Names of the Week: Archer and Imogen

Archery superstar.

My littlest sister has finally outgrown Cbeebies – the BBC channel aimed at little ‘uns. It’s a shame really that I’ll no longer catch her watching such delights as . When I was a little girl, I remember loving Playdays, which introduced me to the name Peggy, a name I love even to this day. Rosie and Jim was another favourite, as was Tots TV with Tilly, Tom and Tiny. But my sister much preferred the likes of Balamory and The Story Makers, whom inspire today’s names.

I’ve already mentioned Archie in one of these posts, the man who lives in the pink castle in the sleepy village of Balamory. So instead we’re turning to a potential long form of the name: Archer.

It should be mentioned now that the alternative of Archibald currently sits much higher than Archer in the popularity stakes of the 2010 England&Wales data: His #503 with 70 births to Archer’s #811 with 36 births. But don’t write off Archer yet, go back to 2009 and Archibald was at a relatively unchanged position of #505 with 69 births – so only 1 extra child given the name in 2010. As for Archer, he was outside to Top 1000 at #1033 with 25 births, so in terms of ranking he’s much improved, and with 11 more children born with the name in 2010. Proof that Archer is indeed a rising name, looking set to challenge Archibald in the coming years.

Archer also reminds me of the name Arthur, which entered the Top 100 in 2009 at #93, and in 2010 he rose to an even higher ranking of #82. Other top -er names include the classics Oliver, Alexander and Peter alongside such newly-popular names as Dexter, Kacper and Fletcher.

Speaking of the latter name, Fletcher ranks at #253, and comes from the French word flèche, meaning arrow. The art of fletching is intwined with archery, since it’s to do with making the arrows aero-dynamically stable.

Back in ye olde days, the English were well known for their archery, and despite this the first time I picked up a bow and arrow was at the start of this year. In France. At a French Archery School. I was rather good at it if I say so myself, given that most of my arrows hit inside the circle, although my French mentor insisted that it was beginner’s luck, not natural ability.

I come from the same area as one of the most famed archers of all: Robin Hood. The BBC love their period dramas, and in 2006 began to air the show named simply after him and also introduced Robin’s half-brother, the aptly named Archer. He was reputedly named after the arrow-like birthmark on his tummy. Incidently, I was born with a wobbly heart-shaped birthmark on my forehead which still exists to this day and has brought me much joy ever since Harry Potter was first released, but it never crossed my parents collective mind to name my after it. Either way, by the series finale pretty much all of Archer’s relatives were dead, except for his nephew, Seth, the son of Guy of Gisborne, Archer’s other half-brother.

When I first heard someone call for their daughter Imogen, I was perplexed. At the age of around 8, I’d never heard the name before and wondered why someone would name their child Imagine. How this links to The Story Makers is simple, since the best known quotation from the show is: ‘Imagine, Imagine, Imagine a story!’, which is what is said to get the slightly warped computer to make them a story.

It seems apt, then, that the name Imogen was penned first by the Bard for his tale Cymbeline. Well, almost. He had intended on the name being Innogen, but the world works in mysterious ways, and as a result the delectable name Imogen was born, whilst Innogen is seldom heard. In 2010, Imogen ranked at #24.

Rather fittingly, given that the Royal British Legion has just began it’s annual Poppy Appeal (my local bus service have stuck giant poppies to the front of all their buses this year), during WWII, there was a HMS Imogen, launched in 1936 and sunk in 1940 following an accidently collision.

If you love music, you’ll be thrilled to hear that there are three notable Imogens with musical relations to consider. Everyone has likely heard of Gustav Holst, the genius behind The Planets, but his only child, Imogen (born in 1907), was also a composer who worked closely with the equally well-known Benjamin Britten. Similarly, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the best-known living composers in Britain today, and he has a daughter named Imogen (born 1978). This Imogen, however, is a political commentator and author, not a composer.

The final Imogen to consider is Grammy-award winning Imogen Heap, who has dealings with more electronica-styles of music, rather than the classical genre. Her full name is Imogen Jennifer Jane, and she was born a year earlier than Imogen Lloyd Webber in 1977.

The combination of Imogen and Jane must be popular, given that our last famous namesake is Imogen Jane Cairns, a British gymnast born in 1989. She won the British Junior Championships twice (2003&2004) and in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth games won two gold medals for England – for her floor and vault routines. She also won silver in the women’s team all-round.

Categories: Names of the Week | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Archer and Imogen

  1. Archer and Imogen are both Top 100 here; they are on their way up for sure. (Fletcher is also Top 100).

    I like both of them; they sound classy without being over the top.

    What a pity your parents didn’t use Heart as your middle name; Lucy Sweetheart sounds adorable! Maybe too adorable?


  2. namemuststay

    I actually love that it seems like you forgot to add in any shows on CBBC – a tongue in cheek indication that there’s nothing worth watching, perhaps 😉 We actually had Tiny Tots TV over here, too. I still remember Tilly, Tom and Tiny!

    I think that Archer is on the verge of growing exponentially, to be honest. With Archie coming back, and -er names so trendy these days for boys!

    I love Imogen, too, but probably would never use it.


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