Names


The 1911 Census form gave no instructions about how names should be written in, and the examples set out on the back of the form all show only one first name and the surname, but most people took no notice of this and gave names in full - all four given names in a couple of cases. There is no way of knowing whether those who did give only one name (127 women and 102 men) did so because it was their only one or because they had studied the examples - more likely the former, I suspect. But drawing any firm conclusions from the names provided is a difficult task. People are often known by names other than those they were christened or by diminutives - a John may be Jack to everyone, and the names on the form may be their "proper" names or the ones they always use. Also, was someone who appears as Mary Ann (five in our group), for example, usually called Mary or Mary Ann, or something else entirely?

Most women had one or two names, (127 of each), eight had three, and only one, a baby called Catherine Vina Gladys Isabel Bond, had four. There were 102 men with one name, 144 with two, thirteen with three, and only one, also a baby, John Richard Joseph Frederick Johnson, with four. The spread of female names, 119 different names (excluding variant spellings of the same name) among 262 women and girls, is broader that among males, with 83 names among 260 men and boys. Males were more likely to have surnames among their second and third names, 28 to 8 for females.

The most common male name was William, held by 33 people, nearly 13%, followed by John, 27 (10%), George, 25 (nearly 10%), Frederick, 24 (9%) and Henry, 20 (8%). The lists of names drawn from the registers of births map trends at a particular point in time, while our group represent all ages from 0 to 77, but it is still quite interesting to make some comparisons. In 1904 the most popular baby names were William, John and George. Numbers four and five on the 1904 list were Thomas, ninth on our list, and Arthur, eleventh. Frederick and and Henry, fourth and fifth on our list, were eighth and seventeenth respectively on the 1904 list. In the 1914 list of birth names registered William and John had changed places, with George still at three, (and the same is true in the 1924 list). Names move up or down the lists, but the shifts are comparatively minor, unlike the far more varied patterns of the the second half of the twentieth century.

The most common female name was Mary, held by 24 people, 9% of the total, and after that the spread was much broader than among the males. The next most popular names, with between 14 and 11 holders, 4-5%, were Elizabeth, Ann, Emily, Alice, Edith, and Annie. The next batch, with 9-6 holders, 2-3%, were Florence, Beatrice, May, Ellen, Clara, Doris, Emma, Margaret and Winifred. In the registers of births for 1904 and 1914 Mary was also the most popular name, but otherwise the comparisons vary, reflecting both the broader spread of female names and the frequency with which they changed in popularity. Ann, our third most popular, was 67th in 1904 and 55th in 1914. The name Emily, our fourth most popular, 23rd in 1904, 34th in 1914, has an interesting trajectory. Our youngest Emily was 22, and presumably named after her mother, also Emily. All the other holders of the name were in their 30s and 40s. The name was at 70 in 1924, and then disappears from the 100 most popular names until 1974, when it reappears at 80. By 1984 it had risen to 36, and by 1994, to 8. Alice has shown a similar, if not so dramatic, trajectory. Edith disappears from the list after 1934, as does Annie. In the second group, almost all disappear from the lists of the 100 most popular names at some point. Margaret holds on longest, its last appearance being in 1954, but Florence, May, and Winifred are not seen after 1934. Ellen also disappears in 1934, but reappears in 1994.. Beatrice goes after 1924, Doris after 1944, and Clara and Emma after 1914, but Emma came back in 1974 at 4th and continues to appear high up.

Information on forenames can be found on the National Statistics website.