While reading several Regency novels, I’ve noticed a certain pattern to the names of characters.
- Lily/Lillian – I’ve actually lost count how many times I’ve seen this name come up. Somehow, every Lily is a naive hoyden on the run from someone. As someone who used to find it adorable, I could do without seeing it in a Regency story ever again.
- Isabella/Isabel/Isabelle/Belle/Bella – This name was gaining popularity even before the Twilight books came out, but can just one of them not be clumsy?
- Molly – The favored name of chambermaids and street rats.
- Grace – Too often used as the joke, “Grace/Your Grace”
- Charity, Chasity, Patience, Passion, Prudence – I know virtue names were a thing at one point, but sometimes they come off far too Mary Sue in trying to make the character from the actual virtue.
Names that get a pass because they’re historically accurate in their usage: Jane, Elizabeth, Anne, Joan, Mary, Marie, Julia, Emma, Lydia, Sophia, Kate, Catherine, Charlotte. Overall, the overuse of female names happens less often than it does with male names.
- Sebastian – The arrogant noble guy who always ends doing the right thing, in spite of himself. Self-righteous to the bone.
- Jack – The ideal name for the rogue, misunderstood younger son of some nobleman. Also known as “the black sheep” of the family.
- Rafe – Pretty much the self-made man with an ignoble yet slightly noble background.
- Tristan – This is one of my favorite male names and I’ve used it in Regency, but I’m a little weary of seeing it now. Often he’s the good, not twisted hero with more whimsy in his character than most other heroes.
- Gabriel – This name often emphasizes the avenging angelic nature of the hero.
Names that get a pass because they’re historically accurate in their proliferate usage: Edward, Henry, Richard, Michael, John.
It’s not the common usage of names that’s obnoxious (in real life it happens all the time), it’s that the names have become stock characters.