Front view of a Hammond organ
Photo credit: bhermans via Flickr

He’s a common surname that could transition nicely to the first spot.

Thanks to Lottie for suggesting one from her family tree.  Hammond is our Baby Name of the Day.

Back in Norman England, you might have met a man named Hamo.  That’s clearly a non-starter of a name in 2013, jaunty -o ending or not.

Hamo’s roots are not porcine.  Instead, it probably comes from the Germanic element haim or heim – home, or maybe the Norse hár – high.  Names like Haimo, Haimund, Hámundr and more appear in the historical record.

The Normans brought him to England, and a handful of given names and surnames evolved.  There’s Hamnet – Shakespeare’s son, and possibly the inspiration for the name of Danish prince Hamlet.  Hamon and Hamlin come to  mind, too.

As for the word hamlet, as in a small village, it tracks back to haim, too, as does our word home.

So it’s a cozy concept, but how does it wear?

For starters, Hammond is all over the map.  I stopped counting at a dozen.  Actually, I stopped counting when I discovered a glacier by the name in Antarctica.  The glacier honors John Hays Hammond.  I’m not clear if he ever visited, but he was an influential mining engineer who amassed a fortune, then settled into a second act as a diplomat.  His son, John Jr., went on to invent some spectacular things, including pioneering remote control.  His former home and laboratory in Gloucester, Massachusetts is open to the public, and it is quite grand.  It’s known as Hammond Castle, yet another landmark to share the name.

While we’re on the surname, there’s also:

  • Laurens Hammond, founder of the Hammond Organ Company in the 1930s.  It was designed as a price-sensitive alternative to pipe organs for churches, but by 1960s and 70s, eclipsed pipe organs, used in far more than church music.
  • William Hammond, the Army’s surgeon general during the Civil War, who retired to devote himself to neurology – making him, essentially, the first neurologist in the US.  He was also a birdwatcher, and Hammond’s Flycatcher is named in his honor.  He has a snake and a toad named in his honor, too.
  • Eighteenth century African-American poet Jupiter Hammon is considered the first African-American writer to be published in modern day America, and a founding father of African-American literature.

Writer Hammond Innes was born Ralph.  Hammond was his middle name.  Innes started out a journalist, but ended as a prolific writer, the author of more than 30 novels, along with travel guides and children’s books, from the 1930s into the 1990s.  That quite a stretch!

Fictional figures include Evey Hammond, the heroine of V is for Vendetta, played by Natalie Portman on the big screen.  Jurassic Park’s fictional mastermind was called John Hammond.  He’s a greedy villain in the novel, but a much more sympathetic figure in the movie version.

In any case, Hammond is a surname that would fit right in with Parker and Carson, Emerson and Yates.

The only downside is the possibility that he’ll be shorted to Ham or even Hammie, both of which are non-starters.  But in our nickname-free era, where boys are William, not Bill, this seems a minor hurdle.

He’s a little bit preppy, but a little bit humble, too – a brother for Miller or Clark.  It all makes Hammond an intriguing possibility, a name that is perfectly on trend and just a little different.

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Oooh very much dislike for a first name! It’s way too much of a surname for me. 🙂

  2. My husband kept trying to sell me on Harmon (for Harmon Killebrew.) I never warmed up to it and I especially disliked the nickname options. As for the very similar Hammond, I’d give it a maybe… but I like Hamish a lot more.

  3. Hamish would be a good alternative, if one doesn’t have Hammond in the family tree. Mond or Monty or even Manny could be nn, or Hamie (hay-mee, not ham-ee).