Georgiana is a gorgeous 18th-century name that just experienced a relatively huge jump in popularity. In 2015 there were 117 American baby girls given this name, up from 79 in 2014 and 76 in 2013. Usually pronounced like “Georgie-Anna” or even “Jor-Jayna,” this name derives from George, which means “farmer.” However, throughout much of the 20th and all of the 21st century, Georgia has been the preferred feminine form. Georgiana does have a history in the American top 1000, but hasn’t appeared since the 1950s.
The name Georgiana is usually associated with Georgiana Darcy, the younger sister of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. At the point of her appearance, she is a lovely 16-year-old heiress and an excellent pianist who had narrowly escaped elopement with the dastardly Mr. Wickham just a year prior.
Of course, the character of Miss Darcy is not the only Georgiana from the reign of King George III. Georgiana Cavendish, née Spencer (1757-1806), was Duchess of Devonshire through her marriage. She’s a fascinating individual. The duchess bore an illegitimate child with Charles Grey, who eventually became Prime Minister and the namesake of Earl Grey tea (obviously that second attribute is more important). She had a considerable influence in British politics, during a time long before women’s suffrage…I’ve even seen political cartoons concerning her. The duchess was also known for being a serious fashionista. There’s a decent Keira Knightley movie about her called The Duchess.
As to the sudden popularity increase between 2014 and 2015, I believe it is attributable to Death Comes to Pemberley. A few years ago, P.D. James wrote a popular murder mystery in the form of Pride and Prejudice fanfiction. Late in 2013, BBC released a DCtP miniseries, but it doesn’t appear that an American release happened until October and November of 2014. That time frame probably helps to explain why there were so many more babies named Georgiana in 2015; although the event occurred in 2014, it happened late enough in the year so as to affect the next year’s naming trends more than the 2014 trends. We’re likely going through the same phenomenon for Star Wars Episode VII, but of course we won’t know for sure until the SSA releases the 2015 data next May. Either way, this Austenian murder mystery seems to have had a few other minor effects on American baby naming. Since the novel was published in 2011, we’ve seen both Fitzwilliam and Pemberley pop up in the SSA extended data. That has to count for something, yes?
What do you think of the name Georgiana? Do you think she’ll keep rising, or was this spike a one-time deal?