Baby Name of the Day: Annora

Wenceslas Hollar - Holme Pierrepont

Image via Wikipedia

She’s a medieval rarity that would be right at home in today’s Top 100.

Thanks to Christina for suggesting Annora as our Baby Name of the Day.

Between the seventh and thirteenth centuries, a quartet of popes used the name Honorius.  There were also two saints, a Roman emperor, and possibly a medieval magician, too.

Honorius shares his roots with the Latin honorem, the source of our word honor.  Variant Annora surfaces in the Middle Ages:

  • Annora of Saint-Valéry married Robert III of Dreux in the 1100s.  Her name is also given as Aenor, which links the name to Eleanor and suggests that more that one name might’ve contributed to Annora;
  • Maud de Braose, Lady of La Haie and an heiress in her own right, married a powerful baron and defended their lands.  She also incurred the wrath of King John and paid with her life.  Among her sixteen children were daughters called Flandrina, Loretta, and Annora, who entered religious life;
  • In the thirteenth century the Scottish Earl of Buchan gave the name to his fifth daughter and youngest child, though the girls’ names are listed inconsistently.  Elizabeth is also Elizabetha, Emma is sometimes Agnes, and Annora appears as Margaret, too.  I’m not sure if that’s due to inconsistent recordings, or a difference between their baptismal names and those used in daily life;
  • But the real story of Annora’s endurance has to do with the Pierrepont family.  Sir Henry Pierrepont’s ancestors were part of the Norman invasion.  Henry married Annora de Manvers, heiress to Holme, a town near Nottingham, England, in 1281.  Holme Pierrepont has been the village’s name ever since, and you can still visit the family’s ancestral home, pictured above.

In fact, the Pierreponts should get credit for preserving Annora:

  • In the early nineteenth century the 2nd Earl Manvers named his daughter Annora Charlotte.  She married Charles William-Wynn;
  • In 1853, the 3rd Earl – Annora’s brother – named his daughter Emily Annora Charlotte;
  • Maud Annora Williams-Wynn married Lord Harvey of Tasburgh in 1920.  I’m not positive of the connection, but there’s that name again, still standing, just like Holme Pierrepont.

Honora and Honoria are also in use.  Honoria has a particularly distinguished history, from Ancient Rome to the novels of Charles Dickens and PG Wodehouse.  Annora could succeed because she fits with so many trends:

  • She’s a virtue name, as gentle as the Top 20 Grace, but distinctive without venturing into the new-agey vibe of choices like Serenity;
  • There’s always a place for Ann names.  Hannah and Brianna had their day. Annabelle, Anneliese, and frilly Lilianna are current now.  Annora can even feel like an elaboration of Anna;
  • Nora has made a comeback, but some parents are debating if Eleanor is the right formal name, or if Nora can stand alone.  Annora is a nice compromise; it is also a smoosh of Ann and Nora, if you’re trying to honor two grandmothers;
  • Lastly, let’s not forget impact of starbaby Honor – she and daddy Cash with their trend-setting noun names could prompt more parents to flip to Annora in their baby name book.

But mostly, Annora remains undiscovered.  That’s good news if you’re looking for something a little bit different that your daughter won’t have to share, something traditional that isn’t common.  She could also serve as culture-spanning choice – remember the Arabic NoorAnura is a variant form.

With nicknames from the cute Annie to the elegant Nora, her medieval pedigree, and a great, undisputed meaning, Annora makes for that most elusive of finds: a truly wearable rarity.

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25 Comments

I love Annora. My husband doesn’t. He loves Eleanora. He says we could call her Anora but it’s just not the same.

My little girl is called Annora. Her middle name is Grace. I loved the name and with my sister and Aunt being Anne and my Grandma, Nora it is a little nod to them. I think it is pretty and traditional. I am hoping it doesn’t get too popular!

Honor is my favorite of these, closely followed by Annora. Honora is ok, but Honoria reminds me of the ending of “gonorrhea.” Unfortunately, graduate studies in gender and sexuality have ruined a bunch of beautiful names for my partner and for me!

I adore Annora and I’m always surprised it hasn’t caught on with the general public, since it gets so much love with name enthusiasts. I prefer Honora or Onora, simply because I like AH-nohr-ah more than AN-or-ah, but that’s just being trivial because I love them all.

As Nottingham born and bred, I remember frittering away my youth rowing at Holme Pierrepont. Either way, Annora is a lovely name, although my mouth sometimes wants to saying annoying. Meh.

I think Annora is pretty, and I think it has lovely potential in both middle and first name territory. I prefer Honora/Honoria and even Honor to Annora, but it is lovely and would be thrilled to meet a little Annora…and my love affair with the name Nora makes me hope that is chosen to be the designated nickname!

Annora is lovely-it looks beautiful written out and you can’t beat its wonderful meaning! In addition, I agree with Lola that it has a very sweet sound. This name has really been growing on me recently-thanks for featuring it! I definitely agree that it has the props to become more popular! However, I really hope it stays somewhat undiscovered…I might want to bestow it on one of my future daughters as a first or middle name.

Nice! I really like the name Annora, which is so old it seems like it can be revived without sounding “old lady”. I think a lot of people would think you made it up yourself, it sounds so new-again.

Not so sure about Flandrina though ……

I like it. One of my all time favourites is Honora/Honor, and I also like this variant. I think I still prefer Honora, because the word honor is in it, but if someone wanted to honour an Ann(e), this seems like a very nice choice.

Annora’s sooo pretty! 🙂 I had Annora on the list for Josie, as Annora Frances Lily. Sadly, all He hears is An – ora, which drives me bananas, and why it wasn’t bestowed.

I love her medieval roots and her sweet sound!

I’m still stuck back at “Flandrina”. And wondering if your Pierreponts are connected to John Pierpont Morgan.

I’d like to suggest that you do the girl’s name Genesis as a NOTD. I’ve been seeing it recently in birth announcements coming from California and upstate New York and I don’t understand where it’s coming from. I haven’t encountered it until recently as a name.

Hm. I’m surprised that Annora comes from the name Honorius/Honora, I would have thought that it was just another Ann variant…

The first time I heard this name was on the Syfy series Serenity (LOVE!) and I thought that it was a nice Syfy futuristic name with medieval allusions … nice to know that it actually has some history.

Do you mean Firefly? The name in that series is Inara.

I like Annora a lot and I’m not sure why I’ve never really considered it.

Thank you for featuring Annora. I love her sweet sound and was pleasantly surprised by her history.