Katie and Tim are expecting their second child, a brother or sister for their daughter Martha.
Katie writes: “We still love her name. We like that there are not many Marthas around and are looking for another slightly unusual name for number 2. I am wary of not choosing another old name though- I don't want my children to sound like a couple of old ladies!
Names we both like- Lola, Madeleine (Maddie), Ottelie, Orla, Oriana. Lola was our top choice before Martha was born but she really didn't suit it! We still really like it but I fear we might feel the same when this one is born so wonder whether we like it as much as we think we do!
Names Tim likes and I am less sure on - Darcy, Aberlene, Mia, Beaux and Belle
Names I like and Tim is less sure on - Polly and Nell
Names we have eliminated
Isabelle and Annabelle (because our surname ends with 'able' and we think sounds a bit much but we both really like Belle, maybe it's more of a middle name though)
Names we both like - Finlay, Stanley, Laurie, Lewis, Thomas and Arlo
Names Tim likes - David, Bill and Axel
Names I like- Oscar and Wilfred
Names we have eliminated
William (family name and we are trying to avoid these but we do like Billy which is why I quite like Wilfred instead)
Oliver (because [of] our surname [it is a] mouthful to say, otherwise this would be a top choice)
You have some really fantastic choices to go with already. Between the two of you, you have quite a broad range of names in terms of style, but one common link is that they are all well known, easily accessible names with history and pedigree.
My personal favourites from your list are Orla and Wilfred.
Years ago I volunteered at a nursery during the summer holidays and there I met the most adorable, cherubic sisters named Martha and Orla. I was struck by how well the two names complimented each other even though they are different in origin and era. They are both historic, uncommon yet familiar; sweet yet strong.
Wilfred is a nicely balanced name. It is familiar yet still uncommon, with old school credentials but sounds fresh and modern.
Penelope – Like Orla, I feel that Penelope compliments Martha well without being too matchy. It has a lot of stately elegance yet is fresh and familiar. Even better, you could use Lola or Polly as a nickname.
Thea – Meaning “goddess” in Greek, Thea is a sleek and fashionable short form of strong staples Dorothea and Theodora. Like Martha, it sits comfortably between the #60-#80 mark in popularity.
Pippa – Another fresh short form which is gaining new life of its own is Philippa’s bouncy diminutive Pippa. It works perfectly well on its own and is still well below the top 100.
Niamh – A short and sweet name with bags of history and a mythological heritage. Niamh is well known but not widely popular in use. Spelling shouldn’t be an issue given its wide exposure, but some English parents are turning to the anglicised spelling Neve.
Esme – A modern name with historic roots. It’s sweet and fresh yet sturdy enough to transition well into adulthood.
Eloise – Sitting just below the top 100, Eloise is an elegant French choice lifted from medieval romance. It has all the same grace and has enjoyed as illustrious a past as Martha, yet their different historic eras of popularity mean that the two together don’t feel “old ladyish.”
Aoife – With its beautiful meaning, Aoife has a sweet sound and bags of charm. It will need spelling out sometimes (though so would Madeleine, Darcy, Ottelie, Aberlene, Beaux, Finlay and Laurie for various reasons) but luckily it is becoming more widely known across Britain and more familiar.
Eliana – If Oriana is a favourite perhaps Eliana ticks the right boxes. It has an easy spelling and elegant sound.
Livia – Though Olivia is extremely popular, the older Roman name Livia is known – through people like Livia Firth and Livia’s Kitchen – but little used in comparison putting it perfectly in the ‘slightly unusual’ category.
Emmeline – A sweet Victorian name which is ladylike with backbone. Martha’s famous namesake St. Martha is not only known for being a kind hostess, she also has gone down in legend as a dragon slayer. Emmeline has the same dual character thanks to Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
Dulcie/Dolcie – Add up all the different spellings and Darcy is currently in the top 30. A similar but less common alternative Dulcie or Dolcie, both derived from the Latin dolcis “sweet.”
Gabriel – Even so popular at #1, Oliver is such a great, upstanding choice; it’s such a shame that it clashes with your surname. For me the best feels-like-Oliver-but-not-as-popular alternative is gentlemanly Gabriel, currently in Martha’s same #60-#80 sweet spot at #78.
Elliot – Another name which makes a great Oliver-alternative is stately Elliot, which is both historic and modern sounding at the same time.
Hugo – Also in the sweet spot at #70 is dignified and friendly Hugo.
Jude – At #65 is Jude, a name which like Martha has Biblical heritage but not obviously so, feeling more fashionably vintage-modern.
Dexter – Part dapper gentleman, part cheeky chappy, Dexter is below the top 50, easy to spell and not prolific.
Reuben – Like Martha, Reuben goes back to the Old Testament. Their roots are ancient making both feel sturdy and reliable and both are enjoying a modern revival.
Isaac – Similarly, Isaac is also a Biblical heritage choice undergoing a fresh revival.
Jasper – A suave heritage choice that sits just below the top 100. It has a homely, gentlemanly feel which is perfectly fashionable right now.
Dominic – A familiar choice that is now below the top 100. It has a dignified pedigree with an evergreen style that means it never feels out of fashion.
Lucas – A polished Roman choice which is now counted as a more modern spin on perennial Luke.
Caleb – Just into the top 100 is Caleb: a fashionable Biblical revival which is still uncommon.
I hope this has been of help. Best wishes name hunting. Please keep in touch!