Jack topples from his perch: Top Baby Names for 2009

Prince Jack has finally been toppled from his five-year perch atop the Number One baby name slot – replaced by King William, in a hark back to a Medieval past. According to the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Jack dropped from 665 listings in 2008 to 585 last year. 2005 was Jack’s most recent popularity peak, and before that was the 1920s.

Not since the 1910s has William been so popular, with a decided dip in the 1970s. It was the 1990s that the name began gaining strong favour. Of Germanic origin and meaning ‘will, helmet, protection’, William first became popular in the English language after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Its popularity has remained strong since the Middle Ages, and its Irish form – Liam – has also gained modern popularity.

Lachlan, Cooper, Joshua, Oliver, Riley and the perenniel Thomas remained in the top 10 with newcomer Ethan slipping in from eleventh place and outsider Noah leaping from thirteenth to take the number 8 spot.

For girls, Isabella took reign for 2009, ousting former front-runner Mia to fourth place. Chloe remained in second place followed closely by Charlotte, which leapt from seventh place to third. Charlotte was also popular in the early 1900s, and virtually lost all footing through the 1940s, right through the 80s. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the name returned to favour, with a 2005 peak.

Isabella, a Hebrew name which means ‘God is my oath’, followed a similar pattern to Charlotte – losing popularity from the 1940s until the 1990s where its popularity shot up overnight, levelling in 2005, then steadily rising through the past four years to take poll position.

In keeping with Australia’s affection for names of yore, Amelia entered the top 10 in 2009, bumping Ava out of the running. Amelia was popular at the turn of the 20th Century and began gaining popularity in the late 1960s, experiencing a steady rise through the 80s and a major leap between 2000 and 2004.

Olivia, Sophie, Emily and Ella remained solidly in Top 10 place along with modern fave Sienna, which was virtually unheard of in Australia until the mid 1980s and rapidly rose in 2005 from 77 born each year (2000-2004) to 341 born each year in 2005 (figures: NSW Government).

Following are the 2009 Top Ten Names list. Numbers in brackets indicate last year’s standing.


William (2)                        
Jack (1)                                
Lachlan (3)                        
Cooper (5)                         
Thomas (7)
Joshua (4)
Oliver (8)
Noah (13)
Riley (6)
Ethan (11)


Isabella (3)
Chloe (2)
Charlotte (7)
Mia (1)
Olivia (5)
Emily (4)
Ella (6)
Sienna (8)
Sophie (9)
Amelia (11)

If you’d like a fascinating picture of the history of names in NSW for the past century, head to the NSW Government website for a fantastic interactive graph that allows you to enter any name and see an instant outline of its popularity since the early 1900s.

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  1. says

    Getting your child’s name right can have implications on their career. In fact, studies show that daughters given more masculine-sounding names make more money and have greater chances of advancement. Something to think about!