More parents are giving their children middle names than ever before, with their use more than doubling in a century.
Eighty per cent of children are now given a middle name, compared with the 37 per cent revealed in an audit of the 1911 census. Eleven per cent of children have at least two.
The main reason for the trend is the commemoration of a family member, and most are traditional. James, John and William are the most popular for boys, and Louise, Rose and Grace top the girls’ list, according to research by the Ancestry.co.uk website.
Some 55 per cent are selected to remember a loved family member, while 15 per cent have run in the family for generations.
Miriam Silverman, of Ancestry.co.uk, said: ‘Middle names are a relatively new phenomenon, having only become the norm over the last 100 years, driven by the desire to commemorate ancestors.
‘This will have become particularly prominent following the two world wars. These affected the entire country and resulted in millions of Britons commemorating lost loved-ones as babies were born following the conflicts
‘As a result, middle names are less likely to follow popular culture and more likely to reflect age-old traditions or names that were popular in our parents’ or grandparents’ generation – hence the very traditional make-up of today’s top middle names.’
While most second names are commemorative, a small number of parents do opt to be more creative, with a significant minority (seven per cent) purposefully selecting more ‘colourful’ second names or taking inspiration from television, film, music or modern culture by having their middle name taken from a celebrity, fictional character or royalty (five per cent).
When it comes to selecting the middle name, the father is twice as likely to have a say with the middle name than the first name (14 per cent compared to eight per cent), although both are most commonly chosen equally.