Historically, names have served as a fingerprint of life, which can help
us trace our ancestors back to a place, a time or an occupation, a study of which is
called Onomastics. The Chinese had hereditary surnames 2000 years ago, but the practice
was not introduced into Europe until around 1100 A.D. As small villages grew it became
confusing if there were, for example, 4 Williams. So perhaps Robert's son became William
Robertson, the carpenter became William Carpenter, the William who lived near the creek
became William Brook, and the short one became William Little.
The Normans were amongst
the first Europeans to adopt surnames. In fact, when William the Conqueror invaded
England, he ordered those new subjects with only one name, to adopt a surname as well. My
research indicates that the surname Hudson, originated in the north of England. From a
corruption of the second part of the name Richard, the nick name 'Hudde' was first
recorded in 1273. Soon after, there appeared the name Huddeson, no doubt the son of Mr.
Hudde. Over time, compounded by illiteracy and carelessness, the spelling varied. In 1379
there was a Johannes Hudson living in the north of England. Other derivatives of Hudde
include, Hudd, Huddeson, Huddson, Hudeson, Hudsone, Huddy, Hutson and other variations.
Middle names weren't used until the 15th century, when a second Christian name was used
as a status symbol by German nobility. In the United States, after the American Revolution
it became the fashion to use the mother's maiden name as a middle name. Today the middle
name is also likely to have been selected from a favourite ancestor.
You may be interested to know which Christian names were popular in England in the
1300's. The top 10 names for boys were in order - John, William, Richard, Robert, Thomas,
Walter, Roger, Geoffrey, Henry and Adam. Popular girls names in order were - Alice,
Matilda, Agnes, Joan, Isabella, Christine, Margery, Julianna, Emma and Margaret.
By 1788, when the First Fleet set sail for Australia, some new names had gained favour.
Popular names in order for boys were - John, William, James, Thomas, Joseph, Robert,
Richard, Edward, Andrew, Nicholas, Patrick, Michael, Isaac, Joshua, George, Henry, Samuel,
Charles, Peter, Daniel, David and Alexander. Popular girls names in order were - Mary,
Elizabeth, Ann, Sarah, Frances, Susannah, Martha, Charlotte, Isabelle, Joanna, Judah,
June, Laura, Letita, Maria, Deborah, Ellen, Rebecca, Agnes, Caroline, Easther, Alice,
Lucy, Olivia, Patience, Phoebe and Thomasina.
By 1838, after 50 years in the new colony, the following names were the most popular.
For Boys they were - William, John, Thomas, James, Henry, Joseph, Charles, Robert, Edward,
Samuel, Frederick, David, Daniel, Walter, Nicholas, Herbert, Patrick, Benjamin, Horatio
and Arthur. The most popular names for girls were - Mary, Sarah, Anne, Maria, Hannah,
Emma, Phoebe, Henrietta, Ellen, Martha, Louisa, Catherine, Rachel, Fanny, Bridget,
Charlotte, Rebecca, Jane, Margaret and Lucy.
In 1888, after 100 years of European settlement, Australia had a new list of favourite
names. Amongst the boys you would be likely to meet many by the name of - William, George,
John, Thomas, Charles, Frederick, Arthur, Albert, Ernest and James. Popular girls names
were - Florence, Mary, Alice, Annie, Elsie, Edith, Doris, Edna, Ethel and Gladys.
Some names became shortened and Nick names evolved -
Robert may be called Bob, Joseph called Joe, William called Bill, Elizabeth called Beth
or Betty, Edward called Ted, Jennifer called Jenny, Susan called Sue etc. Names also
derived from others - John became Jack, Laura became Lauren, Katherine became Kate, Sarah
became Sally. Some migrants anglicised their names - Carl became Charles, Johann became
John, Catrina became Catherine, Maria became Mary, etc.
As new names came into fashion, there was a possibility you could pick a person's
generation from their name, especially if it was a name that only enjoyed a short period
of popularity. It is likely that baby boys with the following names were born prior to
World War 1. - Alan, James, George, Hector, James, John, Keith, Kenneth, Paul, Peter or
William. Or your Grandma etc born 1905 to 1915, may have been called - Annie, Beryl,
Dorothy, Elsie, Evelyn, Grace, Helen, Hilda, Irene, Jessie, Joan, Lilian, May, Nora,
Phyllis or Winifred.
In the 1930's, movies were helping to cheer people up in the years of depression. Many
children were named after film stars. Boys were likely to be called - Alan, Anthony,
Brian, Charles, Dennis, Derek, Donald, Eric, Gordon, John, Kenneth, Kevin, Michael,
Patrick, Peter, Robert, Ronald or Roy. Popular Girls names were - Audrey, Barbara, Betty,
Doreen, Eileen, Elizabeth, Jean, Joyce, Judith, June, Marjorie, Maureen, Patricia, Ruth,
Sandra, Shirley or Yvonne.
You or your children may have been born in the 1960's. Popular boys names include the
following - Anthony, Barry, Colin, David, Donald, Geoffrey, Graham, Gregory, Ian, Jason,
John, Mark, Neil, Paul, Peter, Philip, Richard, Stephen, Stuart and Trevor. Popular girls
names from the 60,s include - Amanda, Anne, Carole, Christine, Deborah, Helen, Jacqueline,
Joanne, Janice, Jennifer, Julie, Karen, Kerry, Linda, Margaret, Marie, Marilyn, Narelle,
Robyn, Susan, Wendy, Valerie and Vicki.
And now, after 200 years of settlement in Australia, there is a new list of favourite
Christian names. Some of the old names have made a reappearance, but many wait for another
time to come back into fashion. Some may never come back, or they will reappear with a
slight change in spelling. Immigration is likely to have the greatest effect on names in
Australia. It won't be long before an Asian name appears in the top 10. However, for the
moment, Biblical names are popular for boys as you will see from the following list. Boys
names in order of popularity in the 1980's are - Matthew, Daniel, James, Michael,
Christopher, Andrew, Benjamin, Nicholas, Joshua and David. Popular names in the 80's for
girls include the following - Jessica, Katherine, Sarah, Ashlea, Rebecca, Emma, Lauren,
Amy, Stephanie and Emily.