The Curious Case of Second Children

A screenshot of the online version of the live game show, which I've really gotten into, from channel4.com

I played along online with Million Pound Drop Live for the first time a few Saturday nights ago, and loved the fact that I managed to go something like 5 questions with my fictional one million still intact (you have a choice of four answers to a question currently being posed to the contestants on the live show, and can split your initial million pounds between all but one of the options). One of the questions which came up during my winning streak was about the popularity of the names of the Beckham children and, being a name nerd, I would’ve been ashamed if I had gotten the question wrong, but I didn’t. The actual popularity is in line with the age order of Posh and Becks kids, thus Brooklyn had the most popular name and Harper had the least popular name if one looks to the popularity data for boys in England&Wales in 2010, and indeed if we took Harper with her female ranking she would still come fourth since she currently ranks lower as a female name.

The key thing to note about this, for me, is that the people who took to Twitter during the show overwhelming believed either Romeo or Cruz was the answer, and for those who are interested, here’s how the popularity of each name for their respective gender works out:

  Rank Births
Brooklyn 248 190
Romeo 343 122
Cruz 433 87
Harper 930 37

And this got me thinking, what is the tendency for later children to have less popular names? We covered the conundrum of the difference in popularity in the names given to boy/girl twins last week, and so this posts acts as a natural progression of the topic.

Aside from the Beckhams, another notable example is Myleene Klass, who currently has two daughters: Ava Bailey and Hero Harper. There’s around a 3 year age gap, but the gap in popularity between the two is much more, even their middle names have a marked difference in popularity:

  Rank Births
Ava 11 3438
Bailey 505 80
Hero 4012 5
Harper 930 37

The scenario of finding out just how popular the name you gave your first child is a popular one to come across on the name boards, especially amongst the less than name-data savvy parents. That said, it still surprises me how underused the name Harper remains to be, but that may be more because I hang loose with American name bloggers quite a lot, where the name was given to 119 baby girls in 2010, which is a threefold increase in popularity – but if you were to factor in the differing population sizes of the States and England&Wales, I’m sure the popularity numbers would come out roughly the same.

Of course, I’ve seen parents go the other way, starting off with child #1 having a particularly wonderful name, and by the time darling daughter #6 comes along, the popularity of your child’s name no longer seems important in life. Looking at my own sibset, this is pretty much the way my parents went, in a sense, since out of the four of us, the two youngest both have names in the Top 10, whilst the two eldest are outside that magic number. That said, my name [Lucy] isn’t exactly unheard of, since she’s currently lurking around the Top 20, whilst the name of other sister [Heather] doesn’t even make the Top 100, although my parents did intend on calling her Isabelle which is, like my name, in the Top 20 for England&Wales in 2010.

So, what can we draw from this? Well, setting out to name all your children names of similar popularity may not work out. My siblings and I were born over a decade long period, so names that were popular when I was born (Jade was #16 in 1994, the nearest year to the year I was born for which E&W data is available) were no longer in fashion by the time my youngest sister came along (Jade was at #77 by 2003). That’s something to take into mind, and the other thing to note is the role of existing children. The topical example is Scary Spice aka Melanie Brown who gave naming rights to her eldest daughter, the creatively named Phoenix, who chose the popular name Madison.

I’m as guilty of this as any older sibling. I was something like 6ish when my brother came along, and I was the one who campaigned for that year’s number one name [Jack] for my baby brother. I will say in my defence that by the time I was 9 and ready to become a big sister for the third time, I wanted to call her Clover, which didn’t even rank in 2003.

Now, over to you dear readers. What is your perception of the issue? How important really is the popularity of names when selecting a name for your bundle of joy? Personally, I find myself not particularly bothered either way about the slight difference in popularity, provided one name isn’t noticeably more popular than the other, such is the case with Myleene’s children. It’s also worth noting that Brooklyn wasn’t that popular a name when the Beckhams chose it for their son at the start of the century, but it was boosted by it’s high profile use, much like the name Nevaeh which was bestowed on a celebrity child around the same time.

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Categories: Name Trends | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Second Children

  1. Emily

    I don’t think differences in popularity is an issue at all. Cordelia and Sophia make just as lovely a pair as Ava and Olivia.

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  2. Um, guilty as charged … #1 Top 100, #2 … nowhere. It wasn’t planned that way though.

    But as Emily says, if names make a lovely pair, the popularity doesn’t matter a bit.

    And Tahlia and Imogen don’t really sound right together, yet Tahlia is only 3 places higher than Imogen in NSW.

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  3. Awkward Turtle

    The longer exposure of Brooklyn (as he is eldest) could have made the name more familiar, making it more reasonable as a naming choice to some parents.

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  4. Same with my family my little sister is the second child and she is an Adele born in 2001. I am an Ebony a much more common name and my younger brother has the most popular Isaac.

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