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27 April 2017

Emily and James top tots for second year in a row 

It’s official - Emily and James were the most popular first names given to baby girls and boys in Northern Ireland for births registered in 2016.

This is one of the findings of the Baby Names 2016 statistics published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Emily has been the most popular girls’ name in each of the past four years, albeit jointly with Grace in 2013. This is only the second time that James has held the top spot, despite being in the top five since records began in 1997.

In terms of boys’ names, Jack (which held the top spot for 12 consecutive years between 2003 and 2014) comes a close second to James in popularity with Oliver in third place. Ezra, however, climbed the greatest number of places to join the top 100 names for boys, rising from rank 126 in 2015 to rank 88 in 2016. Alfie and Jacob were new entries into the boy’s top 10, replacing Jake and Thomas.

While the popularity of boys’ names has varied over the years, James, Jack, Daniel and Matthew have all stood the test of time featuring in both the 2016 top 10 and the top 10 a decade previously. Colby, Hendrix, Kiefer, Prince and Woody on the other hand, were some of the less common names given to baby boys in 2016.

In terms of girls’ names, Grace has taken second place in the top 10 for the third time in four years, whilst Olivia comes a close third. Elsie climbed the greatest number of places to join the top 100 names for girls, moving from rank 155 in 2015 to rank 59 in 2016. Lily and Sophia also rose in popularity to join the girl’s top 10, replacing Aoife and Lucy.

Compared with boys, a greater number of girls’ names have held the top spot since the reporting of first names began in 1997. Emily and Sophie have held the top position on four and three occasions respectively, while Chloe and Katie each held it on six occasions. In terms of popularity, Sophie and Grace have stood the test of time featuring in the top 10 in 2016 and also a decade previously. Some of the less common names given to baby girls in 2016 were Cinderella, Dallas, Gigi, Melania and Scout.

More generally, the statistics published today also highlight that the popularity of baby names in 2016 (both boys and girls) varied, for example, by District Council, age of mother, country of birth of mother and month of registration. Blockbuster movies, popular television series, current celebrities and memorable places continue to appear to be influencing factors for some parents.

Top 10 baby names in Northern Ireland 2016


James – 254 Babies
Jack – 243 Babies
Oliver – 207 Babies
Charlie – 204 Babies
Noah – 201 Babies
Harry – 188 Babies
Jacob – 173 Babies
Daniel – 159 Babies
Matthew – 142 Babies
Alfie – 139 Babies

Emily – 237 Babies
Grace – 198 Babies
Olivia – 191 Babies
Anna – 164 Babies
Sophie – 155 Babies
Lily – 151 Babies
Amelia – 150 Babies
Ella – 142 Babies
Ava – 136 Babies
Sophia – 135 Babies

An interactive tool which will return the rank that any particular name has held over the period 1997 to 2016 is available at the following link:

A feedback survey can be completed at the following link:

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