04 July 2023
National Records of Scotland has revealed the most popular names given to babies born over the past eight decades - with 12 names staying in the top 100 for a whopping 88 years.
This is the first time National Records of Scotland has crunched the numbers for the most popular names given to babies born in Scotland in every year from 1935 to 2022
The results shed light on how Scotland’s tastes for names have changed over the years, where some of the influences have come from and how some names bounce back after a spell out of the charts.
The most popular baby names
Olivia was the most popular first forename for girls whose births were registered in 2022, whilst Noah topped the charts for boys.
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For the first time statisticians have looked back through all the names used since 1935 and charted the top 100 names in each year.
A dozen names have stayed in the top 100 for babies born in Scotland over the last 88 years and all of them are for boys.
These names are: Adam, Alexander, Daniel, David, James, Joseph, Matthew, Michael, Robert, Samuel, Thomas and William.
NRS Statistician Maria Kaye-Bardgett said: “These twelve names are long-term favourites that have stood the test of time, interestingly none of them are for girls.
“The only girls name that came close to this sustained popularity was Elizabeth which was in the top 100 every year except 2018 and 2021, perhaps reflecting the long reign of Elizabeth II.
"One name which has bounced back recently is Flora which returned to the top 100 after a 78 year absence. It was previously in the top 100 from 1935 to 1943. It’s return could be a result of the renewed interest in the Jacobite era with the hugely successful Outlander TV series including the character Flora Macdonald, famous in history for having helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after defeat at Culloden.”
The latest statistics also found some one-offs; names that made it into the top 100 for one year only. This category included the name Jan for boys in 1946. The vast majority of baby boys called Jan had a father who was in the Polish military.
Up to 200,000 Polish soldiers, sailors and airmen trained in Scotland between 1940 and 1947. Many Polish people were interned, imprisoned or conscripted during the war but thousands escaped and were sent to Scotland to train
Another one-off was Kylie in 1988, when there were 104 baby girls given the name in the year Kyle Minogue left the TV series Neighbours to launch her music career.
Top 100 names that came back into fashion
Arthur (left: 1970, returned: 2016)
Benjamin (left: 1942, returned: 1974)
Finlay (left: 1950, returned: 1998)
Hamish (left: 1965, returned: 1996)
Harry (left: 1962, returned: 1995)
Henry (left: 1975, returned: 2015)
Jack (left: 1959, returned: 1987)
Lewis (left: 1949, returned: 1979) Louis (left: 1940, returned: 1999)
Owen (left: 1952, returned: 1991)
Alexandra (left: 1966, returned: 1990)
Alice (left: 1964, returned: 1992)
Annie (left: 1962, returned: 2022)
Charlotte (left: 1948, returned: 1987)
Ellen (left: 1963, returned: 1996)
Elsie (left: 1946, returned: 2015)
Emily (left: 1941, returned: 1987)
Evelyn (left: 1969, returned: 2019)
Flora (left: 1944, returned: 2021) Florence (left: 1944, returned: 2016)
Grace (left: 1962, returned: 1999)
Hannah (left: 1943, returned: 1983)
Isabella (left: 1964, returned: 2006)
Katherine (left: 1952, returned: 1973)
Lily (left: 1943, returned: 2003)
Matilda (left: 1938, returned: 2014)
Rachel (left: 1950, returned: 1971)
Rebecca (left: 1941, returned: 1975)
Rose (left: 1963, returned: 2010)
Violet (left: 1952, returned: 2016)
You can track the popularity of names in Scotland here.
(data courtesy of National Records of Scotland, image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)