Monday, September 23, 2013

The Fitzes

I am currently catching up on the show Scandal, which takes place in the US Capital and involves the highest political figures of the land. The fictitious president has one of the best character names I've ever heard: Fitzgerald Thomas Grant. He is called Fitz by those close to him, and I can't help but be drawn to it, especially since there are so many names that could lead to the nickname. Let's take a look at the Fitzes!

Image is the coat of arms of the Fitzgeralds of Kildare via Wikipedia

Fitz is the Anglo-Norman version of -son and means "son of." It eventually was used by the British family as a surname of the illegitimate children of kings and princes. Fitz is also a standalone surname of German origin.

There are a few Fitz names that are or have been used in the United States. In 2012, only Fitzgerald (12) and Fitzpatrick (7) were given to boys. Since 1880, the only other Fitz names given to 5 or more boys in any given year in the United States were Fitzhugh and Fitzroy. Fitz itself also has a history of use.

Fitzgerald first showed up on the SSA database in 1919, but was only used sporadically in the years after. It's popularity jumped in 1961 (from 5 boys in 1955 to a sudden 24 boys in 1961) and a steady stream of boys have been given the name each year ever since, never going below 7. We can definitely credit this respectful consideration to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who took over the US presidency in 1961. Fitzgerald as a given name reached its peak in 1964, the year after Kennedy was assassinated. 125 boys were given the name in that year, after 52 were given the name in 1963 and before 58 were given the name in 1965. Thanks to JFK, whose middle name was his mother's maiden name, Fitzgerald is definitely the most popular Fitz name ever given in the United States.

Fitzhugh is next popular historically, with a peak year of 1898 when 28 boys were given the name. It also had a pretty steady time of use (given to 10 or more boys) from 1917 to 1932. After being given to 7 boys in 1967, it has no recorded use until 2002 when it was given to 5 boys and hasn't been recorded since.

Fitzroy was first recorded in 1964 with 5 boys given the name in that year. It peaked in 1989 with 15.

Fitzpatrick has only been given to around 31 boys all together since it's first recorded use in 1970.

And Fitz on its own has been given to 5 or more boys in a year only occasionally from 1914 through 2011, reaching its peak in 1923 when 8 boys were given the name.

Unlike its -son cousins, there have been no Fitz names given to girls. It is decidedly masculine.

The name I am shocked has not been recorded in the SSA database is Fitzwilliam. Every Jane Austen fan knows and loves the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy, but I guess parents are more apt to honor the character by using Darcy or shortening the first name to William. I wonder about its popularity in the UK though.

Other Fitzes I have come across in my research:

Do you have a favorite Fitz name? Would you consider using any of them, or just Fitz?

Thanks to Nancy's Baby Names for numbers help.


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