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 Noor? Anura 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.