American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Medieval Names


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

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:

  1. Prince Harry (he’s actually a Henry)
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

8 thoughts on “Henry

  1. I LOVE THAT YOU MENTIONED THE HERMAN’S HERMITS SONG! It’s one of my favourites, haha. I’ve always loved the name Henry. It’s such a classic, solid name. I think it’s popular because it’s old fashioned but it’s not frilly or ornate. I also love that it’s appropriate at any age—not one of those names babies must grow into, or those names that are cute for a baby but sound odd on an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That song is one of my favorites too…and so easy to memorize! 😀 A few years ago I asked my professor in my Tudor/Stuart England class if singing it before the class would land me extra credit, and she said I could sing it but no E.C. 😦

      ‘Solid’ is a very good descriptor. I’d also describe Henry as ‘handsome’…not ‘hot,’ but ‘handsome’ and ‘mature.’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, I’d have given you extra credit for that (maybe that’s why I am not a professor…) Side note: I am 99.99% sure that “The widow next door” is a serial killer.

        I agree completely. Definitely a handsome name.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Another possibility is that she loved the first Henry who died accidentally or suddenly, driving her to insanity…so she thenceforth collects each Henry she meets, and since she’s old-fashioned she assassinates each new Henry so she can take up with the next. Meanwhile, she never fills the void of Henry I’s loss, despite the constant flirting by Willie and Sam.

        I am having wayyyyy too much fun with this. XD

        Liked by 1 person

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