Peaky Blinders believed to have been an influence on 2018 baby name choices in England and Wales

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The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) have released their annual list of the most popular names given to children born in England and Wales in 2018 which shows that popular TV series Peaky Blinders may have been an influence in the number called Arthur and Ada.

Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular baby names in 2018. Oliver has been the most popular name for boys for the past six years and it is the third year running that Olivia has been the most popular name for girls. 

Arthur was the only new entry in the top 10 names for boys in 2018. There were 30% more baby Arthurs named in 2018 compared to 2017, with the name climbing 12 places to seventh place, replacing Jacob in the top 10. The name Arthur has not been in the top 10 names in England and Wales since 1924. 

Sophia and Grace entered the top 10 names for girls replacing Poppy and Lily. This is the first time Sophia has ever been in the top 10 in England and Wales while Grace was the most popular name for girls in 2006. 

There were six new entries in the top 100 names for boys in England and Wales in 2018: Grayson, Jasper, Rowan, Tobias, Sonny and Dominic replaced Austin, Ibrahim, Lewis, Nathan and Tyler. This is the first time Grayson, Rowan and Tobias have featured in the top 100 (Figure 1). 

Meanwhile, Ada, Delilah, Ayla, Zoe, Margot and Felicity entered the top 100 names for girls in 2018 for England and Wales. They replaced Darcey, Darcy, Julia, Leah, Megan and Victoria. Ada has returned to the top 100 for the first time since 1924 while this is the first time Delilah, Ayla and Margot have entered the top 100. Until 2018, Megan and Leah had been in the top 100 names for girls since 1994 and 1984 respectively

Nick Stripe, Vital Statistics Outputs Branch, Office for National Statistics said:

“Oliver and Olivia remained the most popular baby names in 2018, although there are the first signs that Oliver’s six-year reign as the number one name for boys is under threat. Arthur surged into the top 10 boys’ names for the first time since the 1920s, and Ada jumped into the girls’ top 100 for the first time in a century too, both perhaps inspired by characters in the BBC TV drama Peaky Blinders. 

On the flipside, the growth in the use of technology assistants in our homes may help to explain why the number of baby girls named Alexa has more than halved compared with 2017. Communicating with young children can be hard enough at the best of times.”

MOST POPULAR GIRLS’ NAMES IN 2018

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Isabella
  5. Sophia
  6. Charlotte
  7. Mia
  8. Amelia
  9. Harper
  10. Evelyn
  11. Abigail
  12. Emily
  13. Elizabeth
  14. Mila
  15. Ella
  16. Avery
  17. Sofia
  18. Camila
  19. Aria
  20. Scarlett
  21. Victoria
  22. Madison
  23. Luna
  24. Grace
  25. Chloe
  26. Penelope
  27. Layla
  28. Riley
  29. Zoey
  30. Nora
  31. Lily
  32. Eleanor
  33. Hannah
  34. Lillian
  35. Addison
  36. Aubrey
  37. Ellie
  38. Stella
  39. Natalie
  40. Zoe
  41. Leah
  42. Hazel
  43. Violet
  44. Aurora
  45. Savannah
  46. Audrey
  47. Brooklyn
  48. Bella
  49. Claire
  50. Skylar

MOST POPULAR BOYS’ NAMES IN 2018

  1. Liam
  2. Noah
  3. William
  4. James
  5. Oliver
  6. Benjamin
  7. Elijah
  8. Lucas
  9. Mason
  10. Logan
  11. Alexander
  12. Ethan
  13. Jacob
  14. Michael
  15. Daniel
  16. Henry
  17. Jackson
  18. Sebastian
  19. Aiden
  20. Matthew
  21. Samuel
  22. David
  23. Joseph
  24. Carter
  25. Owen
  26. Wyatt
  27. John
  28. Jack
  29. Luke
  30. Jayden
  31. Dylan
  32. Grayson
  33. Levi
  34. Isaac
  35. Gabriel
  36. Julian
  37. Mateo
  38. Anthony
  39. Jaxon
  40. Lincoln
  41. Joshua
  42. Christopher
  43. Andrew
  44. Theodore
  45. Caleb
  46. Ryan
  47. Asher
  48. Nathan
  49. Thomas
  50. Leo

The proportion of babies with a name ranking in the top 100 continued decreasing in 2018

In 2018, there were 657,076 live births in England and Wales. Of these live births, there were 62,729 different names registered in 2018.

Since 1996, the percentage of babies given a name in the top 10, top 25, top 50 and top 100 has decreased (Figure 2) and the list of names has become more diverse. In 1996, two-thirds (66.7%) of babies had a name within the top 100, while in 2018 this was true for less than half of babies (45.2%). 

This long-term increase in the diversification of names given to babies may be because of a number of changes in our culture and society. Factors likely to be influencing these changes include: the decline in Christianity and church attendance; the growing influence of popular and celebrity culture; a desire for originality and individuality as much as conformity; and a growth in the number of babies born in England and Wales to non-UK born parents

While a handful of names, such as George, William, Edward and Elizabeth have consistently featured in the top 100 since the early 20th century, most fluctuate in popularity over time. Names which were popular in the 1940s and 1950s tend to feature much lower in the 2018 rankings, while some names which ranked highly in the early 1900s are starting to increase in popularity again.

Compared with 2008, only Oliver, Harry, Jack and Charlie have remained in the top ten names for boys. None of the 2018 top 10 names for boys featured in the top 10 between 1944 and 1984. 

Many boys names that were in the top 20 in the mid-20th century have dramatically fallen down the rankings. Kenneth, Roger, Keith, Terence and Barry were all in the top 20 names for boys in 1944 but none are in the top 1,000 in 2018. 

Olivia, Amelia, Emily and Grace were the only names to feature in both the 2008 and 2018 top 10 names for girls. None of the top 10 names for girls in 2018 appeared in the top 10 before 1994. However, names such as Florence and Ivy that were popular in the early 1900s, but left the top 100 names for decades, are now back inside the top 20 names for girls in 2018. 

As with names for boys, most names for girls that were popular in the mid-20th century have fallen out of favour with new parents. The names Christine, Jean, Ann, Susan, Janet, Maureen, Carol, Pauline, Joan and Pamela were all in the top 20 in 1944, but none are in the top 1,000 names for girls in 2018.

The ONS cannot say for sure why this is happening. However, new parents may associate names which were popular in the 40s and 50s with their own parents or grandparents, and therefore be less inclined to choose them. In contrast, it is unlikely that new parents of today will have living memories of those born in the early 1900s, which may contribute to the revival in popularity of these names.

While some names for girls are making a return, other names that were popular at the start of the 1900s are now considerably less popular. In 2018, there were fewer than three girls named Gladys, or Marjorie – names that had been in the top 20 in the early decades of the 1900s. However, these names were still in the top 100 in the 1930s and 1940s respectively, which means they are still likely to be within living memory.

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