He’s a Harry Potter hero and a literary gem.
Thanks to UrbanAngel for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Kingsley.
The US Top 1000 is chock full of little monarchs: there’s Kingston (#225) and King (#462), plus Prince (#691) and Rex (#752). That’s not counting names that conjure up famous rulers, from Arthur to Messiah to Cash.
Kingsley started out as something of a generic place name. It comes from a handful of places in England that would’ve been called cyningesleah in Old English – the King’s (cyning) woods or woodland or field by the wood (leah). It’s easy to imagine plenty of locations fitting that description once upon a time. Even now, there are places bearing the name throughout the English-speaking world.
Like any surname, he was occasionally promoted to the first spot over the years, though he has never cracked the US Top 1000.
In the late nineteenth century, British politician Kingsley Wood wore the name – though he was actually born Howard Kingsley Wood. He had a long career, eventually serving under Winston Churchill.
Around the same time, Kingsley Taft made a name for himself in Ohio politics. He’s from the same Taft family that counts President William Taft amongst its members. If you check out their tree, plenty of family names are passed down generation to generation. I couldn’t figure out exactly where Kingsley came into the mix – it must be a mother’s maiden name – but it’s a pretty ordinary appellation compared to some Taft choices. Thankful, Esick, and Japhet also appear. Kingsley Taft served on the Ohio Supreme Court and also as a US Senator.
But the most famous bearer of the twentieth century is prolific English author Kingsley Amis. Amis is usually considered one of the original Angry Young Men, a group of 1950s era British writers known for their criticism of post-World War II society. His debut novel, Lucky Jim, was a satire that pitted the educated, but awkward, Jim Dixon against his social betters. Dixon has the last laugh.
A younger generation isn’t thinking of Amis’ enduring works, but of another writer: JK Rowling’s wizarding world, brought to life in the Harry Potter series. Kingsley Shacklebot is one of the good guys. He first appears in Book Five, sent to escort Harry to the safe house for the Order of the Phoenix. He also works undercover in the Prime Minister’s office, and after the series ends, becomes the Minister of Magic.
Kingsley’s sound fits nicely with the surname picks so popular for boys in 2010, but he has one additional advantage. While Riley, Avery, Delaney, and Hadley are all likely to be worn by girls, Kingsley is closer to Crosby. Yes, you could use the name for your daughter, but the sound seems less likely to appeal to parents attracted to Bailey, Kenley, and company.
So if you’re searching for a surname pick with worthy namesakes and low odds that your son will come home crying that you gave him a girls’ name, Kingsley might make for the perfect choice.
My sister loved the name Kingsley and always planned to name her son that. Well, then they chickened out because they thought it was a bit too strange as a first name. So my nephew is named Ryan Kingsley.
My daughter’s name is Suzanna Kingsley and goes by Kingsley. It is a family name. My sister’s child is Anne Kingsley (double name.) there is not a day (or maybe week) that goes by that she is not complimented on her name. We live in the south so maybe that is why no one thinks it is masculine. We have loved the name and it is a perfect fit for her!
Well wouldn’t you know, the name has debuted for boys this year! I approve
C in DC says
I’d also like to throw Leroy (Le Roi), Royce, etc., into the mix. My grandfather was Arthur Leroy — tells you what my great-grandmother thought of her first and only son.
I like the sound of Kingsley. I mentally associate it with a British accent every time, though.
I think Kingsley is horrible and silly. It also reminds me of Pugsley. I’d rather just King. I do like Rex.
Yeah, I think title names are awkward. But I don’t even like the Deacons, Bishops or other names like that, so it goes beyond regal names. I did teach a Mister once, and that was weird. (He was inner-city, and his mom insisted that this way he’d always be called Mister – I guess if you’re used to a lack of respect, then it’s a way of imparting that?)
Also, reminds me of Jermajesty Jackson. I mean, seriously. Come on.
…That comment was one big grammatical failure. Very, very tired.
I went to school with an unpleasant Kingsley, so I never liked the name. He was a very large boy, actually, and his name was a source of teasing.
Having learned that it its a Harry Potter name I like it less. I’m a literature snob and those poorly written works make me weep.
I’m with Photoquilty – something feels wrong about names that are also titles in your own language… while Kingsley isn’t nearly as awkward as Duke, Prince, or King, it still has that ring to it. And yes, it also makes me think of furry babies (dogs/cats) when I hear aristocratic/royal/titular names.
Love it! When I volunteered at the pound there was an adorable male kitten named Kingsley that I wanted to adopt but I couldn’t since I already have so many kitties 😀 It reminds me of Kingsley from The ‘Blue Bloods’ novels about the vampires.
I can’t believe no one else mentioned Ben Kingsley! [Indian-British actor, born Krishna Pandit Bhanji.] He’s fantastic, and definitely the first to come to mind when I hear the name Kingsley.
OF COURSE! Thanks, Panya – he is fantastic, and adds a lovely bit of polish to the name. And he’s certainly as influential as the fictional wizard.
Charlotte Vera says
Kingsley was the name I gave the teddy bear I was given when I turned eleven! (Yes, I was given a teddy bear at age eleven. Why? Because it seemed like no one had given me one earlier and I felt a bit left out, so it went on my list of desired gifts.) I still really like the name, but it’s all stuffed-animal to me.
Hard to believe that King, Rex and Prince are in the top 1000; those are all dog names IMO.
Kingsley is a main thoroughfare (street) in northeast Dallas, so I wouldn’t use it for that reason. But I have no issue with hearing Kingsley on someone else, especially if it’s a family name.
Joy, I’ve seen that comment elsewhere, too – I do think of Rex as the perfect name for a pup, but there was Rex Harrison. I lived near a Kingsley in Pittsburgh – I think it used to be a neighborhood designation, but the only thing I can remember distinctly was a community center. Not a bad or a good association, just a definite place name.
Of course, there are folks who give their dogs human names: Charlie, Sam, Max, Riley, Lucy, Molly, Sadie, etc.
Not me; my dog is Sugar, and the cats are Pepper and Honey.
I like it better than Kingston, but there is something so silly-sounding about giving a child a name with King in it (or queen, princess, prince, etc.) – in English. I don’t mind names like Regina, Sarah (I think she means princess), well established names that translate well. But that’s just me.
It does always strike me that if you name your kid King, and he turns out to be particularly defiant, it must make for some funny sentences. “Go to your room, King!” does seem, well … off. Then again, my daughter is in danger of thinking her name is “Cliono,” pronounced cleeeeeeOOOHnoooo, so maybe it doesn’t sound any more sensible no matter what you call your child.