The baby name Romilly sounds like a mashup of elegant Rose and sweet Millie, but there’s so much more to this rare, fascinating name.

Thanks to Jess for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.


There are two likely sources for Romilly.

First up: geography.

France gives us Romilly-sur-Seine and Romilly-sur-Aigre. There’s even Romilly in Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. All the Romillys on record appear to be modest places, perhaps less likely to inspire a child’s name in the way that a better known place like Savannah or Cairo.

In some cases, Romilly might come from an Old English word meaning spacious, combined with that familiar -ly ending, for a woodland clearing.


Roman legends tells of twin brothers who quarreled about where to found a new city. Romulus won, and so gave his name to Rome.

Chances are that it’s fiction, but it’s a good story. The family name Romilius comes from the mythological founder. There’s a minor patrician family known as the gens Romilia.

But, as it happens, this all goes back to France again.

Because Romilly-sur-Seine is said to be named for the owner of a Gallo-Roman villa. His name? Romilius.


In any case, the surname Romilly arrived in England following the Norman invasion in 1066.

There’s Robert De Rumilly – or maybe Robert de Romille – born in Normandy, who came to England and held Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire, defending against Scottish invaders.

His eventual heir, Alice de Romilly, established Bolton Priory on the land after her son tragically drowned. A poem by William Wordsworth recounts the story, referring to “young Romilly.”

There’s another Romilly family of note. British politician and reformer Samuel Romilly was descended from French Huguenots who fled religious persecution for a new life in England. His son, John Romilly, followed in his father’s footsteps and became the 1st Baron Romilly in 1866.

Etienne’s grandson, Samuel Romilly, put their surname on the map. A legal reformer known for limiting capital punishment, he was also the father of seven children. His second-born son also entered politics and became Baron Romilly in 1866.

Many years later, Esmond Romilly married one of the famous Mitford socialite sisters. Clementine Churchill, wife of Winston, was their aunt.

So it’s quite aristocratic, with centuries of use behind it, at least as a surname.


Despite a long and storied past, as a baby name Romilly never quite caught on.

British artist Augustus John gave the name to a son. Born in 1906, Romilly John went on to serve in the Royal Air Force.

English journalist and television presenter Romilly Weeks has been a fixture in the UK since the mid-1990s.

But that’s not nearly enough to take the name into the mainstream.

And then, in 1999, actress Emma Thompson welcomed daughter Gaia Romilly.

A year earlier, future chef Romilly Newman was born in New York City. Her career started when she was just in her teens, with an appearance on Food Network Chopped‘s first junior version. She’s not a household name – yet – but it’s more proof that by the 90s, Romilly was on the most stylish parents’ radar.

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The baby name Romilly caught on first in the UK. While it’s never been especially popular, it’s not unknown. For English parents, it’s a little bit like Saskia or Leonie.

In the US, it’s even less common. It first debuted in the data in the year 2013, with seven births.

As of 2023, it reached a new high. 15 girls received the baby name Romilly.


All of this makes Romilly a contender for parents seeking an undiscovered gem.

It’s a successor to Kimberly and Mackenzie, an alternative to Rosalie and Elodie, and somehow not quite as out-there as Rhapsody.

With short forms Romy and Milly built right in, it’s easy to imagine rare Romilly wearing well.

What do you think of the baby name Romilly?

Originally published on June 22, 2008, and substantially revised on December 13, 2011 and again on July 12, 2024.

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. Our little one year old girl is a Romilly, we absolutly adored the name and she appears on the “Romilly” website. I really don’t want her name to become too popular, we wanted a name that was individual without being wacky. I hated being a “Tracey” in the “Sharon and Tracey” era of the 80’s and I was determined that she wouldn’t have a “faddy” name. We have only ever had positive reactions to her name.

  2. I so love the name Romilly. I have two boys but if I ever have a girl, it is on the top of my list.