Daily Mail (London), October 27, 2010
Mohammed is now the most popular name for newborn boys in England and Wales ahead of Jack and Harry, it emerged today.
The name, when 12 different spellings were included, was given to 7,549 youngsters in 2009, official statistics revealed.
Oliver was the second most popular and it was given to 7,364 boys in England and Wales in 12 months.
Jack was third, Harry fourth and Alfie in fifth place in the league table of names.
However, because official figures did not take into account the variations in the spelling of Mohammed, Oliver was named as the most popular boys’ name by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) who released the information.
Jack had been the top name for newborn boys in England and Wales for the previous 14 years.
While Oliver was beaten to first place by Mohammed, in the girls list Olivia came out on top.
Ruby, Chloe, Emily and Sophie made up the top five list of girls’ names in 2009, it emerged today.
The official list put Mohammed in only 16th place, but when the other 11 different spellings of the same name are taken into account it is the most popular.
Mohammed was given to 3,300 boys, while Muhammad was given to 2,162 youngsters.
The name is a common Anglicised spelling of an Arabic name taken from a word meaning ‘praise’.
There is disagreement among scholars about why there are so many spellings of the same name–some argue it is because of phonetic translations while others say it is down to parental choice.
Muslim parents often use the name to honour the Prophet or to show a link to the religion.
There are 14 recognised variations of the spelling–although only 12 of them were given to newborn children last year.
Muslims make up around three per cent of the British population.
The unusual names David and Victoria Beckham gave to their three boys seemed to be boosted in the annual league tables by their celebrity association.
There were 282 Brooklyns, 78 Romeos and 73 Cruzs born in 2009, the figures revealed.
Six new names made it into the top 100 boys’ names this year–they were Aiden, Arthur, Frederick, Jude, Stanley and Austin.
In the girls’ list, three names moved into the top 100 this year–Heidi, Mya and Sara.
Compared to names chosen for babies ten years earlier, there was a resurgence in the popularity of names which were associated with people of the inter-war generation, or earlier.
Evie was the tenth most popular name given to baby girls in 2009, for example, moving up 157 places since 1999.
Ruby, the second most popular name for girls in 2009, was ranked 91 places lower 10 years ago.
Boys’ names such as Alfie and Charlie have followed a similar trend.
Six names in the boys’ top ten in 2009 were also there in 1999–Jack, Joshua, Thomas, James, Daniel and William.
Five girls’ names featured in both lists–Olivia, Chloe, Emily, Sophie and Jessica.
There were 706,248 live births in England and Wales in 2009.
Mothers of newborn and slightly older babies are urged by the ONS to include their babies’ details in the 2011 Census, taking place next March.
‘Babies often go unrecorded in the census as new mothers sometimes don’t realise they need to enter the details of even the very newest member of the household,’ ONS spokesman William Mach said.
‘There is a strong link between filling in the census and the authorities being able to plan and provide public services in years to come–for example, in setting numbers of school places.’