The Victorian Era in England was defined by the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 until her death in 1901. For the better part of the 19th Century, the country was ruled by a Queen. “The King of Victorian Literature” Charles Dickens was the most popular novelist of the time and became one of the most-read English authors of all time. Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Bleak House captured the world’s imagination. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be suggesting names like Ebenezer, Fagin, Esther or Dorit. We just used Dickens as a jumping-off point for some of the most popular and beloved Victorian Era baby names. While things started out rather dire in the UK, they improved by the end of the century. Across the pond, in the US, the country was ensnared in a bloody civil war. People decided to take respite from the violence of the time by giving girls frilly or floral names. It was a thing! While you might think that many Victorian names sound old-fashioned, many of the names popularized at the time have become hip again. Without further ado, here are 30 Victorian Era baby names we think you’ll love and would be welcome on the pages of any Dickens or Brontë novel.
The name Silas comes from the Latin name Silvanus and both Silas and Silvanus are names used in the Bible. Commonly shortened to Sy or Si, the name has some flexibility. It means “forest” and for nature lovers who don’t want to seem too granola, the name is perfect.
Hypnotism, divination, and spiritualism were huge in the Victorian Era. Rosina Thompson was a famous medium back in the day in England and was popular for her trance “mediumship.” The name Rosina means “rose” and has Italian origins.
Prince Albert was Queen Victoria’s husband and was seen as very progressive at the time. He worked to abolish slavery around the world and also changed University Cambridge’s curricula to be more inclusive and modern. For parents who love science or art, you could do no better than choosing the name, Albert. The name comes from Old German Adalbert and means “noble” and “bright.”
We told you that the Victorian Era brought many flower-inspired names! Adelia refers to a genus of flowering plants. The name Adelia, however, comes from German and shares the same root as the name, Albert. Adelia Cleopatra Graves was a Victorian Era academic and poet in the US. Most people know her by her pen name, “Aunt Alice.” Her poetry and books appealed to children interested in learning new languages and different cultures.
The name Rufus really took off in the US in the Victorian Era but before that, the name was popularized by King William II who was called the name because of his red hair. The name is Roman/Latin and does indeed mean “red-headed.”
The names Gwendoline or Gwendolen only came into common use in the 19th Century. The name hails from Wales and means “fair” or “blessed.” Many people associate the name with the mythical queen of the Britons who spelled it Guendoloena. Welsh painter Gwendolen John preferred to go by “Gwen” was a Victorian Era painter who was overlooked at the time but art historians today consider a formidable portraitist.
In Latin, the word “miles” means soldier, and many knights through the Medieval era were also referred to as “miles.” The name Miles means “merciful soldier.” Miles has ticked up in popularity in the US after Chrissy Teigen gave her son the name.
Phoebe comes from Ancient Greek and means is the feminine form of Phoebus. The name means “bright.” Gilbert and Sullivan were all the rage in the Victorian Era creating classic comic operas like The Pirates of Penzance. In 1888, the duo released their 11th opera, The Yeomen of the Guard that featured the character, Phoebe Meryll.
Valentine is a unisex name that’s popular for both girls and boys now. During the Victorian Era, the name was more commonly given to baby boys. The name’s origin is Latin and means “strong.”
As you might have guessed, the name Constance means “constant” and it’s the name Connie came from. Constance Georgine Markievicz was an Irish woman who blazed a trail in the Victorian Era and would eventually become the first woman ever elected to the Westminster Parliament.
Felix is a popular name across Europe today and was way back in the Victorian Era. The name is Latin and means “lucky” or “happy.” Felix Mendelssohn was a world-renowned German composer in the early Victorian Era who gave us the melody to the Christmas carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
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Probably the name with the best meaning on this list, Sylvia is Latin and means “spirit of the wood.” At the end of the Victorian Era, Sylvia was the 137th most popular girl’s name in Britain.
Cecil is a popular English name that comes from Latin and means “blind.” This beautiful name belonged to Victorian British Imperialist Cecil Rhodes who mined across Africa. The African territory Rhodesia was named for him and the Rhodes Scholarship is a result of a fund started by his family.
We weren’t joking about the flowery names! Flora was one of the most popular names of the Victorian Era and means “flower.” A famous Victorian with the name was Flora Stevenson who became one of the first, if not, the first woman elected to a school board. She fought tirelessly for education to be expanded to the poor and also advocated for women’s inclusion in all school settings.
The name Bernard has a fantastic meaning, “brave bear.” The name comes from German and the French form and spelling became popular in English speaking regions. The name fell out of fashion by the end of the Victorian Era in the UK but became extremely popular in the mid 20th Century in the US.
The name Mercy means so many things to so many people and that’s why the name became popular in Victorian times. The name can mean “forgiveness,” “thanks,” or “blessing.” This is another name that fell out of fashion in the Victorian Era but became popular again. By the 1970s, the name was extremely popular in the US.
The funny-sounding name Eustace was very popular among Victorians and many gave their baby boys the name. The name means “fruitful” and belonged to everyone from saints to politicians. Lord Eustace Cecil was a British nobleman and politician who published Impressions of Life at home and abroad in 1865 which detailed his experiences traveling the world.
Violet is a name for girls that’s also shared with pretty purple flowers. Violet was one of the most popular names given to girls in the late Victorian Era. Born right at the end of the era in 1899, Violet Wood became a British supercentenarian who lived for 112 years. She spanned the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
The name Vincent is derived from Latin and means “conqueror.” Vincent is often shortened to “Vince” and it was a very popular nickname in the Victorian Era. Post-impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman and a failure during is life from 1853-1890. Although Victorian times were not too kind to him, later generations would go on to treasure his art.
Amelia comes from the Old German word “amal” which means “to work.” Amelia Bloomer was an American women’s rights advocate who operated during the time. Victorian fashion was brutal for women and entailed the wearing of corsets, skirts, and dresses. It was not acceptable for a woman to wear pants. “Bloomers” got their name from Amelia Bloomer’s tireless advocacy.
The name Simeon comes from Hebrew and means “obedient.” If Simon is a bit bland for your tastes take inspiration from the Victorian Era and choose the name Simeon for your baby boy.
Freda, Frida, Frieda, and Frinta are all different spellings of this popular name. The name is German and means “peace.” Freda Dudley Ward was an English socialite best known for being a married paramour of the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VIII. It was a poorly kept secret in aristocratic circles. Edward VIII’s father Edward VII became king after Queen Victoria’s death.
The name Nigel is a very English name that was popular in the Middle Ages. It fell out of fashion until the Victorian Era when antiquarians repopularized it. The name means “champion.” Nigel has never been as common in other countries but was among the 1,000 most common names for boys born in the United States from 1971 to 2010.
Selina is a Greek name that means “moon.” In Australia, there was a gold rush in 1850 that brought many new faces to the country. English culture, of course, played a huge role in Australian society at the time as it still does to this day. The name Selina took off in Australia after political activist Selina Siggins popularized the name by running for a spot in the Australian House of Representatives in the late Victorian Era.
Llywelyn is a Welsh name that’s spelled a few different ways. The name means “lion” or “leader” Many Victorians favored the old name over the newly used Lewis.
We could not talk about Victorian names without discussing the name that defined the era, Victoria. In Roman mythology, the goddess of victory was named Victoria. Before the current Queen, Victoria was the longest-ruling monarch to ever wear the British crown.
Duncan is the anglicized version of the Gaelic name Donnchadh. The name means “chief.” In the UK, a common nickname for a Duncan is Dun. This handsome name would be a great one for your little leader.
Olive is such a special name for a baby girl. This English name refers to an olive tree which is a symbol of peace and success. Olivia is a popular form of the name that has, since the Victorian Era, been the more popular of the two.
Please name your son Basil. It’s an incredible name that you don’t hear much anymore. Basil is a Greek name that means “king” and shares the same root as words like basilica and basilisk. Basil Mott was a cherished Basil in the Victorian Era. He was a civil engineer that helped extend the Central London Railway and was later became a Fellow of the Royal Society, which was a rare honor for engineers.
The name Cora comes from Greek and was Persephone’s maiden name. Hence, the name means “maiden.” As we mentioned, spiritualism, mediums, and seances were very common in the Victorian Era. Cora L. V. Scott was one of the best-known mediums of the late 19th Century. She was so popular, in fact, that she was invited to London to give a speed at Cleaveland Hall. Cora is a beautiful name that we wish would make a comeback.
We love these Victorian-inspired baby names and hope that you might consider one of them for your baby. From Albert to Victoria, many of these names carry a sense of romanticism that was celebrated at the time.