Baby Name of the Day: Camden

by appellationmountain on February 28, 2011

Camden Town

Image via Wikipedia

Cross Cameron with London and you’ll end up with this rapidly rising choice.

Thanks to Tracy for suggesting the only name her husband likes. Our Baby Name of the Day is Camden.

If Camden brings to mind only Camden, New Jersey, it probably seems an implausible pick for a child. I’m sure the city has its good points, but political scandal, crime, and economic woes have dominated Camden’s story in the national media for years.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Camden Town is a neighborhood in northwest London. This Camden has been home to everyone from Madness to Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens to Oasis. George Orwell and Dylan Thomas both lived there around the same time. The Camden Markets – there are half a dozen – draw tens of thousands of visitors every weekend, selling everything from music to mirrors. If this was the only Camden you knew, the name might very well be as viable an option as, well, London.

The original Camden takes its name from Charles Pratt, a politician and the first to wear the title Earl Camden in the 1700s. Pratt developed the area in the eighteenth century. His son, the second Earl, became Marquess Camden in 1812. Just a few years later, Regent’s Canal reached the area, and Camden Lock opened. You can watch Kate Winslet walk around the area in her commercial for American Express from a few years back.

Camden’s history as a surname reaches back even farther. It probably started out as Campden, from camp – enclosure – and denu – valley. You can still visit Chipping Camden in the Cotswolds, the site of a real-life murder mystery from the 1600s, a tale so fantastic it almost has to be true.

The question is why Camden caught on as a given name. Unlike many surname options, Camden was never in US Top 1000 until 1990. A few theories to explain his rise:

  • Cameron caught on in a big way, reaching #62 in 1990, and peaking at #31 in 2000. Other Cam- names have followed, and Cameron still stands at #59 for boys;
  • Of course, Cameron Diaz rocketed to fame in 1994’s The Mask, encouraging more parents to consider it for a daughter – and sending parents who liked Cameron for a son looking for other options;
  • The long-running WB series 7th Heaven featured the squeaky clean Camden family from 1996 into 2oo7;
  • In 1992, Camden Yards opened in Baltimore, home of the Baltimore Orioles. The ballpark stands on the former site of the B&O Railroad’s Camden Station rail yard and incorporates part of a former warehouse;
  • Caleb, Carter, Connor, Cole, Cooper, Carson, Colton, plus Caden and K-spellings of nearly every one of those names are also stylish;
  • Place names were on the rise during the era, as were two-syllable names that end-in-n.

Add it up, and Camden goes from being an unlikely choice to an obvious one. The UK connection gives it a certain gritty, alternative vibe, but the baseball connection is as red, white, and blue as you might wish. With the easy nickname Cam, it is easy to see why Camden went from unranked in 1989 to #194 in 2009. His only drawback is just that – he’s so stylish it is hard to say how high he’ll reach.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: