Names of the Week: Faye and Gordon

Gordon Brown, from

I reckon the name Gordon may not immediately seem like a name you would want to bestow upon your new bundle of joy, perhaps because your first though is the UK’s former PM, or even that chef no one likes. Either way, there are some good points to consider.

The name originates as a Scottish surname coming from the Welsh gor, meaning spacious, and din meaning fort

The name could also have Jewish roots from Lithuania as a habitational name from the Belorussian city of Grodno. It goes back at least to 1657. Various suggestions or various plausibility have been put forward as to its origin. There is a family tradition among some bearers that they are descended from a son of a Duke of Gordon, who converted to Judaism in the 18th century, but the Jewish surname was in existence long before the 18th century; their are others who claim descent from earlier Scottish converts.

Where Gordon got his boost from is likely to be Charles George Gordon, a much celebrated British general who was killed in battle whilst defending the city of Khartoum in the Sudan in 1885.

It’s also worth noting that there are 4 small towns named Gourdon in France, alongside a village in Aberdeenshire. There is speculation that the name came from France to Scotland at some point, perhaps in the aftermath of the Norman invasion in 1066, since there was a similarly named place in normandy at the time.

The Gordon Clan in Scotland stretches back to Robert de Gordun, the first family member on record in the mid-12th Century.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Gordon Brown is a notable bearer, even though he was born James Gordon Brown in 1951 to a father whose middle name was Ebenezer. It’s also worth noting that Mr. Ramsay was born Gordon James.

14 male Gordon were born in England&Wales in 2009, that’s more than double the 6 born in Scotland in 2010. In 2006, the year before Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, that number was 15, which dropped to 9 in the following year, 2007. In 2005, 24 Gordon were born in Scotland, so it’s fair to say the numbers were falling prior to Mr. Brown himself falling in the popularity polls. 

Now onto Faye. She may seem like a simple name, but she’s anything but with three possible origins. For one part, she may simply have come about as a short form of the virtue name Faith, emerging much like Jack and Bill did from their long form counterparts.

On the other hand, she could come from the Middle English word faie, meaning fairy. Or even coming from the Irish surname Ó Fataigh which can be anglicised down to Faye, which is also used as a surname.

She could also come from an Old French word meaning loyalty.

The most notable bearer of the name Fay is likely to be Morgan le Fay, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Arthurian legends. A sorceress, she was King Arthur’s half-sister.

In terms of Faye’s popularity, it’s a whole different story from Gordon’s. In 2009 in England&Wales she sat at #144. I also personally know of a handful of parents who’ve opted for her in the middle spot as an alternative to May, a rather popular middle name. And that could be Faye’s niche, she’s understated and has the simplicity many of us strive for, chances are though that’s why she’s currently so well used, and could rise even further in the future. As for the alternate spelling Fay, she’s faired less well in the charts, in 2009 she ranked at a lowly #806.

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One thought on “Names of the Week: Faye and Gordon

  1. Wow interesting histories of Gordon and Faye! I never guessed these rather dated-sounding names were so fascinating!


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