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Occasional Paper

No.2

Published on 4th January 2001

Popular Forenames in Scotland, 1900 - 2000

G W L Jackson, BSc, MA
Statistician, National Records of Scotland
G L Donnelly, BSc
Assistant Statistician, National Records of Scotland
 

This paper presents information on the most popular names given to babies in Scotland during 2000. It also considers the most popular names of the last decade and makes some comparisons with new analyses for 1900, 1950 and 1975.

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Contents

Introduction

In 1991 the Registrar General published a booklet entitled Personal Names in Scotland which gave information on names appearing on the statutory registers for 1990. The booklet covered surnames as well as forenames and gave some comparisons with similar surveys that had been carried out in 1858, 1937, 1958, and 197

During the 1990s the Registrar General has published annual lists of the most popular forenames. This paper presents provisional information for births registered in 2000. Additionally, it considers the most popular forenames of the last decade and gives some comparisons with new analyses for 1900, 1950 and 1975. A future Occasional Paper will return to the topic of surnames.

The most popular forenames in 2000

Table 1 below gives a provisional list of the top twenty boys' and girls' names during 2000. The table also shows changes in the rankings since 1999.
 
Table 1 Top 20 boys' and girls' names, Scotland, 2000 (provisional), - together with changes since 1999

  2000       1999 Change in ranking
Rank Name No. Rank No 1999 - 2000
           
(a) Boys        
           
1 Jack 773 1 883 No Change
2 Lewis 740 2 784 No Change
3 Ryan 639 3 735 No Change
4 Cameron 628 4 699 No Change
5 James 502 7 562 +2
6 Andrew 463 6 576 No Change
7 Matthew 451 13 468 +6
8 Liam 449 8 554 No Change
9 Callum 442 12 482 +3
10 Jamie 435 16 414 +6
11 Ross 418 5 619 -6
12 Jordan 414 10 494 -2
13 Daniel 402 18 402 +5
14 Kieran 392 14= 434 No Change
15 Connor 388 11 491 -4
16 Scott 377 9 495 -7
17 Kyle 369 14= 434 -3
18 David 355 17 409 -1
19 Adam 352 20 356 +1
20 Dylan 316 22 331 +2
           
(b) Girls        
           
1 Chloe 713 1 852 No Change
2= Amy 556 5 577 +3
2= Lauren 556 4 602 +2
4 Emma 538 3 605 -1
5 Rebecca 517 2 721 -3
6 Megan 479 6 566 No Change
7 Caitlin 439 7 565 No Change
8 Rachel 420 8 507 No Change
9 Erin 381 9 396 No Change
10 Hannah 376 12 364 +2
11 Sophie 358 10 385 -1
12 Lucy 330 15= 312 +3
13 Emily 305 11 367 -2
14 Shannon 303 15= 312 +1
15 Katie 281 17 270 +2
16 Nicole 276 14 314 -2
17 Sarah 263 13 332 -4
18 Courtney 228 19 246 +1
19 Anna 218 27 176 +8
20 Morgan 213 18 248 -2

Click on the following links for lists of the top hundred names in 2000:
(a) Boys by rank;  (b) boys alphabetically;   (c) girls by rank;   (d) girls alphabetically.

Boys

As in 1999 Jack was the favourite name for boys. In fact the top four boys' names (Jack, Lewis, Ryan and Cameron) were the same as in 1999. There were three new entries in the top ten: Matthew up from 13th place to 7th place, Callum up from 12th to 9th and Jamie up from 16th to 10th. There were no major moves in the top twenty and in the top fifty only Luke, up from 52nd to 39th showed a change of more than ten places.

Girls

For the third year in a row Chloe was the top choice for girls. Amy and Lauren were equal 2nd, both up a few places on 1999. However, there was little change in the top ten with only one newcomer, Hannah, up two places to 10th. As with the boys there were no major movers in the top twenty, but lower down the top fifty Beth (32nd) and Leah (35th equal) both rose by over twenty places.

Geographical distribution

There was a fair degree of agreement around the country with Jack top in 9 of the 32 council areas and Lewis in 8; for the girls, Chloe was top in 15. Similar analyses for England and Wales also showed Jack and Chloe to be the most popular names in 2000.

Here are the top ten names in each of the 32 council areas.

More information for England & Wales can be found at www.statistics.gov.uk

The most popular names of the 1990s

Table 2 shows the top names of the ten years 1990 - 1999. The most popular names were Ryan and Emma. Ryan was the most popular name for boys for five years, 1994 - 1998. Emma was the top name for girls for six years, 1990 - 1993 and 1996 -1997.
Table 2 The top names of the 1990s

Rank Boys Girls
1 Ryan Emma
2 Andrew Lauren
3 David Rebecca
4 Scott Amy
5 James Sarah
6 Ross Laura
7 Michael Rachel
8 Christopher Megan
9 Daniel Chloe
10 Craig Nicole

Some comparisons with earlier years

Since the 1991 booklet was completed it has become possible to use computerised indexes to the birth registers to analyse first forenames for any chosen year. For this paper counts were carried out for 1900, 1950 and 1975.

Table 3 gives the top ten names for boys and girls for each of these years together with the provisional lists for 2000. It also shows the percentages of births in each year given these names.

Table 3 Top ten most popular names registered in Scotland in 1900, 1950, 1975 and 2000

  1900   1950   1975   2000*
Rank Name %   Name %   Name %   Name %
                       
(a) Boys                    
                       
1 John 13.2   John 10.4   David 5.1   Jack 3.0
2 James 12.2   James 9.0   John 4.2   Lewis 2.9
3 William 11.4   William 7.1   Paul 3.4   Ryan 2.5
4 Robert 6.9   Robert 5.9   James 3.4   Cameron 2.5
5 Alexander 5.8   David 5.5   Mark 3.2   James 2.0
6 George 5.1   Thomas 3.8   Scott 3.1   Andrew 1.8
7 Thomas 5.1   Alexander 3.4   Andrew 2.9   Matthew 1.8
8 David 4.0   George 3.2   Steven 2.8   Liam 1.8
9 Andrew 2.5   Ian 2.8   Robert 2.4   Callum 1.7
10 Charles 2.2   Brian 2.2   Stephen 2.1   Jamie 1.7
                       
(b) Girls                    
                       
1 Mary 11.7   Margaret 8.1   Nicola 2.8   Chloe 2.9
2 Margaret 9.1   Elizabeth 5.9   Karen 2.5   Amy(2=) 2.3
3 Elizabeth 7.3   Mary 5.3   Susan 2.1   Lauren(2=) 2.3
4 Annie 4.8   Catherine 3.2   Claire 2.0   Emma 2.2
5 Jane 4.7   Anne 2.7   Fiona 2.0   Rebecca 2.1
6 Agnes 4.7   Linda 2.6   Angela 1.9   Megan 2.0
7 Isabella 4.4   Helen 2.4   Sharon 1.9   Caitlin 1.8
8 Catherine 4.3   Patricia 2.2   Gillian 1.7   Rachel 1.7
9 Janet 3.6   Irene 2.0   Julie 1.7   Erin 1.6
10 Helen 3.5   Agnes 1.9   Jennifer 1.6   Hannah 1.5

*Data for 2000 are provisional

Lists of the top hundred names in 1900 (a) by rank (b) alphabetically

Lists of the top hundred names in 1950 (a) by rank (b) alphabetically

Lists of the top hundred names in 1975 (a) by rank (b) alphabetically

Three key points emerge from Table 3:

  1. The similarity of the lists for 1900 and 1950.
  2. The substantial differences evident during the second half of the century, particularly for girls.
  3. The decreasing proportion of babies being given the top names.

Comparisons between 1900 and 1950

The top ten names for boys in 1900 and 1950 are remarkably similar. The top eight names are the same; and the top four names (John, James, William and Robert) have the same positions.

For girls the similarity is less striking, though the top three names are the same, albeit in a different order. Three further names, Agnes, Catherine and Helen, appear in both lists and Annie is replaced by Anne.

Changes from 1950 to 2000

Only four of the top ten boys' names for 1950 appear in the 1975 list; and only one of these, James, is also present in 2000. Only James and Andrew appear in both the 1975 and 2000 lists.

The comparisons for girls reveal a complete change between 1950 and 1975 and again between 1975 and 2000.

The number of names used

Table 3 shows that in 1900 the top five boys' and girls' names covered 50 % and 38%, respectively, of all baby boys and girls; and on their own, the top names, John and Mary, were used for 13% and 12% of the babies. Coincidentally, these are the same proportions covered by the top five names for each sex in 2000. These figures reflect the fact that a much greater range of names is now used, despite the total number of births registered falling by about three-fifths over the period, from some 131,000 to around 53,000. Some 2,200 first names (1,000 for boys and 1,200 for girls) were used in 1900 compared with around 4,800 (1,850 for boys and 2,950 for girls) in 2000. Approximately 300 boys' names and 300 girls' names were used in both 1900 and 2000. Names used in 1900 that were not used in 2000 include Albert, Ernest, Walter, Dorothy, Euphemia and Marjory.

Further comparisons

Table 4 presents the changing popularity of the top ten names in 1900 during the twentieth century. For boys only James is in the top ten in each of the years shown; Andrew would also have achieved this but for a fall to 11th place in 1950. All the others remain in the top hundred throughout with the exception of Charles in 2000. The sub-table for girls highlights the extent to which the top names of 1900 have fallen out of popularity, with only Catherine and Elizabeth still in the top hundred for 2000.
 
Table 4  The top ten names in 1999 over the following 100 years

  1900 1950 1975

2000 [Footnote p]

  1900 1950 1975

2000 [Footnote p]

Boys         Girls        
John 1 1 2 27 Mary 1 3 50 **
James 2 2 4 5 Margaret 2 1 26= *
William 3 3 16 42 Elizabeth 3 2 22 64=
Robert 4 4 9 30 Annie 4 29 * **
Alexander 5 7 30 31 Jane 5 19 43 *
George 6 8 36 78 Agnes 6 10 ** *
Thomas 7 6 26 22 Isabella 7 22 ** *
David 8 5 1 18 Catherine 8 4 39= 64=
Andrew 9 11 7 6 Janet 9 15 82= *
Charles 10 15 59 * Helen 10 7 41 **
Footnotes
p Data for 2000 are provisional.
* Ranked higher than 250
** Ranked between 101 and 250

 

Table 5 takes a backward look at the top names for 2000. As mentioned above, Andrew and James also appear in the top ten for 1900. However, of the others only two were in the top hundred in 1900; and two, Ryan and Liam, were not recorded at all. Not one of the top girls' names in 2000 appeared in the 1950 top hundred; and three, Caitlin, Chloe and Erin, were not recorded. In addition to these three, two more, Lauren and Megan, were not recorded in 1900. However, four more traditional names (Emma, Rebecca, Rachel, and Hannah) did feature in the 1900 top hundred.

Table 5 The popularity of the top ten names in 2000 over the previous 100 years

  1900 1950 1975 2000 [Footnote p]   1900 1950 1975 2000 [Footnote p]
Boys         Girls        
Jack ** 72 ** 1 Chloe - - * 1
Lewis 55 ** ** 2 Amy ** * ** 2=
Ryan - * 64 3 Lauren - * ** 2=
Cameron ** 89= 82= 4 Emma 76 ** 35= 4
James 2 2 4 5 Rebecca 51= ** 97= 5
Andrew 9 11 7 6 Megan - * * 6
Matthew 28 59 52= 7 Caitlin - - * 7
Liam - ** ** 8 Rachel 38= ** 77= 8
Callum * ** ** 9 Erin - - - 9
Jamie * - 61= 10 Hannah 38= ** ** 10
Footnotes
p Data for 2000 are provisional.
* Ranked higher than 250
** Ranked between 101 and 250
- Not used

The number of forenames given 1975 - 2000

The information presented above has been limited to the first name recorded on the birth registers. For recent years it has been possible to derive a count of the number of names given. This information is summarised in the Chart below. Over the last quarter of a century between 60 - 70 % of boys and girls received two forenames. Over the same period the proportion of boys with only one given name has fallen from 29% to 17% and the proportion receiving three or more has risen from 6% to 16%. For girls the proportion receiving a single forename has fallen from 36% to 24% and the proportion receiving three or more has risen from 3% to 12%. Though on average girls receive fewer names they are ahead when it comes to compound (hyphenated) names. Around 1 in 80 girls' names are hyphenated whereas fewer than 1 in 500 boys' names are.

 
Number of Forenames, 1975 - 2000
Chart showing number of forenames, 1975 to 2000, points as described in the commentary
 

Further Information

The Registrar General's registration records, which date back to 1855, have been augmented to include a computerised index to the Church of Scotland parish registers back to 1553. This has enabled customers to analyse the frequency of occurrence of Scottish forenames and surnames over four centuries. For further information on the availability of data please contact Statistics Customer Services (email: customer@gro-scotland.gsi.gov.uk).
There are many websites dedicated to name lists. The two given below give much background information and links to other sites of interest.

www.babynames.com

Notes on the information presented

  1. The provisional data for 2000 cover births registered up to early December.
  2. The counts of names were based on the first forename recorded on the birth register.
  3. Different spellings, e.g. Stephen; Steven, were counted separately.
  4. Accents were ignored.

Page last updated: 22 July 2014


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