Double name

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A double name is a personal name with two given names such as George Bernard Shaw.

The signature of Alexander Graham Bell.

In England, it was unusual for a person to have more than one given name until the seventeenth century when Charles James Stuart — King Charles I — was baptised with two names. This was a French fashion which spread to the English aristocracy, following the royal example. The fashion then spread to the general population, becoming common by the end of the eighteenth century.[1]

Some double given names for women were used at the start of the eighteenth century but these were used together as a unit: Anna Maria, Mary Anne and Sarah Jane. These became stereotyped as the typical names of servants and so became unfashionable in the nineteenth century. In the Southern United States, there is still a common style of female double name. These typically have a hypocoristic form such as Peggy Sue and may include a male element such as Billie Jean.[1]


  1. ^ a b Coates, Richard (1992), "Onomastics", The Cambridge History of the English Language, 4, Cambridge University Press, pp. 346–347, ISBN 9780521264778 

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