Top UK babies' names from the 1970s

A man holdig a baby in 1970 (image public domain)
Rank Girls' names Boys' names
1 Sarah (13) Paul (2)
2 Claire (55) Mark (4)
3 Nicola (27) David (1)
4 Emma (-) Andrew (3)
5 Lisa (54) Richard (10)
6 Joanne (22) Christopher (11)
7 Michelle (31) James (19)
8 Helen (8) Simon (13)
9 Samantha (-) Michael (6)
10 Karen (3) Matthew (52)

Source: 'First names - The definitive guide to popular names in England and Wales', by Emma Merray and published by HMSO in 1995. The information refers to the year 1974.

Fashions in girls' names changed in the 1970s. Out of the top ten names only Helen and Karen were in the top ten in 1964.

The top girls' name, Sarah, had been moving up steadily over the past three decades. It was 86 in 1944, 68 in 1954 and 13 in 1964. Sarah was also the most popular girls' first name chosen for births announced in The Times in both 1964 and 1974.

Boys' names were less volatile. Only four names were new to the top ten: Christopher, James, Simon and Michael. Both Christopher and James were in the top ten first names in The Times in 1964. Matthew was the biggest climber. It did not figure in the 1944 or 1954 top tens of all UK names. It was only 52 in 1964.

First names of children announced in The Times

As a comparison these are the top first names given to children which were published in The Times in 1974. The list was compiled by Margaret Brown. She took over the work of her friend, John Leaver, who sadly had passed away.

Rank Girls' names Boys' names
1 Sarah (1) James (1)
2 Lucy (-) Thomas (-)
3 Emma (4) Charles (-)
4 Katherine (-) Nicholas (10)
5 Sophie (-) Alexander (-)
6 Anna (-) William (-)
7 Emily (-) Edward (-)
8 Charlotte (-) Richard (2=)
9 Helen (-) Jonathan (6)
10 Victoria (-) Benjamin (-)

Source: 'Christian names in 1974', published in The Times 4 January 1975 page 13. Figures in brackets are where the name appears on the 1964 top ten compiled by John Leaver.

Both the boys' names and the girls' names have very little in common between the two lists. The girls' names common to both lists are: Sarah, Emma and Helen. Of the boys' names only James and Richard are on both lists.

There is a distinction between names chosen by most people and those chosen by the better off.

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history