About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Daryl”

An individual cosplaying as “Daryl Dixon”, a popular character from the TV Series “The Walking Dead” (Photo by Marnie Joyce, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 10th column, he discusses the name “Daryl”.

‘The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” debuts on AMC this evening. This spinoff of “The Walking Dead” (2010-2022) finds popular character Daryl (played by Norman Reedus) stranded on a French beach without knowing how he got there. He’ll trek across France trying to find his way back home.

Daryl’s a respelling of Darel and Darrell, surnames brought to England in 1066 by knights from Airel, a town in Normandy whose name meant “open courtyard”.

Darrells were prominent among Tudor nobility. Elizabeth Darrell (1513-1556) was maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon. Sir Marmaduke Darrel (1559-1631) was a jailer of Mary Queen of Scots, and later escorted Anne of Denmark from Scotland to London when her husband James I succeeded to the throne.

Anglican clergyman John Darrell (1562-1603) made a name for himself as an exorcist. Though he claimed he proved Puritans could cast out devils as successfully as Catholics, he was imprisoned as a fraud.

The 1850 United States census found 99 persons with last name Darrell and 14 Darrels. There were 10 men with first name Darell and 12 Darrells.

Best-selling English novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon published “Darrell Markham” in 1853. There Darrell’s true love Millicent is forced to marry George Duke. When George is murdered, Darrell gathers evidence proving Millicent innocent. They marry on the last page.

In 1867 English judge Sir Douglas Straight (1844-1914) began publishing memoirs and fiction under pen name “Sidney Daryl”, one of the first examples of that spelling.

All spellings stayed rare until the 20th century. Darrell first shows up among the top 1000 boy’s names in 1891, Darrel in 1905, Daryl in 1920, and Darryl in 1932.

Daryl was occasionally given to girls by 1900. In 1921, silent film “Love, Hate and a Woman” featured heroine Daryl Sutherland (Grace Davison) pretending to be a society belle to catch a husband. However, Daryl only made it into the top thousand names for girls between 1945 and 1957. Surprisingly, the 1980s fame of actress Daryl Hannah (born 1960) didn’t popularize it.

Nebraska-born movie producer Darryl Zanuck (1902-1979) helped found 20th Century Fox in 1935. His name being featured in film credits, along with the 1940s fame of child star Darryl Hickman (born 1931) propelled their formerly rare spelling upward. After Hickman was featured on brother Dwayne’s “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” in 1959, Darryl became the most common spelling for seven years, peaking at 68th in 1965.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Clyde”

A timid orange ghost might be the most famous “Clyde” in video game history (Photo: Monsoleiiil, CC-BY-3.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 27th column, he discusses the name “Clyde”.

‘Clyde’s” making sandwiches at Omaha Community Playhouse through Sept. 17.

In Pulitzer Prize winning author Lynn Nottage’s play, Clyde runs a sandwich shop employing ex-cons who she belittles and abuses. The 2022 Broadway production earned “This is Us” actor Ron Cephas Jones, who died Aug. 19, an Emmy nomination.

Glasgow, Scotland, sits on the River Clyde, sacred to Celtic goddess Clota. It’s unclear if the river was named after the goddess or vice versa.

Clyde’s a rare Scottish surname indicating one’s ancestors lived by the river. In the 1850 United States census, 375 persons with the last name Clyde are found. Seven had Clyde as a first name — not surprising given the then-new custom of turning surnames into given names.

The first name Clyde didn’t stay rare: 7,179 men were named Clyde in 1880, while only 832 Americans had the surname.

Various factors may have contributed. In the 1850s, poem “Clyde” by John Wilson (1720-1789) was republished. Wilson celebrated a masculine river, writing “Clyde’s wide bed ten thousand torrents fill, His rage the murmuring mountain streams augment.”

In the 1850s Philadelphia-based Thomas Clyde (1812-1885) owned the Clyde Line, America’s biggest steamship company.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Nancy”

Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 13th column, he discusses the name “Nancy”.

Nancy’s leaving the small screen next week.

“Nancy Drew,” the third television series based on the classic young adult detective novels, ends its four-year run on the CW Aug. 23.

Nancy was originally derived from Agnes. In medieval England Agnes was pronounced “Annis,” with nickname “Ancy.” In some dialects, “mine” was used for “my”. “Mine Ancy” eventually became “my Nancy.” Nell developed from Ellen and Ned from Edward the same way.

Annis was often confused with Ann. Soon Anns as well as Agneses were called Nancy. When literacy increased after 1600 and the “g” in Agnes started being pronounced, Nancy switched to just being a nickname for Ann.

By 1800, many thought of Nancy as being a separate name. That’s shown in the 1850 United States census, where despite most entries not including middle names, 2,411 women were listed as “Nancy Ann.”

The total number of Nancys in 1850 was 263,261 — over 10 times as many as in Britain’s 1851 census, when total populations were similar.

After 1860, Nancy receded. In 1880, when Social Security’s yearly baby name lists start, it ranked 62nd. Its lowest year was 1909, at 118th.

Nancy’s big revival coincided with the fame of Nancy Astor (1879-1964). Virginia-born Nancy Langhorne married Waldorf, son of Viscount Astor, in 1906. He entered Parliament in 1909, but had to resign in 1919 when his father’s death made him Viscount. Nancy won election to his seat, becoming the first woman in Britain’s Parliament.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Tyrone”

Stage actor Tyrone Power (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 16th column, he discusses the name “Tyrone”.

Tyrone learns there’s more than one of him later this week.

“They Cloned Tyrone,” a science-fiction comedy spoofing 1970s “Blaxploitation” films, debuted June 14 at the American Black Film Festival. It premieres on Netflix July 21. John Boyega plays Tyrone Fontaine, a drug dealer fighting back after discovering he’s a clone created by a sinister government project.

Tyrone’s a county in Northern Ireland. It’s the English form of “Tir Eoghain (Eógan’s land),” bestowed by members of the O’Neill dynasty claiming descent from Eógan mac Néill when they conquered it in the 11th century.

In 1673, Charles II created Irish noble Richard Power (1630-1690) the 1st Earl of Tyrone. His cousins began naming sons “Tyrone,” pointing out their noble connection.

William Grattan Tyrone Power (1797-1841) was the only child of one such cousin, Tyrone Power of County Waterford. He became the actor and playwright Tyrone Power, known for bettering the image of the Irish in his roles. Power toured America four times.

Power’s great-grandson, director Tyrone Guthrie (1900-1971), founded Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater. Power’s grandson Tyrone Power Sr. (1869-1931) moved to America as a teenager and became a star of stage and screen. It was Sr.’s Cincinnati-born son Tyrone Power (1914-1958) who became the most famous, being a major star from first film “Lloyd’s of London” (1936) to his last, “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957).

In the 19th century Tyrone was rare outside the Power family. The first American Tyrone, Tyrone Landrum, was a free Black head of household in Derry, Pennsylvania, in 1800. Four of the 12 Tyrones in the 1870 census were his descendants.

The census often designated the Landrums as “mulatto.” Many Landrums in America had immigrated from County Tyrone, which may explain the name.

Fifty-three Americans had the given name Tyrone in 1930; 714 in 1940; and 4,283 in 1950, showing its popularity was caused by movie star Power. What’s remarkable is that already in 1950, 67% of these Tyrones were Black.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the name “Dylan”

Man singing and playing guitar on a crowded stage, drummer sitting beside him and audience on the floor in front of him.

Nobel laureate Bob Dylan singing in the Opinião night club in Brazil (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his July 2nd column, he discusses the name “Dylan”.

Did you watch Dylan help his team win the College World Series?

LSU outfielder Dylan Crews (born 2002) won the Golden Spikes Award for best amateur baseball player June 25, the day before the Tigers beat Florida to win 2023’s CWS. Last year Ole Miss pitcher Dylan DeLucia won the CWS Most Outstanding Player award leading his team to a CWS title in 2022. Today he pitches for the Cleveland Guardians.

Dylan’s a modern name with an ancient origin. The Mabinogion, Welsh legends compiled from oral traditions around 1175, tell of Dylan ail Don, who at his baptism plunges into the sea, swimming away like a fish. Experts think Dylan was originally a Welsh sea god whose name meant “toward the tide.”

There’s no evidence Dylan was a baby name in Wales before 1910, when Welsh nationalists discovered it. The first census example, Dylan Mostyn Wathen, born 1910, lived with widowed innkeeper mother Hannah in Ystradgynlais in 1911.

The Dylan who spread the name worldwide was born 1914 in Swansea to Jack Thomas and wife Florence. They were fluent Welsh speakers who knew Dylan’s first syllable was pronounced “dull” in Welsh. Florence, afraid of teasing, insisted “dill” be used when English was spoken.

About Names: Dr. Evans on “Amelia”

Several individuals standing around an airplane piloted by Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart, one of the more famous Amelias in recent history, about to take off as a crowd of onlookers admire her plane and watch the famous aviator take to the skies (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 18th column, he discusses the name “Amelia”.

Amelia became famous 95 years ago today.

Amelia Earhart, Kansas-born in 1897, was log keeper on a plane that landed in Wales on June 18, 1928, becoming first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Though Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon were pilot and co-pilot, the flight made Earhart famous. She was declared “Queen of the Air,” a title cemented when she piloted a solo cross-Atlantic flight in May 1932. Today she’s remembered for her mysterious disappearance over the Pacific July 2, 1937, while trying to circumnavigate the globe.

Amelia’s a variation of Amalia, a Latinized short form of German names like Amalburg and Amalgund. Germanic “amal” meant “vigorous.” Its use in names honored the Amali, a fifth-century dynasty leading Goths attacking the Roman empire.

Amelia was rare in England until the German Hanoverians inherited Britain’s throne in 1714. Princess Amelia (1711-1786), daughter of George II, loved riding and hunting. Amelia County, Virginia, and Amelia Island, Florida, were named for her. Her great-niece Princess Amelia (1783-1810) was the youngest and favorite daughter of George III.

Amelia rather than Amalia became the common English form through confusion with Emilia, which has a separate Latin origin. Both Princesses Amelia were nicknamed “Emily.”

Novelists further popularized the name. The heroine of Henry Fielding’s “Amelia” (1751) saves her husband from gambling debts. In William Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair” (1848), Amelia Sedley is the sweet naïve contrast to conniving seductive Becky Sharp.

The 1850 American census found 29,484 Amelias. In 1851, the British census included 32,243.

About Names: Dr. Evans on “Mario”

The Iconic Mario (Photo by ReffPixels, CC-BY-4.0)

The Iconic Mario (Photo by ReffPixels, CC-BY-4.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 9th column, he discusses the name “Mario”.

Have you seen plumber Mario save the Mushroom Kingdom and Princess Peach from evil King Bowser?

On April 5, the animated film “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” based on Nintendo’s “Mario” video games, premiered. Mario, created in 1981 by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto for “Donkey Kong,” is featured in 256 games, becoming the best-selling video game franchise ever.

Mario is the Italian and Spanish form of Marius, a Roman family name so ancient experts are unsure if it derives from the god Mars or from a Latin word meaning “male.”

Roman general Gaius Marius (157-86 B.C.), husband of Julius Caesar’s aunt, reformed the Roman army, defeated foes in Gaul and North Africa, and was elected consul of Rome a record seven times.

The general’s fame led Americans to name sons Marius during the early 19th century Classical Revival, when towns were named Rome and Athens and babies named Virgil and Minerva. In the 1850 United States census, 234 men named Marius are listed.

Marius was well-used in Scandinavia. In the 1900 census, 120 of the 1,047 Mariuses were born in Denmark, and 84 in Norway.

Marius was also used in Germany and France. The most famous fictional Marius, Marius Pontmercy in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel “Les Misérables,” fights for freedom on the Paris barricades and marries Jean Valjean’s adopted daughter, Cosette. Since Marius is even more egalitarian and compassionate in the beloved 1980 musical than in the novel, it’s surprising his name’s remained rare.

About Names: Dr. Evans on “Valerie”

Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (Photo: Public Domain)

Valerie Jarrett, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his April 23rd column, he discusses the name “Valerie”.

Remember Barbara, younger daughter on “One Day at a Time” (1975-1984)? Or Melanie, the middle-aged divorcee in “Hot in Cleveland” (2010-2015)?

Valerie Bertinelli, who played both of those sitcom characters, turns 63 today.

Valérie is the French form of Valeria, itself the feminine of Valerius, an ancient Roman family name from Latin “valere” (to be strong). The Valerius family had many famous members, including first century historian Valerius Maximus and second century Parthian War hero Valerius Maximianus.

St. Valeria of Milan was a first-century Italian martyr. More famous in France was completely legendary St. Valérie of Limoges, who was beheaded for being a Christian. She then miraculously carried her severed head to her bishop, St. Martial. Depictions of Valérie giving her head to Martial were frequent in medieval French art.

Valerie wasn’t a popular saint in medieval England. The name barely existed there until 19th century novelists used it for romantic characters. One of the first examples was “Valerie” (1848), the last book by bestselling English writer Frederick Marryat (1792-1848). French heroine Valerie escapes an abusive mother by becoming servant to a rich English lady, eventually marrying the Count de Chavannes.

American author Christian Reid (pen name of Frances Tiernan) published “Valerie Aylmer” in 1870. Valerie, a Louisiana-born belle of French descent, endures heartbreak when her beloved Maurice goes to Mexico to fight for Emperor Maximilian.

Like Reid’s heroine, many 19th century American Valeries had French connections. A third of the 210 Valeries in the 1880 census were born in either Louisiana or Canada.

About Names: Dr. Evans on “Miles”

Miles Davis at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague (Photo: Public Domain)

Miles Davis at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 4th column, he discusses the name “Miles”.

Miles is saving “Spider-People” across the multiverse.

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” the sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” premiered June 2. Shameik Moore voices Miles Morales, the teenager who replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Marvel Comics’ alternate “Ultimate Marvel” universe in 2011.

The origin of the name Miles is obscure. When the Normans conquered England in 1066, they brought along a name written “Milo” in Latin and “Mile” in English. Unlike most Norman names, it’s not Germanic, but possibly related to “milu” (“gracious”), a word found in Slavic names like Milan and Bogumil.

How did the “s” get added? Most likely, it’s from confusion with Latin “miles,” meaning “soldier.” Another possible influence is Mylas, a bishop of Susa in Persia martyred in 341. His Persian name meant “brave,” but Orthodox Christians call him St. Miles, also influenced by Latin.

Miles stayed rare until English cleric Myles Coverdale (1488-1569) published the first complete printed English Bible translation in 1535. Coverdale’s Psalms are still recited in Anglican churches. Puritans admired his stance against fancy clerical vestments. His fame helped Miles reach the top 50 in England between 1580 and 1660.

About Names: Dr. Evans on the Name “Darren”

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation (Photo: Public Domain)
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation (Photo: Public Domain)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his May 7th column, he discusses the name “Darren”.

Do you watch Ralphie ask The Old Man for an air rifle every December?

Darren McGavin (1922-2006), who starred as Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story” (1983), was born 101 years ago today.

Darren’s origin as a first name is hard to track down. In Ireland, Darren is a rare variant of surname Darragh, Gaelic for “like an oak; steadfast.” A few Irishmen surnamed Darren came to America, but it stayed very rare.

The last name Darrin is slightly more common. A Darrin family from upstate New York are descendants of Ephraim Darwin, born in Connecticut in 1646. Darwin’s an English surname, either from Old English Deorwine (“dear friend”) or the river Derwent (“oak forest stream”).

These rare names don’t seem to have inspired the first name. Instead, Zane Grey did by creating Daren Lane, hero of his 1922 novel “The Day of the Beast.”

Unlike most of Grey’s works, “Beast” isn’t a Western. Daren is a soldier returning from World War I who is disturbed by Jazz Age immorality. Perhaps Grey created “Daren” from “daring.” Daren’s often addressed as “Dare.”

Though modern readers find Daren prudish and prejudiced, fans named sons after him. Middle names were rarely recorded in the census, but 10 examples of combination “Daren Lane” are found from 1930 onwards, showing the book’s impact.

The first year, at least five Darens were born was 1932. Alternate spelling Darren followed in 1936. Both stayed rare. In 1949, 12 Darens and five Darrens were born.

At birth, Darren McGavin was William Richardson. He took up acting after being a Hollywood set painter. Around 1946, he moved to New York to further his career. McGavin never wrote memoirs, and no full biography has appeared, so why he chose “Darren McGavin” as his stage name is a mystery. He did this before July 7, 1950, when the census found him living in Manhattan.