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.
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).
Though in use elsewhere in Europe, the name was very rare in the English-speaking world until the 19th century, when Queen Victoria began her long rule of Britain. She was named after her mother, who was of German royalty. Many geographic areas are named after the queen, including an Australian state and a Canadian city.
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.
This is one of the few Old English names to be used throughout Europe (in various spellings). A famous bearer was the British composer Edward Elgar (1857-1934). It was also used by author Charlotte Brontë for the character Edward Rochester, the main love interest of the title character in her novel Jane Eyre (1847).
Initially Saint George was primarily revered by Eastern Christians, but returning crusaders brought stories of him to Western Europe and he became the patron of England, Portugal, Catalonia and Aragon. The name was rarely used in England until the German-born George I came to the British throne in the 18th century. Five subsequent British kings have borne the name.
Other famous bearers include two kings of Greece, the composer George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), the first president of the United States, George Washington (1732-1797), and the Pacific explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). This was also the pen name of authors George Eliot (1819-1880) and George Orwell (1903-1950), real names Mary Anne Evans and Eric Arthur Blair respectively.
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.
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.
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.