Wednesday, 19 October 2011

1809-1810: Lister, Garrett and Cecil

Here are three names from yesterday's of The Gentleman's Magazine list for the years 1809-1810 that I think have potential.

Meaning: Dyer.

Lister is a surname name like Lennox and Addison, and it is an occupational name like Taylor and Mason.

Its history extends back to 13th century Scotland, but it was more commonly used as a surname in Northern England in areas where the industry concentrated on the wool trade, such as Yorkshire. 

Lister comes from the Middle English word 'litte' and the Scottish word 'litster' both which meant 'to dye'. The name therefore is strongly connected with the textile dying industry. 

The surname of Lister was often associated with the Barons Lister, a noble title that became extinct in 1912.

There are various spellings of the name, but the two most common are Lister and Lyster, the latter being used mainly in Ireland. 

If Lister is ‘too out there’ for you, why not consider Lester, a name that looks very alike and is a more familiar option, although somewhat dated. There is always Alister, a variation of Alistair, a more conventional choice.

Lister does not appear anywhere near the top 1000, and Lester has disappeared also.

Names you might also like: Mercer, Chester, Adair, Caird and Lisle.

Meaning: Spear Strength or Spear Rule.

Garrett came to England with the Normans, and it derives from the Germanic names of Gerard or Gerald and therefore has early medieval roots.

It is mainly used as a surname, but has become popular in the US as a first name. Its popularity increased partly because of the mention of Garrett in the Twilight saga. It was at its peak in 2000 when it ranked at number 74. Even though the name had steadily climbed the charts, it has seen a slow drop in popularity, and is currently at number 189.

Garrett has a very masculine sound to it, making it very unlikely that it will be adopted as a girl name. It is also easy to pronounce and there are very few spelling alternatives, meaning less confusion. It is a straight forward name for the parent who wants simplicity, but doesn't want to go the traditional way.

Names you might like: Gerard, Emmett, Grant, Ethan, Carter, Dorian and Vincent.


Meaning: Latin for 'Blind'.

Cecil has seemingly been forgotten. With the increasing popularity of Cecily and Cecilia, Cecil sounds too girly for many parents. But despair not Cecil lovers; the name is still a favourite for many. It has an old worldly feel, not to mention how very English sounding it is.

Cecil comes from the Roman name Caecilius, also the name of a third century saint. The name became popular in the nineteenth century because of the Cecil family. William Cecil, Baron Burghley, was the chief advisor to Queen Elizabeth I. 

So, if you like English surname names, perhaps names with an aristocratic flair, then why not add Cecil to your list? If Cecil still sounds too feminine to your ears, there is always Cecilio or Cecilius as options. Plus, there is no worry of it becoming an overnight sensation (although you never know), since it dropped off the top 1000 in 1997 when it was at number 974.

Names you might like: Clive, Linus, Syrus, Alfred, Monty, Theodore and Edmund.

What do you think? Any of the three names catch your attention? Maybe they were already a well established favourite of yours?

Image: Painting by William Breakspeare