We really need some help! I’m due with our second child, a girl, Sept 8. We had very little problem coming up with our son’s name – wanted something uncommon (but not unusual) thereby ending up using family names of Warren Geoffrey (Jof-free). Our last name sounds like Cavenner, and I’m conscious of the mouth-full effect of a 3 syllable last name. My name is Kristi, so growing up in the 80’s-90’s there were always other “Christy/Christie/Kristy/Kristie’s” around and I don’t want an overly popular name where my child has to go by last initial for differentiation. My husband is highly attracted to historical names, especially those with roots in the US founding, and doesn’t care if the name is popular or not. We are attempting to keep the strong contenders and possible final decision a surprise so I’m not discussing this with friends and family.
It seems that all the names I have originally been attracted to are either popular or gaining popularity. My favorite girl name since I was in high school is Charlotte, but apparently that is supposed to be “the name” this year. Other names I like but am dismissing due to popularity are Samantha & Madelyn. My husband really likes Abigail (I suggested this before I realized its popularity, but he likes it because it is the name of John Adams’ wife). Now he thinks that since I suggested the name and he likes it, it’s carved in stone – I’m not sold! I like the name Rose, for its simplicity, implied grace and lack of over-use. For middle names my husband is adamantly stuck on either Madison, after James Madison, or Pinckney (Pink-nee) a family surname.
I’d really like your opinion and possibly outside suggestions for classic, feminine, fresh names. Unless you can help me come up with some good ammunition/alternatives, my daughter’s name is going to be Abigail Madison Cavenner. Two of the most popular names today and a 3-3-3 syllable name. Not a bad name, but not the unique moniker I wanted.
We could look to the second President Adams's wife, whose name was Louisa Catherine (source: Wikipedia list of first ladies). We still end up with a 3-3-3 pattern (though I like that), and we end up with names that are currently in favor but not as common as Abigail and Madison.
I think if I were you I would find some names you like and then see if you can find anyone with those names in the right time period. This is what I did with my own husband, who likes scientists: when I thought of a name I really wanted to use, I pitched it to him as being after a scientist with the same name.
Or, look around in early U.S. history and see if any of the names interest you. Look at surnames and middle names and maiden names as well as first names. Here's where I started searching: Wikipedia: Women in the American Revolution. Margaret Corbin and Margaret Kemble Gage give us the name Margaret, and also the name Kemble if you want something very uncommon. Esther de Berdt gives us the name Esther, a name that's stayed consistently in the 200s/300s for decades. Do you like the name Molly? There's Molly Stark and the story/nickname of Molly Pitcher (maybe a real woman or maybe something like Rosie the Riveter). And there are plenty of Catherines, Kates, Janes, Marys, Elizabeths, Sarahs, Annes and Annas, if you like any of those. And for something more unusual, Frederika, Bailey, and Lindley.
I really like the name Pinckney for the middle name, if it works with the first name you choose: it's unusual, it's a family name, and the "pink" sound keeps it girly.
If you want to avoid popular, avoid fresh: anything that sounds fresh will also be sounding fresh to thousands of other parents. Test the name: say it to yourself, and if you get a little smack of cool, moist freshness, cross it off because we can almost guarantee it will be swooping up in popularity.
Esther Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Esther
Frederika Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Frederika
Louisa Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Louisa
Margaret Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Margaret
Molly Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Molly
Rose Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Rose
I also like Abigail Pinckney Cavenner. Abigail is a Top Ten name, but in my area they all seem to be going by Abby---so if yours goes by Abigail she might not need an initialed surname even if there's another in her class. The national usage of the name is at .71%---or roughly 7 Abigails per 1,000 baby girls. Charlotte may indeed jump this year, but last year it was roughly 2 Charlottes per 1,000 baby girls. That's not too bad, commonness-wise.
Name update 09-19-2010! Kristi writes:
Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Rose Marion Cavenner was born last week. Seeing all the responses helped sway my husband to Rose and reevaluate the middle names. We decided on Marion, another family name that had been previously discissed and dismissed. After meeting our little lady we decided Rose Marion was perfect!
Thanks again for all the help!