Naming the Royal Baby: 1903-1937

welcome little stranger sprigged pincushion c. 1800-1899

Welcome Little Stranger layette pincushion, c. 1800-1899. Such ornamental pincushions were a popular gift to a new mother. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/661170

Mrs Daffodil joins the entire Empire in welcoming the newest Little Stranger of the Royal family, the as-yet-unnamed son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. There is, of course, much interest in what the new baby prince will be called.  History shows that whatever name the proud parents select, it will instantly become the nom du jour.

BOOM IN ROYAL NAMES.

Names, according to Carlyle, are the most important of all clothings. His Majesty the King may, therefore, be looked upon as Master Clothier to the rising generation, for without doubt “Albert Edward” is the most popular name of the hour (says a London paper).

A study of the baptismal registers of several famous churches reveals this interesting fact. Within the last few weeks the registers of such typical middle-class churches as St. Pancras, St. Mary, Whitechapel. St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, and the pro-cathedral at Liverpool have been scanned, and at each of these the register bristles with Albert Edwards. Fluctuations of national sentiment are reflected as in a looking-glass in the registers of the churches named. At the time of the Coronation several girl babies were christened Corona, while on the declaration of peace quite a number of little Misses Peace confronted the clergy. When Queen Victoria died many thousands of mothers christened their newly-born children after that illustrious monarch. One loyal mother called her child Victoria Alexandra. There is quite a run on Alexandra in the parish of St. Pancras…

Particular periods of our history have invariably brought forth fashions in names. Perhaps the most striking instance on record of this curious, but inevitable, influence is that of the Puritan period, when such names as Prudence; Mercy, Faith, Hope, Charity, and so on came into vogue, to say nothing of such extravagances as Love-not-the-World, Original Sin, and the notorious name of Praise-God Barebones’ son —to wit, If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned-Barebones. The register at St. Clement Danes Church shows that among the educated and professional classes simple names are favored, while the less refined indulge in far more pretentious nomenclature. “Marys and Anns and Susans are going clean out of fashion with the lower classes,” said one parish clerk, “and Irenes and Penelopes and Gladiolas are all the rage. “Only,” he added pathetically, “they will call them Irons and Penny-lopes.”

Oamaru [NZ] Mail 11 October 1902: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  “Albert Edward,” was the birth name of King Edward VII. Although Queen Victoria had wished him to be crowned as “King Albert Edward,” he declared that he did not wish to “undervalue the name of Albert” and diminish the status of his father with whom the “name should stand alone.”

British history records many unusual appellations such as the Sitwell brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, Sir Cloudesley Shovell, artist Inigo Jones, and Sir Kenelm Digby.  And, of course, one thinks of the many “aesthetic” boy’s names so popular in late Victorian or Edwardian fiction:  Algernon, Cecil, Vyvyan, Cyril, Ernest, or Clovis.

Traditionally, royal infants are saddled with a string of names, causing difficulty at the font or the wedding altar. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex was christened “Henry Charles Albert David;” while his father, Charles, Prince of Wales, started life as “Charles Philip Arthur George,” which a nervous Lady Diana Spencer reassembled as “Philip Charles Arthur George,” while taking her wedding vows.

ROYAL NAMES

It is unusual for a Royal baby to be christened with a single name, as Prince Harald of Norway was recently. His father, Prince Olaf, has five names, and English Royalties have generally run to about the same number. King George V had eight, but four of them—George, Andrew, Patrick, David bore a territorial significance. Queen Victoria had only two; the choice was a matter of dispute at the font, and the Prince Regent grudgingly sanctioned Victoria—”to come after the other” (Alexandrina). But in the matter of plenitude of names the Bourbon-Parma family seem to take precedence. The Empress Zita, mother of the deposed Austrian Emperor, Karl, has 10 Christian names, and her 11 brothers and sisters distributed 63 among them.

Otago [NZ] Daily Times 1 June 1937: p. 16

There is some suggestion that the new parents will choose an “unusual” or (the horror!) an American name. Political battles have often been fought over the name of an infant, who slumbers on, blissfully unaware of the controversy.

NAMING A ROYAL BABY.

London, January 4.— Reynolds newspaper says that the Royal personages at Sandringham are quarrelling over the name to be given to the latest grandson of King Edward. Those who are swayed by German influences want the new Prince called William, after the Kaiser, while another party wants him called George, and still others favour the name of Nicholas, after the Czar of Russia.

Three hundred and twenty-two British subjects have written to the Prince of Wales giving him interesting suggestions as to the naming of his baby.

New Zealand Herald 21 February 1903: p. 9

Punch, of course, had something to say on the question of what to call a newly hatched Prince:

Mr. Punch thinks that the most appropriate title for the little Prince [Albert Victor] would be “Duke of Cornwall,” seeing that he must necessarily remain so long a minor (miner.)

Cheshire [England] Observer 23 January 1864: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil supposes that the only way to satisfy everyone will be to simply string together a plethora of Royal names, perhaps in alphabetical order: Albert, Andrew, Charles, David, Edmund, Edward, Frederick, George, Henry, Patrick, Philip, William. Or possibly, in the way celebrity couples’ truncated names are joined by the media, the child will be christened “Harry-ghan.”

For other stories of Royal babies, see The Royal Baby and the Slum BabySaturday Snippets: Royal Baby Edition, Royal Children and their Toys, A Royal Nursery Contretemps, and Royal babies and their cradles. 

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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