Name Help: How Many JamesName Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Angela writes:

My husband and I are expecting our first child together. We both have children from previous relationships. In age order, their names are:

  • Bryce James, his girlfriend Maddie and their son Greyson James
  • Marlo Kate
  • Hana June
  • Cooper Riley

In addition, my kids have a half-brother named Leo Michael.

Obviously, there’s a big age gap between this baby and the older siblings. I’m not sure if this will be our only child together, but it’s pretty likely. Here are my questions:

Can we use James?

I love the idea of naming a son James. It’s my husband’s name, which is already reflected in Bryce’s middle name and was handed down to Bryce’s son, Greyson. We wouldn’t have a junior, and they’d use different nicknames. But would it be weird to use James again, when it’s already repeated. (My husband was named for his grandfather, and he grew up with a cousin James, too.)

If it’s a girl, should we use James as her middle name?

We have two favorite girl names, Daisy and Edie, and we’ve pretty much settled on Edie. The sound of Edie James is just perfect to me, but again – is that too many Jameses? And is it too trendy?

If not James, what would you suggest?

I think part of the problem is that we really don’t have other names on our list. We might use Hendrix, because it’s similar to my mom’s maiden name, Hendrickson. But my nephew is Henry and I feel like it would be too close, and I just don’t think I love it as a first name anyway.

Please read on for my reply and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.

Abby replies:

Congratulations on your new baby!

Blended families offer some specific challenges, as does naming children across many years. But I think it’s also just plain fun! In my dad’s family, I’m the Greyson – the oldest grandchild, the same age as my youngest aunts. I have so many good memories of our childhood together, and I hope your family will enjoy the same.

But back to the naming challenges.

Let’s go through the questions one by one:

Can we use James?

I think you can. Your stepson doesn’t use the name. And he passed on the option of giving the name to his firstborn. Naming this son James can potentially emphasize his connection to both generations – his dad and his older brother, too.

If Bryce were younger, I might not have that opinion – particularly in a blended family. It’s too easy for a slightly older child to feel like they’re being replaced by the new baby. But that doesn’t really apply here, so I feel like you can name your son James.

In fact, I get the impression that choosing the name James might feel like a unifying decision, rather than a divisive one. But if there’s any doubt, it sounds like your husband could comfortably have a conversation with his firstborn to check in.

James Hendrix sounds like the name that checks every box.

If it’s a girl, should her middle name be James?

The thing about James is that it’s a little challenging to find a feminine form. There’s Jacoba and Jacqueline, but neither of those feel like feminine forms of James. And so it’s not like you can switch out Charlotte for Charles or Josephine for Joseph. James is the obvious choice.

Is it trendy? It’s clearly trending. But there’s a difference. Names are always finding their way in and out of favor. Ruth was a Top Ten name in 1924, and it’s gaining in use a century later. But it doesn’t feel trendy, right? James strikes me as a similar case – a classic name we’re reconsidering today. Just like Shirley and Madison and Evelyn were once masculine in use, and now are somewhere between unisex and exclusively feminine, James seems to be shifting.

It’s a good moment for unisex names, too – they’re increasingly common in the US.

Plus, if you want to use James and there’s a possibility this will be your last child? It would be a shame to miss that opportunity.

Especially as a middle name? I’d go for it. And it’s great with Edie!

If not James, what would you suggest?

I’m struggling with this question, because James Hendrix feels like The Name.

But I wonder if you’d like something current, but a little more traditional in feel. Maybe:

  • KNOX
  • OWEN

I’m not sure about Knox or Hudson with the middle name Hendrix, but I do think James as a middle name is an option here, too!

Readers, any advice for Angela? Do you think they’ll regret using James … or are more likely to regret NOT using for this baby, either as a first or a middle?

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I immediately didn’t like Edie James as an option- unless it’s a pronunciation issue? Edie, to me, would be pronounced exactly the same as Eddy, the nickname for Edward. So it’d be a masculine nickname name, with a still very male middle. Edith James (called Edie) wouldn’t hit me the same way, since Edith is known as a feminine name, but Edie James hits my ear wrong. But maybe I’m wrong, and Edie is actually pronounced different, or maybe you really like boyish names on girls and you don’t mind this!

    I would say, though, that is NOT too many Jameses. Especially since you are so enthusiastic about the name!

  2. Question for you…. Do Bryce, Grayson, your husband and baby on the way share their last name? If so, does it bother you? Then why would more Jameses bother you? Seriously? Isn’t the name sharing part of the whole family identity thing? My point is….. No one else (except Dad who uses a different nickname) use James on a daily basis. So it seems fair game to me to use it as a first. So go for it!

    For girls, I’m still personally not sold on James for girls. Edie James is adorable. But I’m still hoping James isn’t a modern day Ashley…. It is just so dashing on a boy/man.. Why not Angela or Andrea or Andy to honor you instead? Dad has honors x2 already. Or Henley, Henrietta, Harriet, Ricky, Raquel, Sonny, or something that reflects Hendrickson? (Kendra keeps running through my mind, but not sure that works?). My point is, James is grand…. But so are you.

  3. There are good reasons to use James (it being a name you love especially) but there may arguably be better reasons to go in a different direction. Your husband already has two name sakes. How many women or people from your family have namesakes?

    I want to suggest Edie Henrietta as a link to your mum’s maiden name. All the best with your decision.

  4. It seems entirely perfect to call a son James Hendrix.
    Loving Edie James.
    They only ‘maybe?’ is if you had a girl now with James as a middle then a boy later?
    But you could always use Hendrix as the first then.

  5. I think James for a son and Edie James for a daughter are lovely options!

    You could talk to your stepson about how he feels about sharing James with his little sibling… but only if you’re prepared to explore other options should he have qualms!

    James Hendrix sounds great, but just note that people might assume it’s a tribute to Jimi Hendrix (born James)! James Hendrickson is just as nice.

  6. I agree – James is absolutely useable and sounds like THE name for you. I wouldn’t use Hendrix in the middle though, unless you’re a huge fan? 😉 Are there any other names from your side you’d like to use in the middle – maybe Ansel or Anderson as a nod to yourself? Those could be firsts too if you’re not convinced at James up front. How about Ames? Jay? (or whatever form of James you’d call him if you say they’ll be called different things in your family.)

    For a girl, I love Edie James. James as a middle for girls does feel trendy HOWEVER it’s a family name so that trumps anything. I’d challenge Abby’s notion that it’s hard to feminize James though – Jamie is a lovely unisex name. If you’re into creative/alternate spellings, it could be Jaymee.

  7. In your situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to name my son James. I love the name, and, as Abby mentioned, it creates a point of unity with your husband, Bryce, and Greyson.

    I also think it’s a great idea to use the middle name James for a daughter. Edie James and Daisy James are lovely and pair nicely with Marlo Kate and Hana June. Some people will inevitably hear James as Jane, but that’s easily corrected — and most likely will only come up if you routinely use her first and middle names together.

    Best wishes to you!