This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baby Girl, Sister to Henry and Juliet

G. writes:
I have been following your blog and love your suggestions.  I am hoping you might be able to help us. 
In 3 weeks, we are expecting our third child, a girl.  We are having a terrible time with her name.  Our first two are Henry and Juliet.  Both middle names honor family. For this baby, both my husband and I would like to include some version of the name Fran as a tribute to my late grandmother.  Her full name was Francella, and we are open to using any form of Fran - examples include Francine, Frances, Francie, etc.  I do love the nickname Frannie as well.  In addition, I am open to this being a first or a middle name.  My husband does not like Francesca though.
Additional names that we have narrowed down so far include:
  • Mary - this was her name for several months but then I started to second guess when my husband mentioned that the middle name Frances has a very old catholic ring to it
  • Ruth - my husbands favorite though I am not too sure about
  • June - I love this name though I fear it is too close to Juliet
  • Elizabeth - another top favorite but I fear it may be too high on the charts - I like the full name only...and I wonder how often the full name "Elizabeth" is actually used verses one of the nicknames.
I am not a huge fan of names starting with the letter "A".  If this baby was a boy, James, George or Louis would be the front runners.  Unfortunately, one of my friends named her daughter Louisa so I wouldn't feel comfortable picking that name.  We have considered Jamey for a girl. Georgia / Georgianna isn't a favorite though.
My intuition is telling me based on her movements that this baby is going to have some spunk.  I would love a name that is fresh and youthful but will age well with her - and I fear our list doesn't quite capture that...would love input / suggestions as we are quickly closing in on delivery.
Thank you!

I suggest Frances Ella.

I also encourage you to reconsider Mary. There was a Mary in my son's class a few years ago, and I was startled by how fresh the name seemed. Mary Frances does have a bit of a Catholic schoolgirl sound to it, but to me it's a very appealing sound. A Mary Frances could be a two-shoes or a sassy-boots or both, and I can picture getting quite a bit of happiness out of calling her both names together. I really love it, and I think with so many biblical/religious names going mainstream, it will work beautifully.  Plus, it sounds like this was the name you really wanted.

For something with a similar sound but less Catholic, Mary Ruth would be great as a double first name. Mary Ruth Frances.

Or Mary Francella would hardly sound Catholic at all.

It's certainly quite common for an Elizabeth to go by Elizabeth right now, though I too wish we could know HOW common; despite the reported popularity, I've only encountered two Elizabeths in the school system so far (and none going by Liz, Beth, Libby, etc.), so that's not much of a sample. One way to make sure it's never nicknamed is to use it as the middle name. Frances Elizabeth.

Or one of my current favorites is Eliza. It's less common than Elizabeth, and less often nicknamed.  And it's just FULL of sass. Eliza Frances. I would like to have that name for myself. Or Eliza Francella is perhaps even prettier.

If you like Louisa but a friend's daughter has the name already, I suggest Eloise. I think it's wonderful with Henry and Juliet, and it works well with the middle name Frances or Francella.


Martha said...

I love all Swistle's suggestions, but I do agree with the question asker's husband that Mary Frances sounds quite Catholic, like a nun's name that she chose when she took her vows. Eloise and Juliet are so adorable as sister names, that is probably my favorite! Our Archer would have been an Eloise if he was a girl.

Rachel said...

I had a 2 year old student whose given name was Frances, but her parents called her Frankie. She was such a cute sassypants that I will love that name/nickname forever.

I think Frances (Frankie) Elizabeth has a great ring to it!

Anonymous said...

I do like Mary Frances and I agree it does sound very Catholic-but only if you regularly call her by both names.
Ruth seems a little plain to be next to Juliet. Would you like Ruby? Similar starting sound, but with a bit more spunk.
I do like June, but agree it's a little too close to use with Juliet.
I love the name Elizabeth and I don't think you'd need to use a nickname. I know a lot of kids with longer names who don't use any nicknames at all (William, Nathaniel, Thomas, Robert, Victoria, etc). She may pick a nickname when she gets older, but that's the case with any name really.
I like Swistle's suggestions of Eliza & Eloise, I particularly love the idea of Eliza Frances.
Lucy is another spunky name that sounds a bit like Louise. I think it would work well with Juliet and Henry. Lucy Frances.
Oh-and of all the Fran options, Frances is by far my favorite.

Michelle said...

I would use the original Francella and pair it with Marie. I think Francella Marie is just lovely- it has a nice cadence and the same fanciful sound as Juliet.

Mary said...

The only Mary Frances I know is a rebel. Very sassy! and no its not me! Lol. Maybe the name Mary in general is reading Catholic to your husband? That's something to explore. But it's an unexpected name these days. Mary Francella sounds great too. Elizabeth Francine. With such classic names as your other children I wouldn't worry about popularity for Elizabeth. Or Frances June is very pretty.

Mary Frances said...

I am a Mary Frances, and I beg you not to name your child Mary Frances AND call her by both of those names (or really, call her by any double name). I find that having a double name is onerous for me and others: from the time I started kindergarten to the present, I always get, "And where is Mary?" to which I have to respond, "Actually, it's Mary Frances..." And when I sign my name Mary Frances [Last Name] to people I don't know, they often write back to "Mary" because they obviously think I'm just weirdly signing my full name.

I also get the Catholic question a lot (I'm actually not Catholic - the double name is a Southern thing). The final strike against Mary Frances is that the initials are M.F. (something which I didn't realize until I went to college, and people started calling me, well, you know...).

My 15 month-old daughter's named Ella (a family name), and I would caution against it, simply because there are so many -a names in her class (Ella, Emma, Ava, Anna, etc.).

I love Eloise, and think it sounds lovely with Henry and Juliet.

Whatever you choose, congratulations!!!

StephLove said...

My first instinct was to go for Mary Francella because you were set on Mary and only wavered because of the middle.

Eloise, though, is such a great sibling name for Juliet, it makes me want to come up with another one. Maybe another Shakespearean name? Beatrice, Biana, Cordelia, Imogen, Phoebe, Portia, Rosalind? I think I'd use Frances and/or Francella with any of those.

Anonymous said...

I definitely get an instant nun-vibe from Mary Frances, and I have no Catholic connections myself. If she were only called Mary, though, I think it's darling and pairs nicely with the siblings.

I love Eloise, and also wanted to suggest Elise. Henry, Juliet and Elise. Very nice.

Alex said...

I, being a biology student, would avoid Frances Ella like the plague, especially if you think you might use both names together, even occasionally.

This is because there is a rather nasty disease called tularemia (I'm not sure how many non-biology students are familiar with this disease) which is caused by a bacteria called Francisella, pronounced exactly the same way as Frances Ella.

I know that this may not be a problem for many people, but to me it was immediately obvious (although I am only a first year bio-student) and I felt I had to mention it.

Oh, and I know many people may be reading this thinking 'pah, that doesn't matter' but Francisella was developed as a biological warfare agent in the US in the 60s, which does rather add to the unpleasantness of the association, and may make it more familiar than it might have otherwise been.

Vivian said...

Can I suggest Marie instead of Mary? Henry, Juliet & Marie are so perfect together it kills me. Marie Francella would be beautiful, as would Marie Franca, Marie France, Marie Frances.

Also love the suggestion of Frances Ella (especially if her nn could be the spunky Frankie!)

xo Viv

Madelyn said...

I second the suggestion of Marie. I think Marie is lovely, but I do worry about the initials MF.

I'm not a huge fan of Ruth, since I do not really see it as a name that goes with the sibset Juliet and Henry.

I think Swistle's suggestion of Eloise is pretty perfect. It sounds great with Henry and Juliet, and it sounds lovely with Frances.

Here are some other suggestions:


Suzanne said...

I love Mary with your other kids' names. It is so classic and perfect with the other two. Mary Frances has a 50s sound to it, but I dont think it is a nun sound and I am Catholic.

Amy said...

I am also a scientist and noticed the tularemia (Francisella tularensis) connection immediately when I saw Frances Ella. Don't give your child the name of a bacteria.

Anandi Raman Creath said...

Lol @ "don't give your child the name of a bacteria" :) I'm also a biologist but hadn't heard of tularemia.

I LOVE the same Frances, though. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Also love Eloise.

Anonymous said...

I am not a biologist, but the previous posts made me curious so I Googled Francis Ella. Even with the space between first/middle, all the hits I got were in regards to the bacteria. Normally, I would say it sounds like something only a certain, small, subset of people would see. However, people Google themselves & their friends all the time so it's bound to come up. Seems like an association a young girl would not want to have. The tease potential would be pretty high.

Swistle said...

While I agree that Frances Ella may be off the list if it's the name of a bacteria, I think the playground teasing element is not the reason for ruling it out. Even if the child went by both names, the other children are hugely unlikely to know the names of bacteria.

If the extended family of a woman whose first name was Francella has never heard of this bacteria, my guess is that it's not much of an issue. I would be glad to have thought of it ahead of time, but would still use it.

Patricia said...

Jane Francella! Jane is spunky and classic and goes perfectly with Henry and Juliet. Jane would be a darling name with your sibling group: big brother Henry and sisters Juliet and Jane.

Henry, Juliet and Jane -- great names together!

Anonymous said...

I love Swistle's suggestion of Eliza Frances - it fits so well with Juliet and Henry but has that spunky, energetic angle that you mentioned!

I also thought I might point out the loveliness of Katherine - it fits stylistically with your other children's names and I could see it with one of the Francella variants. (Katherine Frances? Katherine Francella?)

Another possibility: Eleanor. Again, I think it fits stylistically and it has the "el" element from Francella - not sure if that would sufficiently honour Francella. If not, Eleanor Frances?


Nedra said...

I don't even like the name Mary, but the suggestion of Mary Frances is adorable! I can picture it on any age and I think it's really cute and fun!

EP said...

I too thought of Marie in place of Mary, since my mother's name is Frances Marie. Maybe that would work for you? It's not nearly as Catholic-nun sounding as Mary Frances and also does not have the MF initials. My mom typically goes by Fran but close friends and family call her Frannie, which I have always thought was cute. I also love the suggestion of Frankie, and I like Francie too.

Jen said...

I was going to suggest Marie and Elise but others have already done so. I also think with Marie, it is so fresh in the first name spot because it's such a common middle name. Jane is also a great suggestion. I really like Jane with Henry and Juliet.

Anonymous said...

The first thing that popped into my mind and I've been trying to rid myself of it is hollering for "Frannie June". Seriously, Im not even making any more suggestions bc I cannot rid myself of the cute factor thought.

Jess said...

I feel compelled to add that Mary Frances was the full name of the main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She went by Francie and didn't even know that Mary was her first name until she was 10 or so, but there is a whole scene in the book about how she finds out so it has stuck with me. This isn't a bad thing... Francie Nolan is an awesome character and I actually think it's kind of cool to have a name that references her... plus most people probably wouldn't even realize the connection... but it is one of the first things I thought of when I saw the name. If anything, that would make me even more inclined to use it.

Lindsey said...

My daughter is Louisa, so I vote for Eloise! I love the sound and I think it's great paired with Henry and Juliet.

Jan said...

Instead of Mary how about Margot? Other suggestions: Claire/Clara, Daphne. I do like some form of Fran for a first name.

Carolyn said...

Francella is so spunky and cute, I say no need to change it! Jane Francella is soo cute--love the above commenter's suggestion.

Mary Francella would be perfect too, and would take away the Mary Frances issue.