Henry is a classic boys’ name that is recovering from a mid-century lull. He’s lucky to be a member of the minuscule club of names that has never been out of the top 1000 since 1880, the year in which the SSA name popularity data begins. Still, he remained outside the top 100 between 1970 and 2005.
As of 2015, Henry ranks #29 nationally. If you live in Minnesota or Nebraska, he’s actually the #1 boys’ name, and he’s #2 in Washington D.C. and Oregon. And it isn’t just this side of the pond that’s experiencing a revival of the name. I fully expect Henry to enter the England & Wales top 10 within the next couple of years. 20 years ago, this name ranked #58 there, but in 2013 he entered the top 20 at #18 and in 2014 he ranked #15. Henry has also recently debuted in the Irish and Scottish charts. This name trendy all over the English-speaking world, and even Sweden apparently loves this name now (#56 in 2015, up from #76 in 2014).
For the longest time, Henry VIII has been the prime association for millions. He’s the English king who married six times and split from the Roman Catholic church (and started the Episcopal/Anglican church) to obtain a male heir. As the wife mnemonic goes: “Divorced, Executed, Died, Divorced, Executed, Survived.” Henry VIII has even inspired “disappearing wives” mugs where you pour a hot liquid in and their portraits fade to white (I have one – I’m a monarchy nerd). There’s also a great, very catchy pop song from the 60s by Herman’s Hermits called “I’m Henery the Eighth, I am” that’s actually about a guy who’s the eighth in a line of men named Henry to have married some widow. According to the song, “she wouldn’t have a Willie nor a Sam.” Also, I have indeed seen the TV series The Tudors starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers…historically inaccurate in so many ways, though who doesn’t enjoy that show and that Henry VIII portrayal?
Henry VIII aside, there were seven other English kings named Henry before him (including Henry V, who has his own Shakespeare play and a Kenneth Branagh movie!); not to mention, other kingdoms had their fair share of Henrys too. France had several named Henri, Castile had a number of rules named Enrique…This is a very royal name. Perhaps Henry‘s meaning, “home ruler,” makes this even more fitting.
Why is Henry becoming so popular again? I’m not sure, but I can think of a few possibilities:
- Prince Harry (he’s actually a Henry)
- Harry Potter. Okay, I know his name isn’t actually Henry. But a) Harry is commonly a nickname for Henry, b) Harry’s great-grandfather was named Henry Potter “Harry”, and c) Henry has become a much more popular name since the books and movies started coming out.
- Once Upon a Time, which is a popular ABC series which takes storybook/fairy tale/Disney/whatever characters and puts them into a modern day town in real-world Maine called “Storeybrook.” Henry is the name of a main character.
- Old names are generally trendy at the moment.
What do you think of the name Henry? And why do you think it’s becoming so popular again?
Sources for popularity data: