Names of the Week: Buster and Harper

Remember yesterday’s post? Well, there was one band I failed to mention who really defined my earlier childhood and started out with the name Buster – but they’re remembered by most as Busted, following a slight change to their name early on. Charlie, James and Matt hit the big time in 2002 with their début single What I Go To School For which went to #3 in the UK, with follow-up Year 3000 going to #2 and You Said No giving them their first #1. This is actually certified by the Guinness Hit Singles as the first band to have their first three singles enter the top 3 in ascending order. They split at the beginning of 2005, with their last charting single Thunderbirds Are Go winning Record of the Year and giving them their last #1. That doesn’t mean they faded to obscurity, since I’ve yet to meet someone my age who doesn’t own at least one of their songs in whatever form, that’s how big they were at one point in the UK. There’s actually a joke running around that the world can’t end in 2012 because Busted have been to the year 3000.

Indeed, Paul O’Grady makes a living out of cracking jokes on his chat show on which he used to bring his dog named Buster, usually at the beginning before any guests came on. Unfortunately, following an illness, Buster had to be put down at the end of 2009. He now has a puppy named Bullseye, alongside his other two dogs Louie and Olga.

An actual person who wore the name was Buster Martin, who joined the OAP group The Zimmers for a BBC Documentary in 2009. Technically, he was actually named Pierre, but he’s notable because at one point he was the oldest working employee in the UK, famed for not taking a day off work to celebrate his 100th birthday. His birth year has been disputed, however, with some saying he wasn’t born in 1906, as he claimed, but rather somewhere nearer to the earlier 1910s. He died in April 2011 at the supposed age of 104.

A Britsh actor by the name Jonny Lee Miller welcomed a son named Buster Timothy in 2008, so there are some ‘genuine’ Busters running around, not just dogs or former boybands. The name itself is said to derive as a nickname for a clumsy person, moreover someone who breaks things alot. It’s like I’m describing myself, really.

In terms of popularity, here’s how Buster has fared in the past eight years:

  2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank 2189 1410 1991 2538
Births 6 12 8 6
  2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 4333 2276 1649 1801
Births 3 8 13 12

Bit of a rollercoaster ride for him, since although he has consistently ranked it’s not been with a consistent number of births. What does that tell me? Well, it really says we can’t decided whether to embrace the name of shunt it. I suspect with the rise of other -er names, such as Jasper and Kacper, he could really stand a chance at being given to more than a baker’s dozen of boys in a year. We’ll see.

So, Harper. S/he was recently compared by the NameLady to the name Ashley, which poses an interesting question. Will the name stay male in the UK? Well, personally I like the name for lads, especially considering how much I love the uber-popular name Harry, but I’m just a drop in the ocean. Even more confusingly, the data for England&Wales can be taken either way since the names are pretty evenly matched on the different genders, because whilst the name ranks higher for lads, there were are a handful more females given the name last year. Confuzzled? Take a look for yourself, male data first followed by the female one:

  2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank n/a 2070 2754 2087
Births n/a 7 5 8
  2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 2023 1294 1425 897
Births 9 18 16 32 
  2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank 4373 3725 2682 2137
Births 3 4 7 10
  2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 1573 1391 1171 930
Births 16 20 26 37

In all likelihood, I can see the name continuing to rise for both genders for the forseeable future, but I think it will ultimately go to the girls unless something, or rather someone, diverts it from that course, especially since the main person everyone cites as naming their baby Harper after is female.

Quite a few parents, even power-couple Posh&Becks, seem to love the American author Harper Lee, who famously coined the much-acclaimed novel To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve never read it since my English teacher at school decided to do Of Mice And Men with us instead. Harper Lee was born Nelle Harper Lee in 1926, and her famed book came along at the start of the sixties. For some reason, it’s only really now that parents seem to be going nuts over the names of the characters such as Scout, Atticus and, to a certain extent, Radley.

But we’re here to talk about the name Harper, which always seems to remind me of the angry dentist named Ben from BBC’s sitcom My Family. It features the somewhat dysfunctional Harper family of Sue, Ben and their three children Nick, Janey and Michael. Well, it used to at the beginning, but since then Nick, the best character in my opinion, has left and Janey has given birth to a son named Kenzo, who was nearly named Prada Handbag according to her mother

Indeed, the name Harper is part of the title of a chic magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, which I always mix up with one of my favourite shops – Hawkin’s Bazaar, which sells out-of-the-ordinary toys under the tagline because life’s too serious. The former came along in 1867, whilst the latter didn’t appear until around a century later in 1973.

Harper is also a somewhat musical option alongside names such as Piper and Melody, since it was originally given as an occupational surname to the people who crafted harps for a living and if s/he continues she’ll be as popular as them in a few years time.

In theory.

Categories: Names of the Week | 4 Comments

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Buster and Harper

  1. Emily

    Like you, I prefer Harper for a boy. The heavy R sounds are very masculine to me. Harper was my ggg grandfather’s second middle name, and if it weren’t so popular for girls here in the States I’d consider it as a first name for a boy. It’s strictly middle name territory for me now, though. At least Harper goes great with my favorite first names, so I’m not going to complain.


  2. Buster is a name I’m seeing on boys every once in a while. It seems like a fairly Australian name – we have a wind called a “southerly buster”.

    I’ve seen Harper on both males and females, but more females, and I’m sure it will climb for girls and become almost unknown for boys.


  3. Pingback: Sibset of the Week: The Halls « Mer de Noms

  4. Pingback: The Curious Case of Second Children « Mer de Noms

Join The Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: