Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Is Everyone Named George?

Many unique factors define a historical period--technology, politics, wars or the lack thereof. Social manners and mores also define an era, including the names parents give their children. The English Regency (1811-1820) was no exception.

In England, the name of the reigning monarch was always popular with the parents of newborns. In the Regency, as for the previous 100 years since George I ascended the throne in 1714, that name was "George" (George III pictured). George Washington, born in 1732, took his name from George II (reigned 1727-1760). George Gordon Byron, the famous Regency poet, Lord Byron, (born 1788) was named for George III (reigned 1760-1820). Girls were not exempt from the trend--Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, born in 1757, was named, like George Washington, for George II.

The name "George" was so important and so popular that the entire era preceding the Regency, from the reign of George I (1714) to 1811, was named the Georgian era.

After "George", the names of kings and queens from the Norman Conquest onward were popular, especially among the upper echelons of society. For boys, popular names were John, William, Richard, Henry, Charles, James, Edward, and the Saxon kings' names Harold and Edmund. Girls' names included Elizabeth, Mary and Anne, monarchs in their own right, as well as the kings' consorts, Charlotte (George III), Catherine and Jane (Henry VIII), Emma (Canute the Great), Eleanor (Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II).

Caroline, the name of the Prince Regent's wife, was also popular, as well as the names of the Regent’s sisters, the princesses Sophia, Augusta, and Amelia, and his brothers, the princes Frederick, Alfred, and Adolphus.

Biblical names, with a few exceptions, such as Susanna and Sarah, were not popular with the Beau Monde. A footman might be named Joseph, but his employer, the earl, would not share the name.

Here are a few links for finding Regency names:

Jo Beverley's site:

And here's a Regency name generator:

Thank you all,


Kaye Manro said...

Very interesting post, Linda! I'd never thought about it in that way, but you are right.

When I did research for my 12th century medieval series, the name Henry came up many times. Richard did too. I decided my stories would be set around the time of King Steven. There was civil war raging and a fight for the throne. Maude, former King Henry's actual daughter felt she was the rightful heir, not Steven. This makes interesting background for stories.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Linda, thank you for the naming entymology. I had no idea the Beau Monde disliked Biblical names. Good to know!

catslady said...

Interesting as always. Reminds me of my ancestors. All first sons were named after the father's father, 2nd son the mother's father, first daughter the father's mother and 2nd daughter the mother's mother. Then you went to Aunts and Uncles. Problem with that is more than one brother from the same family would use the same names so that there were only so many names used over and over.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Kaye, some names remain popular over the years. During medieval times, "Joan" was a popular girls' name, but not by the Regency. And "Maude" wasn't very popular during the Regency, either, even though she was a contender for the throne.

Caroline, it's amazing the facts you pick up when you look!

LOL, catslady. A lot of people with the same names makes for confusion. That's why my PUMPKINNAPPER hero uses the nickname "Hank" instead of his real name "Henry" because everyone else is named Henry!