Baby Name of the Day: Wallace


Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland - stained...

Wallace Monumnet, Stirling, Scotland - Image via Wikipedia

Even an Oscar-winning film couldn’t revive this former favorite. After hibernating for decades, is it time for his reappearance?

Thanks to Emma for suggesting Wallace as Baby Name of the Day.

Thirteenth-century resistance leader William Wallace has long been a national hero in Scotland. His surname migrated to the first spot in his honor.

Some suggest that Wallace’s family came to Scotland from Wales. That tracks with his surname. The Old English wealh meant foreign, and was often applied to those who spoke Welsh. In Anglo-Norman French, the name became waleis .

In September 1297, William Wallace and Andrew Moray led the Scottish forces against the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. They were outnumbered, and yet they scored a dramatic victory.
Moray died of injuries, but Wallace went on to serve as Guardian of Scotland – a position similar to king. His reign didn’t last long. Defeated at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298, he resigned his position, but continued to work for Scottish independence. In 1305, he was captured by the English, tried for treason, and executed in a gory fashion. Among other insults, his head ended up on a pike on London Bridge.

Fiction kicked in soon after. In the late 1400s, the poet known as Blind Harry penned The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace. It may have had some basis in fact, but it is generally considered a heavily imagined account. An early eighteenth century version was published in England, attracting the attention of a new generation of writers.

Until 1927, he was a Top 100 pick in the US, peaking at #69 in 1923. And then he reversed course, falling until he left the rankings after 1993. I can’t find any one figure that inspired Wallace’s rise in the 1920s. Walter was even more popular at the time. Wil- names were huge, too: William, Willie, Willard, Wilbur, Willis, Wilbert, and Wilfred all appeared in the US Top 200 for the decade. Wally would peak as an indpendent given name in 1945 at #602.
Notable figures wearing Wallace as a surname are plentiful, and one of them is Braveheart screenwriter and director Randall Wallace.
It could have been enough to push Wallace back into favor, but Wallace remains in limbo. Maybe it because nickname Wally still feels unwearable, or perhaps claymation characters Wallace and Gromit put parents off.
But Wallace was best friend to Veronica Mars, and a teenaged drug dealer-turned-informant on HBO’s The Wire. There’s also Western novelist Wallace Stegner, lending the name a bit of Western flair.
Wallis is a variant spelling, often considered the feminine variant ever since Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson won the heart of a king and became the Duchess of Windsor in 1937. Actor Anthony Edwards gave the name to one of his daughters.
If he loves Wyatt and you prefer William, Wallace just might serve as a compromise. If you’re looking for a Scottish heritage pick, he’s as good a choice as Angus.

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29 Comments

Love the name WALLACE for a male! No more granddaddish than Harold, Oscar, Fred and some of the other old retro names coming back. I wouldn’t go with a nick name and a kid should be called by his name. When William made a come back the name stuck…can’t say I’ve heard any Williams called Willie/Willy!

I love the name Wallace for a male. Way too masculine for a female. Very strong, masculine, sophisticated, dignified, and not as common as all the current names being used. UNIQUE for today! Goes great with sibling names William, Allacyn, Thornton, Wyatt, and sooo many others. If a person prefers nick names could be Ace for short. Lots of people use surnames today……Addison, Madison, Cooper, Carter, Shane, ect. Other links does show it on the rise (babycenter.expertadvise) so if looking for something not to be common in the future should think about another name. Looks like this one could be on the rise. Still love it!

My son’s middle name is Wallace. It was my grandfather’s middle name and my great-grandmother’s maiden name. He loves his middle name. (His first name is Geoffrey.)

I grew up with a kid named Waldemort who was named for his father. I’m not 100% on the spelling but that was the pronunciation. I always thought it was a cruel name for a kid and we called him Wally anyway. It’s a wonder his mother didn’t just go with Wallace which is much better.

It’s “and Gromit” associations are a bit too strong for most people I think. I had family friends growing up whose last name was Wallis, so that version of the name is far too much of a surname for me to ever find it appealing on a little girl.

I love the idea of Wallis on a girl, but there’s that whole abdicating the throne thing … awfully dramatic for a child.

It’s ok although probably considered completely naff here NZ. A Wallace would probably be besties with Murray, Trevor, Wayne and Bruce.

Like a previous poster, it’s very Wallace “”I do like a bit of gorgonzola.” & Gromit for me.

My neighbor growing up was named Wallace. Our family adopted Wallace and his wife as an extra set of grandparents, so I would love to name a son after him. However, Wallace Schw____ is a tongue twister and my FIL would have an impossible time pronouncing it correctly.

It really is too bad because I really love names that end in the -s sound…
Lois, Elias, Agnes, Silas

Wonder what the WALL-E Pixar flick does/doesn’t do for Wallace/Wally? I think it kinda makes it more appealing for me… I liked the film and the little robot in love.

I hear the name and think “and Gromit”. I do like those characters, but that Wallace probably isn’t someone you’d immediately think to name your child after.

Plus being English, rather than Scottish, it wouldn’t really work for me either.

I’m not a fan of the nickname Wally – maybe because of the “Where’s Wally?” association in the UK. Also the British slang where wally means “an idiot or imbecile”. (Probably outdated nowadays, but does come to mind for me.)

I do like Walter / Walt a lot though.

I like Wallace, especially as a heritage choice (not for me, as I have no Scottish heritage, but for someone who does). One of my best friend’s maiden name is Wallace, so it is very surnamey for my ears, but I still like it OK as a fn choice. Personally, Walter is a favorite. That gives Walt or Wally as options for nns. But really, Wally is unwearable? I think it’s adorable for a nn. But then my son goes by Ollie, so it’s not a major stretch from Ollie to Wally, so I guess maybe I’m biased in that regard… but I really don’t see Wally as that unwearable – most people under 35 aren’t really familiar with Leave it to Beaver (right?) and, seriously, next to Beaver, Wally feels downright ‘normal’ for a nn (I’m pretty sure a show by that title today would have had some extremely different content and only be airable on HBO!). All in all, I’d go for Walter, but I’m kind of shocked Wallace is not in the rankings. I’d say it’s time for a comeback!

We chose Wallace for our son’s middle name. His grandfather’s middle name is Wallace, and nobody else in the family had used it yet (his first name has been used twice already). He himself got that middle name from a great-uncle (first)named Wallace who fought in the Spanish-American War and was also stationed at Fort Apache at some point (we found an old photo of this). So we liked all the history that came with the name.

I just remember Wally on Leave It To Beaver reruns. Eddie Haskell referred to him as Wallace whenever he was brown-nosing Mrs. Cleaver.

Oddly enough, over the last 3 months or so I have felt like suggesting this name on baby name boards but held back thinking that it wasn’t ready to come back. I’m in my late 40s and not familiar with any of the pop culture references you mentioned.

I will stop holding back and start suggesting strong masculine Wallace!

I like Wallace also. I don’t suggest it to everybody, but some folks might be open to it. Not long ago I think people would have scoffed at Oscar, which I love, but it has been getting a positive reaction for a few years at least. I’m working on Edgar 😉 I think Wallace is worthy of it also. I actually like the nickname Wally. I probably like Walter more than Wallace, but I really like the Braveheart connection.

This is my brother’s, my dad’s, and my grandfather’s middle name so it has a lot of sentimentality for me – especially as a Scot as well! I plan on using it as a middle name for a son one day.

I have a family member who named her daughter Wallace which was her maiden name. And we had a cat named Wallace Earl or Wallie Earl.