Thursday, September 2, 2010

Regency Names

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, and 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 master, the earl, would not share the name.

Here are a few links for finding Regency names:

Jo Beverley's site: http://www.jobev.com/regname.html

And here's a Regency name generator: http://ugoi.net/nonsense/name.html

Thank you all,
Linda
Enter My World of Historical Hilarity
http://www.lindabanche.com

5 comments:

Sherry Gloag said...

Very interesting post, thanks for sharing.
I believe that if a servant had a name like George his 'master' could order him to change it deeming it too highbrow for a servant to have the same name as a king.

Linda Banche said...

You're welcome, Sherry. You're right. God forbid the "little people" ape the upper classes!

StephB said...

Linda,
Great post. George was a very popular name in England. Very informative.

Smiles
Steph

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Steph. Not too many people named "George" nowadays. Shows you how fashions in names change.

Margaret West said...

My daughter is called Virginia. Not a regency name, but it is still quite a classic, although she hates it lol Thnaks for sharing the links.