Posts Tagged With: Penelope

Downton Abbey of Names Pt. I

Snapshot of the charming Dame Maggie Smith in character, from madblackcat.com

I would be a sham of a Brit if I didn’t admit to visiting a few castles/abbeys in my time. I’ve dedicated a whole post to Chatsworth House, and have been thinking about other castles to mention in the near future. But today, it seems time to cover a famed British estate, which may not exactly be real – but it has certainly captured our attentions, and the attentions of those abroad.

Downton Abbey is a period drama, which airs on ITV here in the UK and it set up north in Yorkshire. At the time of the series, George V was the King – and future grandfather of our current monarch – Elizabeth II.

The series was created by Julian Fellowes, so it seems apt to begin our look into names there. In 2010, the name Julian ranked at #311 in England&Wales, whilst Jules is experiencing something of a boom over in France. The name Julian is the English form of the Latin name Julianus, which means belonging to Julius. The name Julius derives from Jupiter, although it is often claimed that he derives from Greek and means downy-bearded.

As an aside, in 2009, Elizabeth Adeney gave birth at the age of 66 to a son she named Jolyon – a medieval variant of Julian – making her then the eldest mother in the UK.

Julian Fellowes is married to Emma Joy, and together they have one son named Peregrine. Emma was born in 1963, and her name means whole, universal, whilst Peregrine means stranger, traveller.

Moving away from real-life, and into the fictional world of Downton Abbey, let’s start with the Crawley family as the focus for Part I. At the top of the pile is The Right Honourable Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. The name Robert is a classic staple, currently ranking at #90 in England&Wales. He means bright-fame, whilst charming Rupert is a German form of him and ranks at #360.

This character is played by Hugh Bonneville. The name Hugo has been enjoying increased attention of late, not least in thanks to the BAFTA-nomintated 2010 film of the same name. Hugo is the Latin form of the name Hugh, which himself is the English form of the Germanic name Hugi, a name that means heart. It was brought to Britain with the Normans.

Of all three names, Hugi does not rank in England&Wales, but both Hugh and Hugo do. Despite the star-power of comedian-come-actor Hugh Laurie, the name Hugo outranks Hugh at #149 to #364. It’s worth noting at this point that Hugh Laurie isn’t actually a Hugh – his real name is James Hugh Calum Laurie.

Going further with the actor’s family, Hugh Bonneville is married to a lady named Lulu Evans, and together they have a son called Felix. The name Lulu is a common short form for plenty of names, such as Louise; Lucy; Louisa; Lucia, and indeed plenty moreLulu ranked at #840 in 2010, England&Wales. Felix, on the other hand, derives from Latin and means lucky, successful. Felix is another slightly-outside Top 100 lurker at #122.

The wife of the Earl of Grantham is The Right Honourable Cora Crawley. The name Cora is likely to have been derived from the Greek Kore, which means maiden, however there may have been influence from similar names such as Coralie. Cora ranks at #438, whilst Coralie ranks at #2589, with only 8 of them born in 2010.

This character is played by Elizabeth McGovern, whose name means God is my oath. She has two children, called Matilda and Gracie. The name Matilda means strength of battle, whilst Gracie is a diminutive of the name Grace. The name Matilda ranks at #53, whilst Gracie is slightly higher at #51. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is at #49 – so all three names are separated by just 2 other names – Leah at #50 and Amber at #52.

The children of the Earl and Countess of Grantham are called Mary Josephine, Edith and Sybil. As an aside, my sister recently declared dibs on the name Edith, along with a handful of other names. But that’s for another time, another post.

Mary has enjoyed ferocious popularity for centuries, mostly thanks to her prominent role in the Bible. Despite this, it’s never been certain what exactly the name Mary means, but what we do know is that she currently ranks at #213. Her origins could be:

  • Egyptian, meaning to love/desire
  • Hebrew, meaning rebellious/disobediant, or even sea and star.
The name Josephine is the feminine form of the name Joseph, which derives from Hebrew and means he will add. The eldest sister is played by Michelle Dockery, whose name is a feminine form of Michael and means who is like God? In 2010, Josephine ranked at #303, whilst Michelle leads her #251.
The name Edith derives from Old English, and it’s elements means rich and war. She is played by Laura Carmichael, and Laura means laurel. Edith is surprisingly high at #259, whilst Laura is at a respectable #125.

The youngest sister’s name, Sybil, derives form the Latin name Sibylla and means sibyl – which is a title given to a female whom utters prophecies. She is played by Jessica Brown-Findlay. The name Jessica made her début in William Shakespeare’s play Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare likely based the name on the minor Biblical character Iscah – who was known as Jesca/Jescha in his time. Either way, the name derives from Hebrew and means he beholds. The name Sybil was only given to 4 girls in 2010, whilst Jessica was given to a pretty impressive tally of 4102 – rewarding her with a ranking of #6.

Our next character to mention is The Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess, who is played by the rather wonderful Dame Maggie Smith – born Margaret Natalie Smith. She was married to Robert Stephens before divorce and married to Beverley Cross until his death. She has two sons: Toby and Christopher.

Let’s start with Violet, which derives from the plant. The name is currently lurking just outside the Top 100 at #123. Out of Maggie and her long form of Margaret, it is Maggie who ranks higher – at #276 to Margaret’s #505. The name Margaret means pearl.

The name of her second husband highlights the once masculine edge Beverley possessed – a name which means beaver stream. As for the names of her two sons: Christopher derives from Late Greek and means bearing Christ; Toby is a short form of Tobias, the Greek form of Tobiah, which means Yahweh is good. Christopher dropped out of the Top 100 in 2010 to #104, whilst Toby has recently entered the Top 100 at #54.

The name Beverley no longer ranks for males, whilst 6 female Beverleys were born in 2010.

The last two Crawleys are called Matthew and Isobel. The name Matthew means gift of Yahweh, and is a Top 100 favourite at #41. Then we have Isobel, which is the Scottish form of Isabel. The name Isabel herself is a medieval variant of the already mentioned Elizabeth. There are currently a few versions of Isobel in the England&Wales Top 100:

  • Isabella at #12
  • Isabelle at #17
  • Isabel at #58
  • Isobel at #75

Matthew Crawley is played by actor Daniel Jonathan Stevens. Daniel derives from Hebrew and means God is my judge, whilst Jonathan is also from Hebrew and means Yahweh has given. Daniel lurks just outside the Top 10 at #11, whilst Jonathan is a little lower down at #141.

Last, but by no means least, we have Isobel Crawley who is played by Penelope Alice Wilton, and both names are rather in vogue in Britain at the moment. Alice is currently at #43, whilst Penelope is at #272; her common short form of Penny is at #396.

Categories: Names from the Box | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Phantom Manor of Names

Jilted bride Melanie from the start of the Phantom Manor ride, via flickr (peterpanfan)

I mentioned Chatsworth House earlier on this week, and now it’s time  for a completely different direction even if I am somewhat sticking to big house theme – but this time incorporating my recent Disney trip into it. Those who can see where I’m going with this, bear with me because you may be wondering why a certain ride has changed it’s name.

I’ll get back to that later, but first, a statement from me about me. I hate ghost rides, as a general rule. The one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is noted as being one of the first Ghost Trains (and indeed first to call itself as such) in the world, and I’ve been on it. Several times. Why? Because it isn’t actually that scary, it’s just skeletons painted in luminescent paint. There’s an Alice in Wonderland ride opposite it which has exactly the same concept of luminous-ly painted animatronics in dark rooms, I kid ye not.

Aside from the relatively unscary Blackpool Ghost Train, the only ghost ride I’m happy to go on frequently is Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris. The different name indicates a different storyline, even if several key moments in the ride remain similar. It does seem odd that I’m so content with going on the Phantom Manor ride, thinking about it, since it was intentionally designed to be darker than the Haunted Mansion versions in other parks. I did go on Haunted Mansion whilst at the Florida park, but I found myself not enjoying it as much as the Phantom Manor, but maybe that’s because I spent most of it confused as the bride went from a weeping mess of the Paris version to a axe-wielding maniac. My sister was particularly not impressed.

In the Phantom Manor version of the ride, the plotline revolves around a young Melanie, rather than a Constance. The plot goes that she fell in love with a train engineer from the town, Thunder Mesa, below the manor (aka Frontierland), and her father, Henry, disapproved of this. Henry tried to stop the wedding, but tragically died in an earthquake along with his wife, Martha. On Melanie’s wedding day, a phantom lured her groom to the attic and hanged him from the rafters. Melanie spends the rest of her days roaming the manor waiting for her groom to return.

All rather sad, really. Infact, it all seems rather apt that Melanie means dark. She comes from the Greek melaina, which means either black or dark. Before you start wondering why the bride doesn’t have a French name, you’d best hold your horses. The name Melanie was popular in the Middle Ages in France, and was later brought to Britain by them. Of course, the French like to spell her Mélanie.

I will grant that the bride names in Magic Kingdom, Florida are far more fascinating. At the Florida version, the emphasis is on what they liked to call happy haunts, with references to dear Constance who killed all five of her husbands. It is from her fifth – George – that she came to presumeably own the Haunted Mansion. When we went on the ride for the first time, my sister and I were confused as to why there was no bride crying in the ballroom scene or in her boudoir, and indeed why she turned up in the attic with an axe and a manic grin since we did not realise the extent to the plot change between Paris and Florida until Google informed us that night.

Not just Constance was mentioned, however. When you leave the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World, you see the tomb of a man named Bluebeard, which lists his seven wives:

  • Penelope
  • Abigail
  • Anastasia
  • Prudence
  • Phoebe
  • Eugenia
  • Lucretia

Certainly an interesting selection of names, but wait, it gets even more interesting from there (more interesting than Lucretia? No!), since there is a man from French folklare called Bluebeard who took several wives himself; however, they weren’t given the above names. The French writer Maurice Maeterlinck certainly wrote extensively on Bluebeard, giving the name of at least six former wives with suitable fascinating French names:

  • Sélysette
  • Alladine
  • Ygraine
  • Bellangère 
  • Mélisande
  • Ariane

But he’s not the only one to name a wife of Bluebeard, two more men have notably named two other wives:

  • Anatole France gave us Jeanne (naming her as Bleubeard’s last wife)
  • Bela Bartók gave us Judith (he numbers her as Bluebeard’s 4th wife)

I certainly struggle to fault Disney when it comes to the names they choose, that’s for sure. There’s plenty of names there to sift through, and plenty I could see myself happily using – even with the association of the ride because it’s a pretty decent, well-though out ghostie. Both sides of the atlantic.

Categories: Disney Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When Penelope Gets Popular

Paloma Faith may inspire you, from metro.co.uk

When I originally penned the Clementine post, I never imagined doing a sequel post or even turning it into a series, but the fact of the matter is that the name Penelope is getting popular, and I’ve started to wonder about what alternatives are out there. This post started off as me pondering about what other names I could get Penny from (the final three being Typhena, Peony and Euphemia), but the original draft of such a post seemed like more should be said. An elaboration was in order, and a sequel was born. So, what other names could we use when Penelope gets too popular for our liking? Just to illustrate the fact that she has grown in popularity, here’s how she’s fared in the past few years:

2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank 583 565 562 678
Births 50 55 59 46
2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 515 427 328 272
Births 72 99 135 181

A ranking of #272 is something to take note of, since she’s shot up from #678 in 2006 to where she is today. To start off with, it seems best to first approach this topic by asking what exactly are the kinds of names people are pairing the name Penelope with, either as sibling or middle names? A trip to the London Telegraph Birth Announcements was in order to find just that out, and it was an eclectic bunch of names to say the least; here is a cut-down version:

  • Annabel
  • Aurelia
  • Bróna
  • Clementine
  • Esther
  • Evelyn
  • Dorothea
  • Felicity
  • Florence
  • Georgina
  • Harriet
  • Hettie
  • Horatia
  • Jemima
  • Lucinda
  • Marissa
  • Muriel
  • Nancy
  • Orla
  • Scarlett
  • Serena
  • Willa

The names Clementine and Florence came up severeal times, whilst Lucinda also came up at least twice. There are some conflicting styles in the names, from the seldom heard Horatia, to the very Irish name Bróna. Since Florence is a clear favourite, it seems apt to kick off a list of suggestions with the younger Nightingale sister’s name: Parthenope. Like her sister before her, Parthenope was named after an Italian city, and like Penelope, she’s four-syllables. If long names are your preference, another four-syllable P name is Philomena, which shares Penelope’s Greek roots. Dorothea from the above list also shares this trait. Other four-syllable Greek names include:

  • Angeliki
  • Calliope
  • Cassiopeia (technically five-syllables)
  • Elisavet
  • Eugenia (modern Greek form: Evgenia)
  • Konstantina
  • Louiza
  • Ophelia
  • Paraskeve (Pah-rah-ske-vee)
  • Persephone
  • Theodora
  • Timothea
  • Zenovia/Zenobia

But you may have no Greek heritage, which means the above list may means nothing at all to you. Fear not, for there are other, more English-based, options out there. The current leader of the pack for me is Peony. She’s floral, like Lily, and could also shorten to Penny if your heart so desires. I’m astonisahed that only 9 of them were born in England&Wales in 2010, because she is such a pretty name. I first came upon her, myself, when reading a book which I can’t for the life of me remember. But what I can remember was that Peony wore trousers with different coloured legs. She was an eccentric child, to say the least. Another seldom used name in England&Wales in Tolulope, given to just 4 girls in 2010, whilst Temitope was given to 10 girls.

Another P name that I reckon will be rising fast here in the UK in the next few years is Paloma. We’ve already had pop act Florence&The Machine attributed to the rise of Florence, and there’s another similar artist in the UK right now called Paloma Faith. She was the goth girl, Andrea, in the first of the rebooted St.Trinians films, but has since embraced colour to the max. Her name is Spanish for dove. Another British pop act, Mika, has three sisters named Yasmina, Paloma and Zuleika.

Going back to 2000, Penelope was given to 35 girls that year, as was Henrietta. Other names ranking similarly to her, and also containing four syllables (within 45-25 births) in 2000, with their 2010 ranking/birth number in brackets after are:

  • Angelica (#531, 75 births)
  • Henrietta (#730, 50 births)
  • Ophelia (#559, 71 births)
  • Valentina (#521, 77 births)
  • Veronica (#452, 92 births)

As you can see, non of them have broken the Top 300 as Penelope has done, but they have all risen since 2000 and could rise further but maybe not as quickly as dear Penny. That leads us onto another point, one could simply use a nickname of Penelope instead. Aside from Poppy, which resides firmly in the Top 100, the nicknames are generally not as popular as their long form:

  • Nell – #390
  • Nelly – #747
  • Penny – #396
  • Petal – #3156
  • Piper – #719
  • Polly – #300
  • Posy – #4688

I would also suggest Pippa as a nickname for Penelope, but she’s also on the express train to popularity at the moment. I guess one could argue that Philippa is another great alternative choice, who has actually been going backwards in the past few years. Other vintage-sounding P names include Patience, Prudence and Pearl, and Pomeline is a name with Royal heritage.

To conclude, Penelope is a great name with some great alternatives should her popularity put you off. My line on popularity is the same as always, though: if your heart says go for it, just go for it regardless of how popular the name may be.

Categories: Girl Names, Nicknames | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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