Baby names

Traditional names top list of most popular middle names for babies

James, John and William top the list

By Rebecca Shepherd, 20 March 2017
Traditional names top list of most popular middle names for babies

It looks like 2017 is the year we take a trip down nostalgia lane and give our babies traditional middle names like John and Grace. 

"It seems that middle names are a relatively new phenomenon, having only become the norm over the last hundred years"

That's according to new research from genealogy website, Ancestry, which reveals parents in the UK tend to give their child a traditional middle name rather than a traditional first name. 

Names like James, John and William top the list of the most popular middle names for boys while Louise, Rose and Grace come up trumps for girls’ middle names. 

The findings also show that 55% of all baby names have been chosen to remember a well-loved family member and 15% of all middle names have run in the family for generations.

The list also seems to be absent of more ‘modern’ names, with none of the current top 10 first names for girls such as Olivia, Ava and Mia appearing in the list, and just three (William, James and Thomas) of today’s most popular boys names make up the top 10.

The research also reveals that middle names are certainly more popular than they ever have been.

Rewind more than a century and just one in three people sported a middle name according to an audit of the 1911 census. Yet today, 80% of children are given second names and one in 10 new babies are given two or more middle names.

Miriam Silverman, UK Content Manager, from Ancestry said: “It seems that middle names are a relatively new phenomenon, having only become the norm over the last hundred years—driven by the desire to commemorate well-loved ancestors.

“This will have become particularly prominent in society following the two World Wars. These wars affected the entire country and resulted in millions of Britons commemorating their lost loved ones as new babies were born in the years following the conflicts.

“As a result, middle names are less likely to follow popular culture and more likely reflect age-old traditions or names that were popular in our parents’ or grandparents’ generation—hence the very traditional makeup of today’s top 10 middle names.”

2017's most popular middle names for boys and girls 

Boys Girls 
James Louise
John Rose
William Grace
Thomas Jane
David Elizabeth
Robert Anne/Ann
Edward May/Mae
Peter Marie
Lee Mary
Christopher Amy
Alexander Catherine
Michael Victoria
Daniel  Kate

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