FROM the sentimentality of Edwardian times to the setting of virtuous examples of the Victorian era, the trend for old-fashioned baby names is nothing new.
But parents across the country are delving even further into the past when choosing a name for their newborns, according to a survey which reveals a surge in popularity for medieval monikers.
Names dating back to the Middle Ages are proving a good fit in the 21st century, the poll of nearly 4,000 parents has found.
The surprise resurgence of medieval names coincides with the widespread popularity of television series and films inspired by the Middle Ages, such as Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
One of the top names to re-emerge is Ned, a name which has recently found fame again via the headstrong character player by Sean Bean in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark.
Other boys’ names to regain popularity include Peyton, Wyatt and Audley, while for girls, names like Millicent, Elvina and Kendra are on the rise.
The poll showed the medieval choices are edging out so-called fantasy names such as Prince, Princess and Crystal, which are increasingly falling out of favour.
Indeed, some names given to newborns are directly inspired by Game of Thrones, such as Khaleesi, invented by the author of the original books as a title indicating status and now being used as a girls’ name, with 146 babies so named across Britain.
Two in five of the 3,961 parents surveyed said that they picked a name that was last popular more than 350 years ago, while a similar number said that such names have grown in popularity in their area this year.
Founder of online forum Netmums, Siobhan Freegard, said the results of the survey bucked the trend for baby names, which usually ebb and flow in and out of popularity over the course of a single century.
She said: “Baby names usually work on an 80-year cycle of popularity, but some of the Olde English names coming back haven’t been in fashion for 800 years. However, they tick all the boxes for modern parents, being unusual but traditional, and cool but not too wacky.”
The poll threw up several other unusual examples of name choices among new parents, including Cole and Alfred for boys, along with Kim and Winnie for girls.
The new trend means the recent popularity of Edwardian-style names such as Mabel and Stanley could begin to dip. The survey also found the second most prominent name fad is customised spellings, with nearly one in five parents having altered a name, for example replacing Chantel with Shantelle.
“Blended cultural” names which represent both parents’ ethnic heritage are also growing in popularity, with 6 per cent of those surveyed opting for a blend, such as Sophia Patel and Jackson Hussein. One in eight mothers chooses their baby’s name before they are even pregnant, although the most popular time to choose is between the twentieth week of pregnancy and the baby’s birth.
Nearly one in five parents admitted they chose to keep a new baby name secret as a friend or relation had previously “stolen” a name they hoped to use.
Whatever the choice, ensuring the name went well with the family surname was seen as the most important consideration, with 32 per cent of parents picking a name on that basis.
The survey has the top six boys and girls medieval names
2 Alfred, above
3 Kim or Kym