Skip to main content



Christabel Pankhurst was the inspiration for today's post. Born in 1880 (the year the U.S. started keeping track of how many babies were born with a name per year) this suffragette from England helped found the Women's Social and Political Union, even while in exile. She was one very inspirational woman, from going to prison to support her beliefs, to writing a book on how sexual equality would help protect women from sexually transmitted diseases. She earned a law degree, but was unfortunately not allowed to practice. Her parents believed in causes and raised their children (Christabel, Sylvia and Adela) to do great things. Her mother Emmeline was a political activist and suffragette as well, helping women win the right to vote. Emmeline was named one of the "100 Most Important People of the 20th Century" by Time in 1999, and she as well was raised by politically active parents. Emmeline's husband, Christabel's father, supported women's right to vote. Richard also supported free speech, free secular education, and the disestablishment of the Church of England. He did two very important things for women's rights: he drafted the Women's Disabilities Removal Bill, and was author of what became the Married Women's Property Act.

Christabel was named after another, older famous Christabel, that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Christabel." It is said the direct influence for this name came from the line "The lovely lady Christabel / Whom her father loves so well." Criticism of the poem falls under many categories, one of which having a feminist reading to it, which could have been another reason why Emmeline thought it would make a good name for her daughter. However, it can also be read with a critical eye toward gothic literature, and the unfinished poem had a haunting undertone, especially since the poem was modeled off of Poe's "The Sleeper," which in turn inspired Poe to write something else. For those unfamiliar with gothic lit, here are the basics (because it's not what you think): innocent virgin lives in a scary place, old pervert wants the young beauty, scary stuff happens, virgin usually makes it out alive. In the poem, Christabel is an example of purity and innocence. The name was given to Coleridge's grand daughter, who also became an author.

Another famous Christabel (last name Burton Bielenburg) lived through World War II Nazi Germany, and another, Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott married King George V's son Prince Henry.

Like Christina and Christopher, the French name Christabel is a coinage combining "Christ" with the -bel suffix to mean "beautiful Christian," after the French form of Christopher, Christobal. It was not invented by Coleridge. Since reading as a child that Cristina meant "annointed," yet modern sources say "follower of Christ," a little more digging told me that Christ (Christos, Khristos, Cristo) means "annointed" from an ancient Greek word meaning "to rub with scented ointments/oils." Christos was not originally a Christian name. The variants used as given names came about long after Christ, with the intended meaning being "follower of the annointed one." Christabel can be spelled any number of ways, from Christobel to Christabelle.

For those seeking the famous "belle" name without having to worry about popularity, look no further. This rare name was only given to 20 baby girls in 2011, and has never ranked in the top 1000. There were 5 baby girls named Cristabella and 5 Christabella, 6 Cristabel and 7 Christabelle. There were 77 baby girls given one possible nickname, Christa.


  1. It was such a frilly name for such a strong woman. Although many see Emmeline Pankhurst as a feminist, Christabel wasn't always happy with her mother's stances. Christabel was more radical, and the mother and daughter relationship suffered because of it. If I remember right, a sticking point was that Christabel wanted to keep protesting for women's rights during WW1 but Emmeline wanted to support the country's war efforts and put women's issues to the side. Very interesting character with a lovely name.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Witchy Baby Girl Names!

Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse
Have a little girl due in October? Looking to name a character? Here's my [seemingly endless] list of witchy-sounding baby names. Most of them also fit in the "clunky but cool" category, or "vintage." Most plants, trees, herbs, spices, flowers, gems, space and nature names fit the bill, because in stories and current practice these things are useful to witches. I've put any actual witch names from legend, myth, literature, movies, etc in bold and up front. I have not considered the names of actual, living people or their Pagan names, and I've left out any characters that only have a surname, or truly ridiculous given names. In the second half you'll see a list of names that, to my knowledge, have not been used for witch characters. Please know that this is not a complete list. Wikipedia has an almost complete list you can view here.
Tabitha, Samantha, Endora, Clara, Serena (Bewitched)
Katrina(Katrina Crane, …


Alifair Hatfield
The baby name Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair, Alafair, or Alafare, has a very interesting history. This girl's name suddenly popped into existence in the U.S. around the mid 1800's, with no mention why or how.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere…


Ezra might sound like a female name, but it is actually a Hebrew boy's name meaning "helper." I believe it initially came from the name Azariah. Besides Ezra Pound, the famous poet, and Ezra Jack Keats, the children's lit author, the most well known Ezra is from the 5th century b.c. and wrote the Book of Ezra and two chronicles. He was a Jewish priest, copyist, scholar and historian who began compiling and cataloguing the Old Testament. He led a group of Israelites out of exile in Babylon. A little lesser known are Ezra Cornell and Ezra Taft Benson. I believe it has been getting more recent attention due to the character named Ezra on the TV show "Pretty Little Liars." This character, Ezra Fitz, bears a strong resemblance to Abercrombie & Fitch's Ezra Fitch. There is also the 90's band Better Than Ezra, and you might not remember them until you search for their song "Good" on YouTube.

There were 1,416 baby boys born in 2010 with the nam…