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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Harris or Harrison Hamilton?

L. writes:
We are expecting our first baby, a surprise, February 22, 2012. My husband was very close to his grandfather, Harry, and my last name is Harris, so we think something in that vein would be meaningful. We have decided on Harriet for a girl, and both love it. (Her middle name would be Perrine, my mother's maiden name.) For a boy we had settled on Harrison, nickname Harry, but I am having doubts. (His middle name would be Matthew, after my husband.) Here are some concerns:

The baby's last name will be Hamilton, my husband's last name. I worry that Harrison Hamilton is too singsongy, and the two last names are too interchangeable (sounds very similar to Hamilton Harrison). My husband points out that Harry Hamilton, what our son will go by, doesn't come off that way (although he is a bit worried about the alliteration).

I am also worried that, although the name isn't overly popular at the moment (consistently in the 200s in the Social Security database for the last couple of decades), the -son ending for boys is pretty trendy right now (Jackson, Mason, Grayson, Hudson, etc.) and Harrison has recently become very popular in Australia and England, which might suggest it's about to catch on here in the U.S. Because my husband and I both went through school sharing our names with lots of classmates, we're hoping to avoid putting our kid in the same situation.

I do think it's a solid, sweet name with lots of significance for our family. It would be cute on a little boy and respectable on a man. And as an Indiana Jones/Beatles fan, my husband is happy with those associations.

The alternative is Harris, which doesn't end with -son and isn't even in the top 1000, popularity-wise. It also seems to flow better with Hamilton. But it is my last name--is that weird?--and my husband likes it less, although he is open to it. It also sounds less "name-y" in this day and age than Harrison.

Your advice would be appreciated!

I vastly prefer Harris Hamilton to Harrison Hamilton, for all the reasons you mention. Furthermore, I have a huge soft spot for the mother's maiden name (whether or not the mother is still using it) used as a child's name: I think it's a meaningful and touching choice, especially when the child will be receiving his father's first name as his middle name, as well as his father's surname.

Or there's the option of just naming him Harry. It's not so nicknamey that it can't stand on its own. This is particularly appealing if your husband's grandfather's given name was Harry.

Let's have a poll over to the right, to see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update! L. writes:
Thank you to everyone for your input!  In the end, all the stress was for naught:  Harriet Perrine Hamilton was born on February 15, 2012.  (She'll be 8 months old in a few days--here is a recent pic.)  She has the perfect name for her.  In the end we decided on Harrison for a boy, but I was never completely at peace with it.  So everything worked out!


Ruthie said...

I think it's great you have a last name that (1) works as a first name and (2) has a nickname that honors a family member. So lucky!

It wouldn't bother me to have the name be your last name if the nickname that he gets called every day is something else.

I would be worried about Harrison Hamilton being too sing-songy too, I think.

Jessica said...

I would go with Harris Hamilton. I love using the mother's maiden name - I wish mine was more name-y.

Fran said...

It sounds like Mom's last name(Harris) isn't so much her maiden name as it's the name she still uses. Is that right? I'm not sure it makes much difference to the preference I have for Harris instead of Harrison. If the last name didn't end in -on as well, it would sound better to me. But you could just name him Harry. I think that will be my vote.

phancymama said...

Agree that it sounds like Mom's current last name is Harris, and I see it as being confusing to have the mom's last name and child's first name the same. In my family growing up, mom kept maiden name, so we were known as the "Smith-Jones" family. Is this family knows as the "Harris-Hamilton" family? Would Harris Hamilton be the son of the Harris-Hamiltons? Which would then be confusing?

All that said, using the name Harry is a great solution, and I really also like Harrison and don't think it is too singsongy. And I love all the connections that the name options have.

Johanna said...

I actually don't mind Harrison Hamilton at all. And, since it would traditionally mean 'son of Harris', it would be perfectly appropriate for your little guy. If he feels it is too singsongy and Harry is not for him, he can always go by Harris later.

What a fabulous dilemma to have, by the way - all those spectacular family names to choose from!

Mrs S said...

I'd go with Harris. But Both names with your last name aren't that great.(sorry) Maybe Harris as a mn? But if you plan on using Harriet for a future daughter then I'd decide on a new name for your son. Or use Harris and decide on a new name for possible future daughter.

Patricia said...

I like Harry Hamilton best: Harry is clearly his first name and won't be confused with his mom's surname. And if Harry was grandpa's given name, that's another reason to stick with Harry. Too, I think Harry Hamilton flows better than Harris Hamilton.

Harriet Hamilton flows well too. I'm wondering if she'd have a nn? I recently read that Hallie is a nn for Harriet, as is Hattie -- both are very cute!

Gigi said...

I think Harrison Hamilton is a little sing-songy. Although, I do like Harris Hamilton. Plus the fact that Harris is your maiden name is just an added bonus!

StephLove said...

I know a couple kids (one boy and one girl) whose first names are their mothers' maiden names. I like it (in general and for you).

My second choice would be Harrison. I like that could mean descendent of Harris/Harry. I'm literal that way. I see the sing-songy problem though with the surname.

Harry would be my third choice. It seems too nick-namey to me.

Laura said...

Just wanted to chime in to say that Harriet Hamilton is completely adorable. Maybe Baby will be a girl and you won't have to worry about it! Best wishes to you.

Anonymous said...

If you are planning on having a second child one day, and you love Harriet... you may want to save that for her. Because you probably wouldn't name your children Harris and Harriet right? Are there other options to choose from for a boy?

Alice said...

i don't mind the harrison hamilton sing-songiness at all, and i love all the connections harrison has (beatles & indiana jones included!). i vote for harrison!

Bethany Haid said...

Love both names. If you are cool with Harris as a name with NN Harry, go for it. If Harris seems like a nickname already, well, maybe its a good choice to use Harrison and have the option of Harry or Harris for a NN.

And what if this is a girl, then you have a boy? Do you like Harris/son enough to feel like you should change Harriet's name? Or what if it is a boy, then would you feel sad about NOT using Harriet?

Rayne of Terror said...

Is Harold the usual full name for Harry? I have a soft spot for Harold bc of the movie Harold & Maude.

I think Harris is my favorite of the three choices with Harry a close second.

sarah said...

I don't like the -on -on endings of Harrison Hamilton, that's what makes it sound awkward to me. I think Harris Hamilton is perfect and you should go for it. If you have a girl in the future, Perrine would work as a first name, too, nickname Perri, then both of your kids would have last-name first-names with cute nicknames, lucky you!

plantingoaks said...

Yes, what about Harold?

While I love both Harris and Harrison individually, they are both problematic in your situation. I think straight Harry works best of the names in the poll, but agree that it is a bit nickname-y to be ideal.

With 'old man names' rising so quickly I imagine 'Harold' will start sounding much more current soon. You can beat the curve.

Patricia said...

Further thoughts: Harrison Hamilton would make a very cute and catchy title/main character (nn Harry) for a children's book. And maybe Harrison Hamilton WOULD be a fine name for your son. It's not a ridiculous name -- Harrison is a fine name -- and it's one that would be easily remembered by others.

---Just googled "Harrison Hamilton" and came across a young man with that name. (Seems to be a regular sort of guy --sports fan -- from a photogenic family.)

I think the name DOES work -- and sounds great with Matthew as the mn: Harrison Matthew Hamilton. I'm changing my vote!

[I had to vote again, wasn't able to eliminate my previous vote for Harry.]

Anonymous said...

Harris is better because it doesn't repeat the ending 'n' of Hamilton. Also, with all the Masons and Jacksons around, Harris sounds fresher than Harrison.

Laura said...

Not really a fan of either, but if I had to pick, I think Harrison Hamilton works better than Harris Hamilton. The singsongy-ness of Harrison Hamilton actually makes me like it more. If you want the nickname Harry, I think I prefer Henry Hamilton as the given name and this would be ok if you had a little girl named Harriet in the future.

Anne said...

Harris Hamilton over Harrison, definitely (in my opinion). "Harrison Hamilton" sounds too cutesy for a boy's name. And using "Harry" as the given name just rubs me the wrong way -- Harry should be short for something, not a name unto itself (kind of like "Jack" -- name your kid John, and call him Jack!).

I have to throw out one other thing just because I have read this question twice now and the same thing keeps going through my head -- I know he's not so much in the public eye any more, but every time I head "Harry Hamilton" I can't help but think of Harry Hamlin....

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think Harrison Hamilton would be the best way to go. I like the sound of the two names together and with Harrison your son could choose which of the three options he wants to be known by as an adult: Harrison Hamilton, Harris Hamilton or Harry Hamilton. I think there's a special quality in the pairing of Harrison and Hamilton -- very cute for a young lad and yet also distinguished sounding -- and memorable -- for an adult. But if he doesn't agree, he can still introduce himself as Harris Hamilton or Harry Hamilton.

changelivlife said...

I also immediately thought of Harry Hamlin when I read "Harry Hamilton". Could be a deal breaker for someone.

Also, my issue with Harris is saying the whole name it sounds like Harry Samilton to me. At the very least, I get a strong Sam-sound in the name. I'm not fond of it.

Which is all to say I voted for Harrison. While Harrison is a little sing-songy it is also regal. He sounds professional, intelligent, grown up. I like that Harrison gives you the option of both Harris and Harry, which is the best of all worlds. And, for the most part, until he is an adult you will rarely introduce him by his full name. You'll just say, our son Harrison.

When he's an adult, if he doesn't care for the rhymeyness of his full name he can always opt to introduce himself as Harry or Harris.

Use Harrison--plus, I get the impression that is the one you WANT to use. Good luck to you!

AirLand said...

What about Henry? Isn't Harry a nickname for Henry?

Elle said...

I never even think about it, but my uncle goes exclusively by his last name, Casey. His two children have his last name, so their last name is essentially the same as his first name. And yet it has never seemed weird. You would have the same situation, but in reverse. I like thr idea, and think that you're lucky to have last name that you can pass on in such a unique way. Harris Harris Hamilton is a great name!

Erin said...

Harriet is adorable! Such a great name!