21 Beautiful but Forgotten Victorian Baby Names

Laura Emerson | Jun 23, 2016 Pregnancy
21 Beautiful but Forgotten Victorian Baby Names

baby girl

There is something truly beautiful and moving about getting to choose a baby name. But when parents-to-be get this privilege, it can feel like a daunting task to choose the exact right one for their little one, especially with the thousands of options available. Although moms and dads are looking to the future for their little one, when it comes to the name, they may want to look to the past for inspiration. 

Modern parents in search of perfect names are going for the sought-after "it" names from the Victorian era (think Ella and Grace). But there were a lot of gorgeous and unusual names from the late 1800s that they probably haven't thought about ... yet! We found 21 beautiful Victorian baby names that we know parents are going to find appealing. Trust us!

During the Victorian era, across-the-pond trends were common in the US. England was peaceful during Queen Victoria's reign -- a name that spawned an entire era! Meanwhile, the US was busy establishing its democracy during a bloody civil war. Americans borrowed elaborate fashions from England as well as now-classic literature by Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, and the Bronte sisters. Pioneers and prospectors were moving west in search of fortune, and average people were just trying to eat. 

The feminine names in the US during this time weren't tough like the times; they were sweet, even frilly. Popular male names were often inspired by religious beliefs or family names and trades. What we think of as quintessential Victorian names such as Owen, Ella, Grace, and Isaac have been devoured by today's parents looking for appealing vintage sounds. But what Victorian names are still flying under the modern-day radar? This list includes tasteful antiques that just might make an appearance on a list of favorites soon.


    baby girl names adelia
    Image via Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock

    Adelia strikes a stylistic balance between newly fashionable names Adele and Adelaide. This pitch-perfect choice has been sadly missing from our baby name favorites -- not used in the US since Victorian times. One exception is George Clooney's sister, named Adelia, though she goes by the nickname Ada.


    baby boy name agustus
    Image via Julie Metcalf/Shutterstock

    Fit for a toddling baby boy or a staunch Roman emperor, this seriously sober name also has the kind of whimsy that makes us smile. Augustus takes the more popular name August up a notch in dignity and still comes with the approachable nickname Gus (pioneers even liked to use Gust).


    baby names baxter
    Image via Inara Prusakova/Shutterstock

    It's easy to imagine a boy wearing Baxter today, alongside Dexter and other names we love for their x-appeal. This proper British surname means "baker" and feels friendly and approachable, maybe thanks in part to Ron Burgundy's dog in Anchorman, but don't let that spoil this name! The nickname Bax has a fresh, trend-worthy sound as well, like a combo of Bash and Jax.

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    baby boy names fletcher
    Image via Flashon Studio/Shutterstock

    A sturdy name meaning "arrow maker," Fletcher has a catchy sound along the lines of Flynn and Archer. But it hasn't yet recovered since hitting a peak in popularity in 1892. We are fond of the nickname Fletch, which may bring to mind a mystery-solving reporter played by Chevy Chase in the Fletch movies (Fletcher was the character's last name.)


    baby girl names clementine
    Image via SvetlanaFedoseyeva/Shutterstock

    Is this name just for celebrity babies? We don't think so, though it seems everyday parents need some encouragement to free Clementine from its banjo-stringed cage. This feminine form of Clement may be a wonderful choice for parents who would like a Victorian-revival girls' name that's bold, frilly, and has a bit of twang. (Used by celeb parents Ethan Hawke, Claudia Schiffer, and Rachel Griffiths.)

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  • EBBA

    baby girl names ebba
    Image via iStock.com/ Thomas Vogel

    In Sweden, Ebba is popular. But here, this Germanic saint's name was lost long ago, along with its male derivative, Ebbe (short for Eberhard). It could easily take a place next to Ella and Emma. In the US, Ebba will be viewed as unusual but sweetly old-fashioned.


    baby girl names elenora
    Image via anastasia buinovska/Shutterstock

    For a name that sounds like a combo of Ella and Nora, we're surprised more aren't catching on to this Victorian darling. After Eleanora had faded from use, variations such as Eleanor and Ellen took its place. We think it's safe to turn back the clock to this more elaborate but playground-ready form.


    baby boy names ephraim
    Image via Leonid and Anna Dedukh/Shutterstock

    A traditional Hebrew name and a tribe of Israel in the Old Testament, Ephraim is saturated with history and culture. This name is just now showing potential in the US, barely appearing in the top 1,000 names in 2016 for the first time since the 1800s. It was featured years ago for a character in the name-craze-inducing Twilight series, but that's not likely what inspired our newfound interest (though it probably didn't hurt!). Pronunciation is varied, though the most common is EHF-rÉm.


    baby girl names harriet
    Image via iStock.com/ McIninch

    We're not just going to bring this name back from Victorian times; we're bringing it back to the US from across the pond. Although Harriet is enjoying the popularity it deserves in the UK, Americans are a little shy about this sophisticated and sweet feminine form of Henry. Shorten it to Hattie and the name becomes a well-rounded vintage charmer.

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  • HUGH

    baby boy names hugh
    Image via FamVeld/Shutterstock

    Many early Americans brought this name with them from Europe, though its popularity started waning quickly. It has Germanic roots with lots of use in France and across the UK. Actors Jackman and Grant have helped bring Hugh into the 21st century, causing a few of us to take a second look at this promising throwback name.


    baby boy names larkin
    Image via Zdenka Darula/Shutterstock

    This surname and variant of Laurence sounds so modern, it's hard to believe the last time Larkin made the US charts was in the late 1800s. Recently used by celeb couple Alan Ruck and Mireille Enos for their son (born July 2014), we think this savvy Victorian choice is more than ready for the 21st century.

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    baby girl names luella
    Image via iStock.com/ Anna Omelchenko

    Would it be surprising to meet a little Luella? Probably not, and yet this name is patiently waiting for more parents to consider its charm. It has a vintage feel and sneaks in on-trend nicknames such as Lulu and Ella.


    baby girl names mabel
    Image via iStock.com/ jonas unruh

    On the heels of hits like Maci and Bella, we're transforming this name's reputation from passé to pretty. So we're happy to report that after a long absence from the top 1,000, we just saw Mabel appear on the charts, ranked at 707 without dilly-dallying around the 900s. We think it's bound to catch on, at least a little.


    baby names merritt
    Image via iStock.com/ Rohappy

    A sweet English surname meaning "boundary gate," we think Merritt is a fitting twist on vintage contemporary favorites like Everett. This appealing choice sounds like a virtue name, as merit is a word that means "worthy."


    baby girl names
    Image via iStock.com/ Mermusta

    A charming feminine form of Otto popular in the 1800s, Ottilie deserves a little more time in the spotlight. With attractive nicknames such as Tillie and perhaps Lottie, we think this friend of Natalie has lots of potential.


    baby girl names
    Image via titov dmitriy/Shutterstock

    This elegant name is fit for royalty. Aptly so, because Rayne means queen in a number of languages including English and French. Though there may be questions about its origin, there is no question that Rayne is a name for a lady leader.  


    baby boy names simeon
    Image via noBorders - Brayden Howie/Shutterstock

    A Hebrew name that has been dancing around for more than a decade, Simeon is a steady but uncommon choice. Its sound may be a little different, but we love every bit of its three syllables and "on"-trend ending, with similarities to Sebastian and Damian.

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    baby girl names viola
    Image via Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

    A Shakespearean charmer from Twelfth Night, Viola takes its cues from the more popular Victorian choice, Violet. Those who fear it's too much like the musical instrument can relax -- it's usually pronounced viy-OH-lÉ. Catch a production of Twelfth Night, movie adaptations like She's the Man, or Gwyneth Paltrow's character in Shakespeare in Love to be convinced. (Or just look to Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis.)


    baby names wiley
    Image via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

    Both Wiley and Wylie can be found among family trees going back to the late 1800s. It's a twist on Willie that makes a sly statement. With troublemaker names such as Wilder and Rowdy on the rise today, we think this cunning choice could fit right in.


    baby girl names winnie
    Image via iStock.com/ Thomas Vogel

    Celebrity baby name influence can be deceiving. Such is the case for Winnie, an antiquated name that many of us had forgotten until Jimmy Fallon's daughter was born. The response to her adorable name was overwhelmingly positive, but only a few parents followed the Fallons' lead -- so far.


    baby girl names zadie
    Image via iStock.com/ fabphoto

    Add Zadie to that list right now. A zingy take on the rediscovered antique Sadie, Zadie was at its most popular in the 1800s and has pioneer-revival written all over it. It was worn by English author Zadie Smith, who changed her name from Sadie when she was 14.

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