With all the sociopolitical commotion going on about the “One Percenters” and the unfair distribution of wealth between the shrinking middle class and the overly privileged, we thought it might be fun to look at naming styles of the caviar-eating, jet-setting, Park Avenue-living wealthy. So what exactly separates these feudal lords from us lowlife serfs besides their favorable tax brackets, bevy of nannies, elite private preschools and $1500 strollers? There’s something about the naming styles among the rich and powerful. Of course there are the gauche rich people like Donald Trump who name their son Barron, which is a surname derived from a title of nobility originating with Norman kings. Not only was this medieval surname granted to those Normans who assisted in the invasion of Ireland, but it’s also one of those names that unapologetically shouts: “Hey, I’m more important than you!” The vulgar rich or wannabe-rich might also be drawn to names like Bentley, Royce, Tiffany or Mercedes (we’re jus’sayin!) Then there are the understated, self-made ϋber-rich like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who name their children like the rest of us average folk (Susan, Howard, Peter, Jennifer, Phoebe and Rory). Finally we have the elite rich, the old-moneyed aristocracy, families like the Rockefellers, Du Ponts, Astors and Vanderbilts. Traditional families use time-honored, refined names, so on these family trees you’ll find monikers such as Nelson, David, Henry, William, Francis, Charles, Alfred, Margaret, Emily, Jane, Charlotte, Elizabeth and Ava.
In our imagination we picture the halls of Philip Exeter Academy filled with boys named Blaine, Brooks, Chauncey, Sebastian, Sterling and Winston. Or at the Debutantes Ball we look for girls named Gloria, Jacqueline, Caroline, Margaret, Brooke and Claire in haute couture gowns making their grand entrance into privileged society. It’s hard to put a finger on it – what makes a name “wealthy” sounding? We’re not sure exactly, but there are certain names that carry a certain air. For instance, by choosing names like Auden, Dashiell, Holden, Beckett, Harper, Portia, Scout or Scarlett parents can show off their expensive education and let the world know how exceptionally well read they are (by the way, who even understands Beckett’s avant-garde plays? You better make sure you’re pretty darn smart if you plan to use a name like Beckett). Ah, but we digress.
We don’t know of any studies that list the most popular names among parents with a net worth of, say, 10 million or more. But we do find an unmistakable tone of haughtiness when we hear certain names. We scoured through our database and came up with a list below. And by the way, we aren’t saying these names are inherently snobby, arrogant or filled with self-importance. They just sound classier, or at least some of them sound like they are trying to be classier. There’s often a distinguishable difference to that point; but that’s for you to decide. You may be drawn to some of these names or you may find many of them nauseating. Many of them are quite charming and have triumphed over the test of time while others inspire a little eye-rolling. Either way, we say “Let them eat cake!”