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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Ever been to Preston, Britney?
Lourdes with mother Madonna
Lourdes - a healer, says Mum

The newborn baby of Britney Spears shares his name with a Lancashire city, according to reports. What is it with famous children and place names?

Britney Spears and Preston would not often be words used in the same sentence.

Yet after Britney gave birth on Wednesday, reports in the US claimed the child would be called Preston Michael Spears Federline, in the absence of confirmation from the family.

London was reportedly considered as another option, because Britney met her husband Kevin in the English capital, but it was later ruled out.

There is a city called Preston in Minnesota, US, and many others around the world, and the Sun is adamant Britney has never been to the Lancashire version.

But the name may not be entirely coincidental to what is one of the UK's newest cities. Maybe she fell in love with its famous Guild Hall, after watching the snooker there?

Madonna and child

Or was there a more romantic attachment to Lancashire?

After naming their first child Brooklyn, Victoria Beckham said it was because he was conceived there, joking that "Manhattan" was too much of a mouthful. Others joked it was fortunate the romance wasn't in Peckham.

It's a fact that people with unusual names are more likely to turn up in psychological clinics
Linda Blair
Dilemma doctor
Plenty of other famous examples of real name-place names abound. Chelsea, the daughter of Bill and Hillary, was reportedly named after one of her parents' favourite songs, Joni Mitchell's Chelsea Morning. Others claim the reason is the Clintons' affection for the affluent district of London.

Another famous daughter, Lourdes Ciccone Leon, was named after the French shrine revered by Roman Catholics. "Every time I look into her eyes, I feel healed," Madonna once said. And footballer Rio Ferdinand was named by his father after the Rio Grande.

Linda Blair, the dilemma doctor for Psychologies magazine, says although place names are quite new, there has been a long tradition of people giving names that have some sort of historical meaning for them, like a mother's maiden name in the US or a king's name for British aristocracy.

"Expectations are built into names but how you express them is reasonably new. We're all copying the stars and for a while it was fruit, like Apple and Peaches, then flowers.

Britney pregnant
Is Britney a snooker fan?
"If it's a trend it's not going to be a problem for the kid. It's a fact that people with unusual names are more likely to turn up in psychological clinics but if the unusual becomes ordinary there's no problem."

Sienna Miller is once removed from the picturesque Italian city which bears her name, having gained an extra 'n'. But some names have become common enough to be disassociated from the places, like Lorraine and Tyrone.

Paris - think Hilton, think Hilton's ex-boyfriend - is a name far older than the French capital. It is originally Greek and its most famous example was the Prince of Troy in Homer's Iliad.

The use of place names has been quietly growing but some are used unwittingly, says Professor Helen Petrie of City University, such as the American fondness for Shannon with no knowledge of the Irish river. But the trend is driven by celebrities.

"People like Britney just want to get noticed and want to pick an unusual name to make them stand out, which is different from what the rest of the population want," she says. "But people emulate their celebrities so I'm sure we'll get a rash of Prestons."

Undoubtedly. Preston is, after all, the hometown of England's newest hero, cricketer Andrew Flintoff.


Thanks for your comments. The debate is now closed.

I don't live in Boston, I've never been to Boston yet I'm named after the city. My parents have so far refused to confirm whether it was because I was conceived there but I'm not sure I want to know any way.
Boston Green, USA

My mother Demelza has very strong Cornish roots and couldn't think beyond our glorious county when it came to naming me as a baby. Unfortunately I have since been saddled with the nickname Pastie ever since. My round face with pale skin didn't help though!
Cornish "Pastie" Payne, Tintagel, Cornwall

My son, Derry, is named after the Glen in Scotland. I think he finds it annoying having to repeat it and spell it every time he is introduced to someone. It seems Americans cant say Derry, they insist on saying Dairy so he is now known as 'milky', (aaaargh). Middle name is Mclaren, his fathers Clan name.
stephanie , Tampa, FL (originally from Aberdeenshire)

Although I share my name with the Manx capital, I wasn't conceived there. I don't think either of my parents have ever been to the Isle of Man. I know my name has Celtic origins but I don't know which came first, the city or the name.
Douglas , UK

All the females in our family are named after Almeida, the walled town in Portugal near where our family originate from. I have it as my first name, but as lot of my cousins have it as their middle name. I have made it quite clear to my family I am not passing it on to my kids.
Almeida, UK

I am friends with a vicar who was once asked to christen a child with the name 'klorine.' He asked if they were keen swimmers, but apparently they just looked very puzzled.
Kathryn Campbell, Berks

We named our daughter India after reading an article by India Hicks - it wasn't anything to do with the country, we just liked the name! And thankfully she likes the fact that she has a slightly different name.
Jo, Norwich, UK

And Britney is presumably a version of Brittany...
Carmel Swann, UK

There are four Prestons on our swim team, it is a very common name in Texas. You might have thought it strange to have a name like Jesus also, but we have way too many of those in Houston.. Now Arthur and Doris are strange names here.... it depends on where you live.
cathy hollowell, usa

As soon as I arrived in England from Canada for a year abroad, all I ever heard was "Oh, like Devonshire?" No one here at home had ever said that one to me before so I had to check my atlas. My parents honestly just liked the sound of the word, and I have always enjoyed my "different" name.... plus, the county is lovely so I don't much mind the association!
Devin, Canada

With this surname, Preston Comma was indeed a tempting choice for my son. Later in life he'll thank me for bottling out.
John Lancashire, Reading, UK

Constantia ... I've been told many a time by South African travellers that 'Constantia' also happens to be a lovely and affluent suburb in SA!
Constantia, UK

My parents chose my name after honeymooning in Ireland. With that in mind, it has a sentimental feeling about it and I wouldn't change it for the world. That said, if I had been called Bognor I might have felt differently......
Kerry, UK

Rudyard Kipling was named after the lake where his parents spent their honeymoon
m shephard, england

I think it is a wonderful idea to name your child after the place of conception, it will always bring back memories. I'm glad my parents were ahead of their time.
Droitwich-Travellodge Braithwaite (jnr), England

I was bullied as a child because of my name but later in my life came to love it and feel unique, and no Posh wasn't the first to do this! I am 69 this April
Liverpool Hardt, UK

Lourdes is a very common name in Spain especially among Catholic families. I was named after Our Lady of Lourdes 46 years ago but now answer to Malu as not many can actually pronounce my name! Madonna isn't as original as media commentators make out!!
Maria de Lourdes Medhurst, England (ex-Gibraltar)

"Preston" is not an unusual or uncommon name in the states. Try googling for "Preston Smith" for example.
david liney, UK

I used to hate my name as a kid, but now I've got used to it. I like the fact it's very different. Apparently there are 123 other Denvers in the UK. Hello to you if you're reading this :-)
Denver Lawton, UK

My wife and I named our daughter after the Franz-Josef Glacier in New Zealand's South Island. We climbed the glacier on our last visit before she was born. Obviously we needed to make it a girl's name, so she is Francesca Josephine
Paul, UK

For some strange reason I've been named Rochelle. Whenever I meet French people they laugh at me - I will never forgive the family for naming me after a French fishing port!
Rochelle, England

A sense of place is very important in Wales, therefore names like Gwent, Gwynedd, Mon, Teifi, Meirion, Maldwyn, Aeron, Menai are very popular first or middle names in Welsh. Similarly, names from nature are extremely common in Wales - Heulwen (Sunshine), Seren (Star), Llinos (Finch), Awel (Breeze), Haf (Summer) are as popular as names such as Holly, May, June and Jasmine are in English. So, the strangeness or otherwise of calling children after place names perhaps depends on where you come from.
Catrin, Aberystwyth, Wales

My new niece has been named Siena after the Italian town. People have already asked 'Oh, after Sienna Miller?'. There are bound to be comparisons, especially with the famous one being in the news so much recently.
Sproutie, Basingstoke, UK

Trust me, it's not a good idea!
Peterloo Agincourt Kempton, Wales

I wasn't named after the place, and rarely associate it as a place name, but living in France often the only way for many French to recognise the name is to refer to Beverly Hills, (even though the English town is the correct spelling of my name.)
Beverley Phillips, France

My middle name's Indiana, I was actually born in Ohio but mum didn't like it as a name. It's a talking point but people humming the film tune really get on my nerves.
Rachael, England

Perhaps she's a fan of Nick Park, and has named her child after the cyber-dog in "The Wrong Trousers"
David Harper, England




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