Surnames that still sound like surnames
Have you ever met a child named Connolly? How about Barker, or Janson? Most likely not, but if you did I doubt you'd bat an eyelash. So many surnames of the British Isles are used as baby names right now that those fit right in.
That's good news for parents who want to "fit right in." What if that's not your goal? What if you chose Barker because it's your family surname and you want it to sound like a surname, darn it, not like some trendy spinoff of Parker? Or maybe you just miss the buttoned-down prep school style that used to come along with surname-names. When names like Chandler and Dalton have gone mainstream, where's a stuffed shirt afficionado to turn?
Here's one clue. Since quarterback Peyton Manning's first college game, the popularity of the name Peyton -- a traditional surname -- has soared. You can see spikes in the name at notable moments in Manning's career, like a record-setting season and a Super Bowl victory. But...why Peyton? Why not Manning? Manning has plenty of history as a first name, and it gets a double dose of publicity because Peyton's brother Eli is also a championship quarterback.
What Peyton has (and Manning lacks) is an ending from the golden trinity: -n, -r and -y. Today, the vast majority of surname-names cling to those three fashionable sounds. If you're willing to move beyond them, you can still find plenty of names with unadulterated surname style.
Names ending in -ing like Manning are one neglected group. A reader recently wrote to me about a sterling example (no, not Sterling): Fielding. It still has the power to surprise, doesn't it? It may be another British isle surname, but it won't get lost in a sea of Parkers and Peytons.
The -s surnames, particularly patronymic names, are another good target for old-time surname sound. A century ago many names like Evans, Hughes, Hayes and Clemens hit the top 1000, but today Brooks and Davis are the only survivors of the style. That leaves the -s names impeccably buttoned-down.
Put the two styles together and the effect is magnified. A name like Jennings or Hastings practically comes with its own bow tie.
This isn't for everyone, of course. Some people will find the ultra-surnames a little forced, even pretentious. Others will assume that these old-fashioned names were chosen the old-fashioned way, and ask about the importance of the name Fielding or Hayes in your family tree. But if you want pure surname style undiluted by the Peyton generation, try these: