The state of Virginia was named after Queen Elizabeth, aka the “Virgin Queen,” and in the many years since, many American parents have been inspired to give their children the name Virginia. The name peaked in popularity in the 1920s, and has steadily fallen out of favor in the U.S. since then. For obvious reasons, it’s always been more popular in Virginia than in the rest of the country — even though its popularity has ebbed in this state, too.
“Part of the reason [for the name’s waning popularity] might be that the scope of different names being used has expanded quite a bit and the relative scale of different communities has changed quite a bit,” says Seth Austin, director of the Office of Vital Records at the Virginia Department of Health. “The most popular names in Virginia used to be given to over 1,000 babies per year, while the 100th most popular name was given to less than 100 babies, a 10:1 ratio. Now, the ratio is compressed closer to 5:1, telling us there are many more different names being used overall.”
Famous Virginias from Virginia
Patsy Cline (1932–1963), born Virginia Patterson Hensley, the legendary country singer, was born and lived in Winchester.
V. C. Andrews (1923–1986), born Cleo Virginia Andrews, the Gothic horror novelist known for Flowers in the Attic, was born in Portsmouth and later lived in Virginia Beach.
Virginia Dare Aderholdt (1910–1997), a cryptanalyst known for decrypting the Japanese surrender message in 1945, was born in Shenandoah County and worked at the historic Arlington Hall.
Virginia Randolph (1870–1958), a pioneer of vocational education for Black students, was born in Richmond and worked in Henrico County.
Virginia Dare (1587–?) was the first child of English parents born in the New World and became a mythological figure. She was born in the Roanoke Colony, which was then called Virginia but is present-day North Carolina. She was part of the “Lost Colony,” and what happened is still a mystery.
This story originally ran in our May issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.