Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry
Sometimes the names of the fathers who sired future super achievers turn out to be a lot more interesting than those they bestowed on their progeny. For example, Truman Capote’s dad’s name was Archulus, Humphrey Bogart’s was Belmont, Bela Lugosi’s Istvan and Marc Chagall’s Khatskel. Intriguing appellations, yes, but we’ll go here with the more wearable ones.
George Washington’s father was a Virginia Colony-born tobacco planter. <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Augustine" target="_blank">Augustine</a>, the influential saint’s name, snuck back onto the 2012 Top 1000 list at Number 999 after being in limbo for decades, perhaps slip-sliding in the wake of the growing popularity of August.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was born <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cassius" target="_blank">Cassius</a> Marcellus Clay, Jr, and fought under his birth name until 1964, when he entered the Nation of Islam and was renamed Muhammad Ali, rejecting Cassius Clay as “a slave name” -- though the original Cassius Clay was an abolitionist. The august Latin Cassius is another ancient relic that has recently been revived, along with Caspian, Cassian and Casper.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Clyde" target="_blank">Clyde</a> Leonard Morrison named his son Marion, the future actor who appeared on screen first as Duke Morrison, then taking a new surname after Revolutionary War general “Mad Anthony” Wayne, to become the iconic John Wayne. Clyde, a Top 100 name in the 1930’s -- the era of Bonnie and Clyde -- has a cool, jazzy feel that is starting to appeal to hipster parents.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Cornelius" target="_blank">Cornelius</a> Coffin Williams named his son Thomas Lanier, but the boy would go on to win literary fame under his adopted name of Tennessee. Cornelius has a lot going for it: it’s New Testament biblical, it’s papal, has the stylish Latinate <em>ius</em> ending, and also boasts Shakespearean and Harry Potter-esque cred.
An odd-couple duo shares the paternal name of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Elias" target="_blank">Elias</a>: Walt Disney and Cary Grant. Disney was given his father’s name as his middle; it descended in the family via his great-grandfather, Arundel Elias Disney. Elias, the Greek form of Elijah, has jumped 128 places since the start of the Millenium, and looks to be climbing even higher.
Art dealer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Francis" target="_blank">Francis</a> Lenn Taylor was the father of the lovely Elizabeth Rosemond. When the new pope adopted the name of Francis, inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, it put the spotlight on this somewhat neglected classic, avoided perhaps because of possible confusion with the increasingly popular female Frances. It will be interesting to see how its new eminence affects its use as a baby name.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Jarvis" target="_blank">Jarvis</a> Waring Rockwell named his first son Junior and his second Norman Percevel. Although it isn’t currently ranked, Jarvis, with its quirky Dickensian charm, has been attracting some recent attention on the Nameberry forums.
<a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Josiah" target="_blank">Josiah</a> Franklin, a candle and soap maker, fathered seventeen children (with two wives), the fifteenth of whom was Benjamin. The Old Testament name Josiah is riding a wave of unprecedented popularity -- it entered the Top 100 in 2008, and is now at Number 79 -- its highest point in recorded US baby name history.
Swedish artist/photographer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Justus" target="_blank">Justus</a> Bergman pretty much raised daughter Ingrid (named for Princess Ingrid of Sweden) as a single father after his wife’s early death. Justus -- more unusual than Justin and not as blatantly virtuous as Justice -- is a name we’re expecting to see more of.
Elvis Costello, née Declan Patrick MacManus, was the son of <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Ross" target="_blank">Ross</a> MacManus, a successful musician in his own right. And now that <em>Friends</em> has faded into syndication land, it might be time to reevaluate this gentle, understated single-syllable Scottish surname name. One of Ross’s other derivations is as a nickname for a redhead.
Unusually named <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Squire" target="_blank">Squire</a> Boone, a Quaker weaver and blacksmith, called his sixth child the more conventional Daniel. Thought of more as a title than a name, Squire makes for a highly distinctive possibility. Trivia tidbit: Hollywood hyphenate Joss Whedon made his daughter a Squire.
Automotive design engineer <a href="http://nameberry.com/babyname/Silvio" target="_blank">Silvio</a> Anthony Ciccone (known as Tony) is a first-generation Italian American, whose slated-for-fame daughter (<em>Papa, Don’t Preach!</em>) shares her mother’s first name. The handsome sylvan Italian name Silvio could benefit from the current rediscovery of Sylvia and Sylvie -- though it may have been tainted by the reputation of Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi.
More Great Baby Names
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/09/popular-baby-names-2012_n_3246926.html" target="_blank">The Most Popular Baby Names Of 2012</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/classic-boys-baby-names_n_1884361.html" target="_blank">Classic Boys' Names That Are Making A Comeback</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/27/boy-baby-names-inspired-by-books_n_3157185.html" target="_blank">13 Great Boy Names Inspired By Book Characters</a>