England

Baby names: Why are Leigh and Tracey unpopular?

Leigh Samuels Image copyright Leigh Samuels
Image caption Leigh Samuels named his daughter Aveigh by merging the initials of his favourite football team, Aston Villa, with his own name

As the most popular names for baby boys and girls are revealed, the BBC asked people with a name that's fallen out of favour why they think that is.

In the 1980s, hundreds of boys a year were called Leigh. In 2017, just three babies were given the name, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Leigh Samuels, 36, from Wolverhampton, believes it's too ordinary a name to excite the modern parent.

"It's a shame there aren't many babies being called Leigh as it's a good name. But I also think people go for more exotic names these days."

He said people would always say he had a girl's name or ask why it's spelled the way it is.

"My mum's maiden name was Lee so I think that was the connection."

Mr Samuels is clearly a fan of his now unfashionable name though.

His seven-year-old daughter Aveigh was named by merging the initials of his favourite football team, Aston Villa, with his own name.

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Image copyright Leigh Burton
Image caption Leigh Burton said children at school would say she was a boy because of her name

Leigh as a girl's name has never appeared in ONS data for the top 100 baby names, which it has compiled every 10 years from 1904.

In 2017 there were only three baby girls with this name and this comes as no surprise to Leigh Burton, 30, from Nottingham.

"At school I'd get all the 'you've got a boy's name, you must be a boy' jokes which were never funny - in fact I occasionally still get them now.

"But I like it that it's an unusual name."

Image copyright Lindsey Willars
Image caption Lindsey Willars said she was named after singer songwriter Lynsey de Paul

Lindsey, Lindsay, Lyndsey and Lynsey were all in the top 100 names given to baby girls in 1984, coming it at 79th, 81st, 94th and 96th places respectively.

By 2017 Lindsey dropped to 4,063rd place in popularity, with just five girls registered with that name, and there were no Lindsays, Lyndseys or Lynseys to be found.

Lindsey Willars, 43, from Leicester, said she was named after the singer songwriter Lynsey de Paul.

"I do think celebrities have a big influence on what people name their babies and I can't think of any famous Lindseys around at the moment," she said.

"I suppose the many different spellings could put people off - there's always confusion when you meet people through work and email.

"But then I think people seem relaxed creating their own spellings these days - I've seen it spelled Linzi and I doubt they were christened like that."

Image copyright Tracey Overs
Image caption Tracey Overs thinks her first name carries a stigma from undesirable characters in popular culture

Tracey and Tracy were popular names for girls in the 1960s, but had almost disappeared by 2017.

In 1964 Tracey was the sixth most popular name, with Tracy close behind in 11th place.

By 1984 Tracy was no longer in the top 100 and Tracey had fallen to 75th.

In 2017, however, Tracey had disappeared from the list of girls' names entirely, while 10 were named Tracy - landing it in 2,502nd.

Tracey Overs, 51, from Kiddington in Oxfordshire, said there was a stigma attached to her name.

"It comes from the Fat Slags in Viz magazine who were called Sandra and Tracey and then you've got Sharon and Tracey in Birds of a Feather," she said.

"So it was seen as a little bit common. I'm not surprised there haven't been any Traceys born.

"Whenever I meet another one I say 'oh you must have been born in the 60s or 70s' as that's when it was really popular. There were three in my class.

"I didn't like it as a teenager but I actually like it now."

Image copyright Clive Tricker
Image caption Clive Tricker was named after Clive of India because his grandfather was stationed in that country when he was in the Army

The name Clive was 44th most popular choice for boys in 1954 but dropped to 58th place in 1964, and has not been in the top 100 since.

Clive Tricker, 70, from Kesgrave in Suffolk, said the cultural references associated with his name were no longer current.

"My mother named me Clive because my grandfather served in India - and it also means man who lives by the cliff," he said.

"I don't really mind too much if it dies out because the less of us there are the more unique we are.

"If it completely died out it would be a shame. I self-indulgently gave my son Clive as his middle name."

Image copyright Graham Walker
Image caption Graham Walker, 31, says no-one else at his school shared his name

The name Graham was the 92nd most popular name for boys in 1924, peaking at 19th place in 1954.

By 1994 it had dropped off the top 100 table completely, and has not managed to climb back in.

Graham Walker, 31, from Wimbledon, said he believed names came in waves of generations.

"I'm shocked. I recently moved house and a guy two doors down is also a Graham - he's double my age.

"I was the only Graham at school and it's good to have a more exclusive name.

"If I were to have a child I would give it a name off the unpopular list because you grow up with a bit more individuality.

"Sometimes people name their children after their grandparents so we've only got another 50 years to wait until Graham makes a comeback."

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