the top rank in America until 1946 when it was bumped to second (by Linda). Although it regained the top spot for a few more years in the 1950s it was already falling in usage, and has since dropped out of the top 100 names.
This name has been borne by two queens of England, as well as a queen of Scotland, Mary Queen of Scots. Another notable bearer was Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the author of Frankenstein. A famous fictional character by this name is Mary Poppins from the children's books by P. L. Travers, first published in 1934.
The Latinized form of this name, Maria, is also used in English as well as in several other languages.
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.
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.
Olivia has been used in the English-speaking world since the 18th century, though it did not become overly popular until the last half of the 20th century. It reached the top rank in England and Wales by 2008 and was ranked second in the United States by 2014. Its rise in popularity was ultimately precipitated by a character on the 1970s television series The Waltons, later reinforced by characters on other television shows .
Due to the saint's popularity, the name came into general use in medieval Europe, especially in Spain and France. It was also borne by a 16th-century king of Portugal who died in a crusade against Morocco.
As an English name it was not used until after the Protestant Reformation. It was utilized by George Eliot for the title character in her novel Silas Marner (1861).
In the New Testament Simon is the name of several characters, including the man who carried the cross for Jesus. Most importantly however it was borne by the leading apostle Simon, also known as Peter (a name given to him by Jesus).
Because of the apostle, this name has been common in the Christian world. In England it was popular during the Middle Ages, though it became more rare after the Protestant Reformation.
This name was common among continental European royalty during the Middle Ages, and it was popularized in Britain by the German House of Hanover when they inherited the British throne in the 18th century. It was the name of characters in the novels Tom Jones (1749) by Henry Fielding and The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) by Oliver Goldsmith.
In the United States this name was only moderately common until the 1990s when it began rising in popularity, eventually becoming the most popular for girls from 2011 to 2013. A famous bearer is the Italian actress Sophia Loren (1934-).
This name appears in the New Testament belonging to a companion of Saint Paul. He became the first bishop of Crete and was the recipient of one of Paul's epistles. This was also the praenomen of all three Roman emperors of the 1st-century Flavian dynasty, and it is the name by which the second of them is commonly known to history. Shakespeare later used it for the main character in his tragedy Titus Andronicus (1593). As an English name, Titus has been occasionally used since the Protestant Reformation.
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.