James and Mary
Here's the big reveal: If you haven't already guessed, the most popular names of the last century are James and Mary.
Collectively, these names represent more than 8 million babies! Mary was the No. 1 girl's name for eight decades, from the 1880s to the early 1950s. James only occupied the top spot from 1940 to 1953, but was in the top five from the 1880s all the way to 1980.
It's fitting, even karmic, that James means "supplanter" or someone who replaces another, because this name replaced every other boy name to gain the top spot. Six U.S. presidents, at least two Declaration of Independence signers, plus numerous saints and kings have had this name. Modern-day Jameses include actors Cagney, Dean, and Earl Jones; athletes Jim Thorpe and Jimmy Connors; musicians James Brown, James Taylor and Jimi Hendrix -- and this barely touches the tip of the iceberg.
Mary is by far the most popular girl's name of all time. The Bible alone mentions four Marys in the New Testament, including Jesus' mother. In the Christian Church's early days, the name was considered too sacred to bestow on a person but around the 12th century, people began using it again. There have been famous Marys in every walk of life -- history, religion, science, literature, politics, royalty -- even on ships and in nursery rhymes.
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