Bygone baby names that are set to make a comeback in 100-year cycle


Amanda Killelea

·Yahoo Life UK freelance reporter

Thu, 12 May 2022, 1:53 pm

Baby giggling on mat
Just call me Gladys – retro names are coming back in fashion. (Image: PA News)

Baby names go in and out of fashion in 100-year cycles – meaning some surprising retro names are due to make a comeback.

New research from experts at Findmypast predicts the Top 20 baby names set to return this decade based on analysis that shows names make a resurgence every century.

And if information gleaned from the 1921 census is correct it means some of the bygone monikers due to resurface include Joan, Gladys and Irene for girls and Ernest and Ronald for boys.

The research also revealed that royal events have a huge impact on the popularity of baby names. The name Elizabeth surged with a 16% increase in popularity in 1926, the year of the Queen’s birth.

Similarly, after a dip across the 1960s and 1970s, Prince Harry’s birth in 1984 sparked a rush in popularity throughout the following decades.

Experts predict Royal babies Archie and Lilibet could provide name inspiration for parents. (Getty Images)
Experts predict Royal babies Archie and Lilibet could provide name inspiration for parents. (Getty Images)

Findmypast expects the royal obsession to continue across the next decade with families looking to the recent births of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s babies, Lillibet and Archie, for inspiration.

Royal marriages also provided the population with plenty of inspiration when it came to choosing a name for their babies throughout history, with a whopping 56% increase in babies named Phillip in 1947, the year the Prince married Elizabeth.

Similarly, the name Diana saw a resurgence in 1981, in celebration of her wedding to Prince Charles with a staggering 122% increase in babies named after her.

The name Diana had a resurgence after the 1981 Royal wedding. (Getty Images)
The name Diana had a resurgence after the 1981 Royal wedding. (Getty Images)

Digitised exclusively by Findmypast and recently released to the public for the first time a century later, the 1921 Census revealed the most popular names for children under one.

Expert historians used this data along with an analysis of current royal trends to predict which baby names are most likely to have a revival. You can now easily uncover the history of individual names online using the What’s in a name search tool.

10 girl baby names set to make a comeback

  1. Joan
  2. Mary
  3. Margaret
  4. Dorothy
  5. Gladys
  6. Irene
  7. Iris
  8. Elsie
  9. Ada
  10. Mabel

10 boy baby names set to make a comeback

  1. Ronald
  2. Arthur
  3. Robert
  4. Albert
  5. Freddie
  6. Edward
  7. Archie
  8. Ernest
  9. Isaac
  10. Harris

Some long forgotten names are due to come back into fashion. (Getty Images)
Some long forgotten names are due to come back into fashion. (Getty Images)

“History always has a tendency to repeat itself and baby names are no exception,” says Mary McKee, Head of Content Publishing Operations at Findmypast. “All roads point to Joan as parents are increasingly looking to name their baby girls after strong female historical figures, and who better to take inspiration from than Joan of Arc.

“When it comes to boys’ names, these have a tendency of coming back into fashion but as their nickname equivalent – Frederick becomes Freddie, Archibald becomes Archie and so there is every chance that Ronald could come back into circulation as Ronnie.”

Joan tops the list as the name most likely to make a return to favour in the coming years. The name was previously in the Top 10 most popular baby names in 1921, as revealed by the 1921 Census, it then plummeted in popularity in the mid-1950s before falling out of the Top 100 entirely.

The resurgence has even already begun for some names, with Arthur, Freddie and Edward re-entering 2021’s Top 100 names for boys and Rose, Iris, Ada all featuring on the list for girls.

10 most popular boys names in 1921

  1. John
  2. William
  3. George
  4. Thomas
  5. James
  6. Ronald
  7. Arthur
  8. Robert
  9. Albert
  10. Frederick

10 most popular girls names in 1921

  1. Mary
  2. Margaret
  3. Dorothy
  4. Joan
  5. Doris
  6. Irene
  7. Kathleen
  8. Gladys
  9. Elsie
  10. Joyce

10 most popular girl names in 2022

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Ivy
  7. Lily
  8. Isabella
  9. Rosie
  10. Sophia

10 most popular boy names in 2022

  1. Oliver
  2. George
  3. Arthur
  4. Noah
  5. Muhammad
  6. Leo
  7. Oscar
  8. Harry
  9. Archie
  10. Jack

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