Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry.com.
The figures for the most popular names in England and Wales in 2011 have just been released by the Office for National Statistics, and they contain plenty of surprises and interesting tidbits. For one thing, it seems that despite a lot of cross-pollination, there is still a considerable divide in name popularity across the Atlantic. Just looking at the two top names -- which replaced last year’s Olivia and Oliver -- there is Amelia, which is number 30 in the U.S., and Harry, which is way down at number 709 here (although with all those captivating shots of the ebullient prince as a spectator at the Olympics, this could change).
As usual, there is a generous infusion of celebrity influence, from the royal realm, show biz and sports. Amelia, for example, was quite probably given a bounce by the 2011 X-Factor finalist Amelia Lily. Led by Alfie in the top five, the nickname name trend continues for both girls and boys -- Evie, Ellie, Millie, Rosie, Archie, Tommy, Ollie and Bobby being among the hottest.
Here are the new Top 20 names in England and Wales:
Of these, seven names are not even in the U.S. Top 200, while three of them -- Alfie, Poppy and Freya -- are not to be found on our top thousand roster at all! Further down in the Brit Top 50 are four more names that haven’t gotten their U.S. green cards: Archie, Maisie, Imogen and Florence.
In the U.K., there were several names new to the Top 100: Bella, Willow, Elsie and Kayla for girls and Tommy, Frankie (those nickname names keep coming!), Blake, Elijah and Jackson for boys.
Names that have risen most sharply are Eliza, Evelyn, Sofia and Harriet; and Jenson (directly influenced by British race car driver Jenson Button), Dexter (Dexter is also a hit show in the U.K.), Arthur and Riley.
Separate listings are also given for the top names in Wales, headed by Lily, Amelia, Ava, Ruby and Olivia, and Oliver, Jack, Jacob, Riley and Ethan. Some native names are found on Wales list as well: Seren, Ffion, Cerys, Carys and Lowri, and Iestyn, Ioan, and Iwan.
The most popular names in Scotland are Jack -- for the seventh year running -- and Sophie, exactly the same top pair ruling in Northern Ireland.
One trivia tidbit from the British Office for National Statistics: there are seasonal factors as well. Holly was the second most popular name for girls born in December and the name Summer reached the height of its popularity in August.