It’s another surname possibility, this time with a distinctive sound sure to stand out from Carter and Mason.
Thanks to Christina for suggesting Digby as our Baby Name of the Day.
Digby is a surname, borrowed from the map like many an English name.
He comes from the Old Norse dik referred to a ditch, and býr – a farm. So Digby was, once upon a time, a farm near a ditch. The -by ending is not as common as -ley and -ly, but there are others:
- Rigby, a farm near a ridge
- Crosby, a farm near a cross
- Ashby – farm near an ash tree
Add in Darby, Kirby, Shelby, Catesby, Whitby, and Willoughby, and suddenly -by isn’t so unusual after all.
There are two Dibgys on the map in England – one in Lincolnshire, and another in Devon. Plenty of Australian and Canadian towns have been named after the originals.
The Digby family was a big deal in English politics. Sir Everard Digby was a Catholic, and part of the plotting to overthrow James I, the Protestant monarch back in 1605. Their scheme failed, and Digby and company met their deaths on charges of treason.
Everard’s son, Kenelm, was also a Catholic, and a philosopher and alchemist. He managed to live out his days peacefully, even if his religion made him an outsider.
Now get this: there was a second Everard Digby, and he named his son Kenelm, too, and they lived around the same time. This Kenelm served in Parliament.
The Peerage of Ireland includes Baron Digby, a title created in the early seventeenth century.
The Baron Digby clan includes nineteenth century Jane Digby, Lady Ellenborough. Lady Jane racked up a quartet of husbands and even more romances, including two kings and a sheik. Jane was called Jenny, or sometimes Aurora, a testament to her good looks.
I couldn’t find a direct connection between the earlier families and the present day Digbys, but here’s a hint: the current Baron Digby’s full name is Edward Henry Kenelm. His son is Henry Noel Kenlem, and his son is Edward St. Vincent Kenelm.
There’s also Digby Wentworth Bayard Willougby, the 9th Baron Middleton, born in 1844.
As a given name, Dibgy feels quite bold. He’s got something of an eccentric English vibe, a brother for Archibald or Godfrey.
But then there’s Digby Fairweather, a jazz musician active since the 1970s. And my personal favorite, Digby Pearson. In the 1980s he founded Earache Records, a British heavy metal label, repping some of the genre’s most infamous acts. (Anyone still have a Napalm Death LP?) Pearson answered to less genteel nickname Dig.
When I started writing, I was positive there had been an indie flick starring Kieran Culkin called Digby Goes Down. Wrong. The 2002 movie was Igby Goes Down. Doesn’t Digby feel a smidge more wearable than Igby?
Digby is downright rare in the US – he was given to fewer than five boys in 2011 and 2010, and exactly 5 in 2009. But with Crosby headed straight up, and Rigby and Ashby getting more attention, Digby starts to feel current. If you’re heartbroken that Sebastian and Xavier are in the Top 100, maybe Digby is the direction you should look.