Hadrian (HAY-dree-an) is a Latin name meaning "from Hadria," Anglicized from Hadrianus. Hadria was an ancient northern Italian city built by the Etruscans, which gave its name to the Adriatic Sea. The town is now known as Adria (Atria, Atri) in the Veneto region of Italy. Both the male variant Adrian and the female variants Adria, Adriana and Adrienne come from Hadrianus. Hadria can also be used as a given name. It seems the H was dropped from Hadrian around the Middle Ages. Following the etymology of Atria, it seems to mean "black, dark." There is a possibility this was given as a first name specifically to those with dark features.
One of the first namesakes was the Roman Emperor Hadrianus from the 2nd century AD, who was known for his writing and architecture. He built Hadrian's Wall across the north of England, which protected the Roman Empire. The city of Adrianople/Adrianopolis/Hadrianopolis was named for him, and it still survives under the name Edirne, in modern Turkey. His wife, Vibia Sabina, was also a strong person. An exhibit was on display for Emperor Hadrian at the British Museum in 2008. You can still watch the video clip right here. Overall, he was a very inspirational leader, if not with a few quirks. If his name isn't enough to sway you, there is also St. Hadrian, and Hadrian Saravia, who was charged by King James I of England to work on the King James Bible. Most recently, it was chosen by French food & TV personality Julie Andrieu for her son, spelled Hadrien.
While Adrian lacks a good nickname, Hadrian has the unusual, simple and charming Hade (hayd). Hadrian could also be a solution for anyone that likes Hayden (currently the #3 boys name starting with H) but cannot use it. While Adrian ranked at #61 in 2011, there were only 34 baby boys named Hadrian, never hitting the top 1000. By 2015 it only rose to 29 boys given the name. It has been gaining in popularity in France. Adrian is currently very popular in many countries, and has ultimately been more popular overall.