Thanks to Nick & Erin for requesting our Baby Name of the Day.
THE IRON LADY & A MEDIEVAL KNIGHT
Even before The Crown re-introduced Margaret Thatcher to the popular imagination, the UK’s first female prime minister was the most famous Thatcher of them all.
The Iron Lady dominated headlines in the 1980s. Depending on your politics, this could make it a hero name – or one to avoid at all costs. Then again, with the 80s farther and farther away, maybe it’s simply a historical fact.
The former PM isn’t the only Thatcher – not by a long stretch.
Another familiar figure is the valiant William Thatcher, played by Heath Ledger in 2001’s A Knight’s Tale. With the help of a ragtag-yet-loyal group of friends, including Geoffrey Chaucer, the peasant becomes a champion jouster and gets the girl.
UP ON THE ROOF
Ledger’s character also explains how surnames worked, once upon a time.
The humbly born Will earned his surname because his father earned a living patching roofs with straw – thatch. Like Mason, it’s the kind of occupation no one exactly does anymore, but survives as a common last name.
Thatch comes from the Old High German decchen, to cover. It evolved into thakan, then traveled to Middle English as thachen. Thatched roofs can be found throughout the world, and while you might think they’re flimsy, they can be maintained for hundreds of years – and have attracted attention once more as a sustainable material.
EVEN MORE NOTABLES
You’ll find the name on the map in many places, including California and Vermont.
- Children’s book Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville. Jeremy splurges on an oversized marble, and the marble turns out to be a dragon’s egg.
- Becky Thatcher, Tom’s love interesting in Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer series.
- Veteran character actor Torin Thatcher, known for playing big screen bad guys in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
- Admiral Henry Thatcher led the US Navy during the Civil War. Two USS Thatchers have been named in his honor.
- Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is well known for her famous quote, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”
- It’s the given name of Grey’s Anatomy character Thatcher Grey, father to Meredith.
ON THE RISE
For much of the twentieth century, Thatcher appeared as a sometimes-used rarity, possibly a family name promoted to the first spot.
Heath Ledger’s turn in A Knight’s Tale sparked more interest in the name. In 2000, the US recorded 24 boys by the name. By 2001, that number was 41.
Plus, the baby name Thatcher fit with so many trends. In 2013, the US Top 100 included Hunter, Tyler, Carter, and Parker. Many more -r ending surname names for boys were climbing in use.
199 newborn boys received the name that year – enough to push Thatcher to a debut in the US Top 1000, at #986.
The name hasn’t slowed down since, reaching #799 as of 2019.
Handsome and polished, Thatcher feels just slightly different. It’s a hard-working name, the kind of choice that feels capable. It’s easy to see why parents have made Thatcher a fast-rising surname pick.
What do you think of the baby name Thatcher?
First published on April 15, 2009, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on February 23, 2015 and again on April 17, 2021.