Baby Boy Chelsea, Brother to Eleanor (Ellie)

Hi Swistle,

We are (unexpectedly) expecting our second child, a boy. Our last name sounds like Chelsea. In the past, we’ve held to some (ahem) convoluted naming requirements, but we picked our daughter’s name easily—Eleanor (nn Ellie) Jane Lee Chelsea. We are leaning heavily towards naming the baby after Husband’s deceased father, David.

So, here is the dilemma. I have four names (first, second, and two last names that are not hyphenated). Husband has four names (First, two middle names, last name). Daughter has four names, as shown above. If we name the baby after his father (David), and we honor my beloved grandfather by using his middle name (Leo), then the baby’s name is David Leo Chelsea, which is almost exactly his father’s name (David Lee Chelsea). I like the name! I like it quite a bit! It honors people both very special to us that we miss terribly! I find it really pleasing and it makes me happy!

But it bugs me that we would all have four names, and this baby would only have three. But Husband is insistent that If the first name is David, then the second name is Leo, and that’s where we stop. It also bugs Husband that David is a perpetually popular name. I have a name that was in the top 20 the year I was born and I cannot move without tripping over people my age with my name. It can be a bit annoying at times, or at least, it was in school.

The other thing that slightly bothers me about David Leo is that we gave our daughter her first name precisely because it was her own name. No one in our family has the name Eleanor; it’s all hers. The middle names are family names. Plus, we picked Eleanor because of a historical reference (Eleanor of Aquitaine) and a sci-fi reference (Dr. Ellie Arroway, Contact). But David is obviously a special name, so this baby would not get his “own” first name. It all just feels very much like we are changing the rules, and if there’s anything I like, it’s a rule.

Oh, the last thing that bothers me a bit about David is that my family are habitual nickname givers, and no, it’s not a battle I am interested in fighting. It’s a family quirk and leave it at that. They will tack an –e sound on to a name for a nickname, every time, so David becomes Davey, which I do not like.

As much as we like the name, David Leo is not set in stone, hence us fretting to you. We are considering using my grandfather’s first name, Bernard (nn Ben), and then David would be a middle name. BUT, that still gets at my problem of not having his “own” name for a first name. Added to that, then I feel guilty for not just using David as the first name, because if we’re going to have an honor name as a first name, then I really feel like it should be Husband’s father. On the other hand, if the first name is Bernard, then I probably get my wish of four names, and it would be Bernard David ??? Chelsea, which pleases my pattern loving soul.

THEN, my husband threw out the other day that he loves the name Harrison, in honor of the clockmaker, John Harrison, who solved the problem of calculating longitude at sea. So, it would be Harrison David ??? Chelsea. I really like Harrison, because it has the historical reference and a nod to a sci-fi reference. But does that make everyone think of Harrison Ford? Plus, I still feel guilty for not using David as a first name in this scenario; that’s how close Husband and his father were.

Bonus: our daughter is insisting on the names Edgar or Isaac. So: Is David Leo okay when that means this kid has three names and the rest of us have four? Is it weird that David Leo is SO CLOSE to my deceased but beloved father in law’s name? Is David way too popular? Is this kid going to feel left out that he didn’t get his own name and got an honor name instead? Is there another name that’s just a better fit?

This is needlessly complicated. Help us, Swistle, you’re our only hope.


This is the kind of situation where I KNOW it doesn’t really matter, and I want to TELL you it doesn’t really matter—but I CAN’T, because it would matter to me TOO.

I generally don’t even care what the parents’ names are doing, when considering their kids’ names. But in this case…well, I find I want you to give him four names. I just do. I don’t think you NEED to. I don’t think you should feel as if you HAVE to. But I want you to, and I think you want to too, so I say let’s see what we can figure out.

Here’s where I figure we can start chipping away at the problem: “But Husband is insistent that If the first name is David, then the second name is Leo, and that’s where we stop.” Solution: first name will not be David. That releases us immediately from that difficult if/then. Alternate solution: he stops insisting on the if/then. It’s an unnecessary rule, and it’s causing problems. But since it bothers both you and your husband that the name David is so steadily popular, I think it makes more sense to go with the first solution. If instead he is firm on David being the first name, then I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t give a little on the issue of two middles.

Also, it bothers you that you deliberately decided against family names for your daughter’s first name, but this time would be reversing yourselves. I don’t think you NEED to be consistent with this, but since you seem to WANT to, I’d go with that flow: I’d make David and Leo the middle names and pick something else for the first name.

Also, the nicknames for David bother you. And you are not sure you like the name being so close to your late father-in-law’s name. Really the only argument I’m seeing here in favor of using three names is that your husband was very close to his late father. I release you from feeling that this must be symbolically represented in your son’s first name. It isn’t necessary: the closeness abides, regardless of your son’s name.

Harrison David Leo Chelsea is the perfect name to go with Eleanor Jane Lee Chelsea. I declare it so. Or, if you prefer, you can think of something you like better than Harrison. Isaac is nice, with the science (Isaac Newton) and science fiction (Isaac Asimov).




Name update:

Hi Swistle!

We had our little boy this past weekend: Josiah David Leo Chelsea. We call him Joss for short, and he seems very happy to be here. Thank you for your help–it helped us get on the path to his name!

35 thoughts on “Baby Boy Chelsea, Brother to Eleanor (Ellie)

  1. April

    Swistle, you nailed it again! I too love rules, and I think that this baby should get 4 names. Harrison, Isaac, and Edgar are all great choices with the middle names David Leo.

  2. Rachel

    The whole time I was wondering why it wouldn’t just be _________ David Leo Chelsea. Seems like a no brainer. Harrison has my vote for the first name, btw.

  3. Renee

    Yes, I was thinking I’m missing something, because using David Leo as the middles seems like the perfect solution? If the only roadblock is your husband’s insistence, I’d decide which is more important – his insistence (based on what?) or your need to have balance among all of your family members’ names. I assume the children have his surname. So David and Chelsea are ‘his’, Leo is yours. I’d say you ‘get’ your first name as belonging only to the child (and he also seems to like the name???) so Harrison David Leo Chelsea it is. You’re all ‘winning.’ Eleanor and Harrison, Ellie and Harris are so wonderful!

    (I also love your daughter’s suggestions!! Ike would be super cute too. Edgar might be too much with an Ellie and Eddie.)

  4. Patricia

    Regarding your concerns with a son David being called “Davy” : I have an 11 year old grandson named David. His father (our second son) is named John David after my husband David. When David was born John (who was called Johnny as a child) asked that his son not be called Davy or Dave. That’s never been a problem within our large family, where we have grandsons Joseph and William called Joey and Will and also grandsons Christopher and Alexander called by their full names. I would hope your family would respect that you want him called by his full name only, and even if some do call him Davy, *you* don’t have to follow suit.

    Regarding popularity of the name David, much has written, including by Swiistle, showing that the most popular names today are not given to the huge percentages of babies who were given the names a generation or more ago. in 2015 David ranked at #18 *nationally*: of all baby boys born in 2015, 0.58% were called David. Thirty years earlier, the boys name that ranked at #18 was given to 1.20% of boys born in 1985, slight more than double the number who were given the #18 name in 2015. Too, if you check your state stats on the SSA baby name website, you may find David ranks much lower in your state than it does nationally. For 2015 David was #42 in my midwestern state, and had the same rank of #42 in the East Coast state were my grandson David lives. (On the other hand, Eleanor ranked #31 in my state in 2015.)

    For me, a strong family connection, like using the name of your husband’s deceased father, would be far more significant than giving your child the name of some random famous person. I think your son would be proud to share his paternal grandfather’s name, just as our grandson David is.

    David Harrison Leo Chelsea (or something similar) would fulfill your preference for giving him four names. Eleanor and David are an excellent sib set, with both Eleanor and David being classic names. (If you want to match their names even further, you could name the little brother of
    Eleanor Jane Lee Chelsea,
    David James Leo Chelsea

    No matter what his middle names are and in what order, I’d keep the name David as his first name. It’s just too special to your husband to include as a middle name that is rarely spoken.

  5. Kelsey D

    What swistle said.

    I feel like this is a case of you love the idea of using David as a first name but you don’t love the name. We were in the same boat a while ago. I so badly wanted to use my mother’s maiden name as a first name. I loved the idea of it, could imagine surprising my family when introducing our new boy… but I just didn’t love the name enough to use it as a first name. We used it as a middle name and am so happy we did. Both my husband and I love his name and his full name still feels so special to me.

    If you do love David but worry about not finding his own name like you did with Eleanor, I’d say throw out that notion. You can say, we loved the name David and it was an added bonus that your grandfather’s name was David so we got to honor him plus use our favourite name.

    All my kiddos have four names, two middle names, and I would feel odd if we had given our last kid only three. In your case, you potentially have a really easy solution. ______(favorite name) David Leo Chelsea.
    I even love the loook of them together.

    Eleanor Jane Lee Chelsea
    ______ David Leo Chelsea

    If Harrison is both your favourite name, then I think that is a fine name! Ellie and Harris.

    I actually love your daughters suggestion of Edgar. Like love it!! Bernard is a solid name, is nice that it ties to family, and I actually love the sound of Eleanor and Bernard together.

    Either way, I’d say go with your heart and what you all love. If you love David use it! If you love the idea of it but maybe not the actual name, use it as a middle name. I’d be worried about resenting the name if I ended up using it because I thought it was the right thing to do vs. loving it.

    Good luck and update us!

  6. StephLove

    Like many, I’m not sure why David Leo has to stand alone. I think Harrison David Leo is a great solution, but Bernard David Leo would work, too. Do you like Harry or Benny better than Davey?

  7. Patricia

    PS I reread your letter and it’s obvious that you and your husband REALLY WANT to name this baby David Leo:

    “We are leaning heavily towards naming the baby after Husband’s deceased father, David.”

    “I like the name! I like it quite a bit! It honors people both very special to us that we miss terribly! I find it really pleasing and it makes me happy!”

    “Added to that, then I feel guilty for not just using David as the first name, because if we’re going to have an honor name as a first name, then I really feel like it should be Husband’s father.”

    ” I still feel guilty for not using David as a first name in this scenario; that’s how close Husband and his father were.”

    Forget about your self-imposed “rules”. Go with your heart and your husband’s. Your letter makes it clear that you both really like the name David, especially to honor your “beloved father in law” and objectively like the name David itself, and really want to call this baby David Leo. DO IT! You couldn’t give this baby/boy/man a more special name. (David Leo is fine as it is and only a coincidence that it’s close to David Lee, but add a second middle name if that means a lot to you — Grandpa Bernard’s name, Ellie’s suggestion of Edgar or Isaac, the clockmaker Mr. Harrison, whatever you like best.) But stick with the name that has felt RIGHT all along for THIS baby. I don’t think you’ll ever regret naming your son David Leo.

    Best wishes!

  8. Sargjo

    I don’t thinking Harrison Ford when I hear Harrison. I think family name or…Rex Harrison the actor. And then when I think of him I think of My Fair Lady and it’s awesome. I love Harrison David Leo. And Harry as a nickname? Come on, the best!! Ellie and Harry?!?! Love. Or Hal? Another sci-for reference? Love.

  9. phancymama

    Harrison David Leo or Isaac David Leo are perfect. It does not dilute an honor name to be in the middle. On a practical level, having almost the exact same name as his deceased grandfather can lead to various mixups and confusion.
    Furthermore, it feels like it sets up a very different standard for son/daughter and that can be a tough thing to grow up with.

    1. sandra

      My husband was named exactly the same name as his paternal grandfather and uncle and we named our first son the same….there was very rarely any confusion because they shared a name….we called our son Little Joe, and his dad was Big Joe the other 2 were uncle and grandad. Even now (son is 30) when talking about them we reference them as this; although husband is sometimes called Poppa Joe now he’s the grandad. It has never been a problem except when husbands best friend -Joe- and my sister -Jo – are here as well :)

      1. Phancymama

        I’m talking more about computer/database/non-friends and family issues. It’s anecdata, but my brother, Dad, and granddad all have the same first and last but do not share a middle initial, and there have been multiple instances when things get tangled up. Even 20 years after granddad died. It’s just something for OP to consider.

  10. liz

    I’m with Swistle on this. ______ David Leo Chelsea. I love love love Harrison in the first spot. Or Isaac. Or Edgar. Or Bernard. Or what about Hugo (for Hugo Gernsback) Or Arthur (for Arthur C. Clarke), or Robert (for Heinlein)?

  11. Reagan

    First to directly answer your questions:

    Is David Leo okay when that means this kid has three names and the rest of us have four?
    It is okay but not ideal.

    Is it weird that David Leo is SO CLOSE to my deceased but beloved father in law’s name?
    No sure why anyone would think that is weird. Children are named the same as parents and grandparents all the time. That is how we get juniors and thirds, etc.

    Is David way too popular?
    I would say David is common but not two popular. It is one of those timeless classics.

    Is this kid going to feel left out that he didn’t get his own name and got an honor name instead?
    I doubt he will really care one way or another about it unless you make a big deal of it.

    Is there another name that’s just a better fit?
    Possibly…probably. But only you and your husband can decide that.

    But does that make everyone think of Harrison Ford?
    I love Harrison David Leo Chelsea and agree with Swistle that it is fantastic with your daughters name. I know several Harrison’s so I don’t think of Harrison Ford immediately

    Because I really like both David and Harrison as first names, I would let my husband decide what name to use as the first name if I were in your shoes. If he is okay using David as a middle name and feels that shows sufficient respect to his father, fine. If he really wants to use David as a first name, I would stop worrying about 4 names and start think about other possible nicknames (DL, Leo, ?).

    If your really would like to use Harrison, I would rejoice in the symmetry with my older daughters name (4 names, history, sci fi).

  12. Emily

    Just had to chime in, since my two boys are named David and Leo. Haha. David has surprised me by being very UNcommon…I have met…one?…under the age of 18. Leo, on the other hand, ranked much higher when we named him, but feels much trendier. I have met several, all young.

    I am a big sucker for family names, and a beloved and deceased father (and FIL) is a great namesake. I would do David Leo Harrison Chelsea. Although I think David Leo Chelsea sounds better, personally, and it seems odd to arbitrarily stick in another name just to match. ( I admit Harrison David Leo sounds a little better. And Eleanor and Harrison sounds very presidential.)

    P.S. I love Davey. :) It is too cute on a toddler, let me tell you!

  13. Dances with diapers

    Harrison David Leo is very handsome. And in case you’re not a fan of Harry (which I think is adorable) and are still concerned about your family nicknaming him, Sonny is another great option. I will add though, if this baby is David in your heart, it’s really not very common these days. So don’t let that concern hold you back. Good luck!!

  14. TheFirstA

    David has too many problems, so it simply shouldn’t be the first name. Moving it to a middle solves the issues & is more consistent with your daughter’s name. I don’t think the names need to be consistent, but you seem to want them to be & David has it’s own problems. So, it seems the easiest solution is simply to move David to the middle.

    Leo or Bernard could both work as the 2nd middle. I lean slightly more towards Bernard, simply because Leo is so similar to both your daughter’s & husband’s middle name. In husband’s case it’s less of an issue. In daughter’s case, I’m slightly more bothered because I like for sibling names to be distinct. However, this is simply my preference. So, if you like Leo better, or feel like Leo is a more direct honor name, use Leo.

    Harrison does not automatically make me think of Ford. And even it it did, I don’t think that’s an issue. What kid wouldn’t want a name that invokes Indiana Jones & Han Solo? The cool factor is there & the name perfectly fits with current naming trends. Also, Harry is an awesome nickname-since your family is into that.

    I am not against letting kids help pick names for younger siblings. I was allowed to pick a first name for my much-younger sister (parents had veto power of course). And the names your daughter has suggested are both fine. But do you like them? If you do, then I think the goal should be to decide which you like better as a first name, Harrison, Edgar or Isaac. If Edgar & Isaac don’t excite you, don’t put them in the running.

    So, my vote would be Harrison David Bernard or Harrison David Leo, unless Edgar or Isaac excite you more than Harrison.

  15. Kay W.

    I’m with Swistle on this!

    Not sure if others have pointed this out, but I will share the one drawback I see with Harrison Chelsea. If your surname is indeed very close to Chelsea, which is a common girls’ name, your son will likely often find people assuming the names are reversed, ie that he is someone named Chelsea Harrison. This happens repeatedly to a couple of people I know and have worked with. It’s up to you if it’s a dealbreaker! Since David can also be a last name, there’s no guarantee it would stop it from happening either. Only resolutely first name-names can avoid it, like Liam or biblical names like Ezra, Elijah, Noah– names that are definitely never or only very rarely surnames.

    That said, it’s a lovely name!

    1. OP

      Ugh, you’re right. People frequently call me Chelsea, mistaking it for my first name when it’s my last name. Forgot about that quirk!

      1. Kay W.

        Yeah it’s a bummer. :( I know a man whose name is very close to something like “Walker Dana.” It’s actually a really elegant and memorable name (as is Harrison C—-!) but the first name/last name reversals are endless.

    2. t. s.

      My maiden name is Beverly and my father spent the first few days of high school in the girl’s gym class. Of course, being a high school boy, he didn’t mind too terribly, but it is still something to think about. I will say though, that there are so many more unisex (and unique) names out there now that I think the places that matter–dr’s offices, schools, etc. pay a little more attention to all the boxes on the forms these days.

  16. Clare

    If you do use David Leo could you put your maiden name/surname as his second middle name? That’s what we do in our family (and I think Swistle has done in hers) and I really like that my surname is part of my son’s name and that my mother’s name is part of my name.

    I also think that you’ll find that David is quite a refreshing choice these days, I think Leo would be far more popular. I don’t know any young children called David but plenty named Leo. Dai is the Welsh version of David if you prefer that as a nickname.

    Finally, I don’t think of Harrison Ford when I hear Harrison. It’s pretty well established as a name. I’d be more likely to think of George Harrison which is a nicer namesake in my mind.

  17. Deborah

    1. Harrison David Leo Chelsea is a great name.
    2. I also really like Isaac David Leo, Isaac David Bernard or Harrison David Bernard.
    3. The honor for DH’s father isn’t any less meaningful in the middle slot.
    4. You could also consider Benjamin David Leo, which would nod to Bernard but give your son his own name. Also Ben Franklin and many other notable Benjamins give it a historic factor like Eleanor.
    5. I love patterns, so I would try to stick to the 4 name thing. But if you don’t your kid won’t be any worse off.

  18. Jd

    I think David is great. Why not David Leo Bernard? Or David Leo Maidenname? Honor names are special and deserve to be used even if common. I think Harrison David Leo is also fab.
    I would insist on 4 names and let your husband decide if he wants David to be his sons first name or middle. Then go from there- find another middle
    For David Leo or pick a first name with David Leo as the middle. Easy Peasy.

  19. Kim

    Harrison David Leo fits your pattern perfectly. Inthink this is a case of details getting in the way. Your husband isn’t certain about the popularity of David ( I know absolutely *no* Davids under the age of ten, but there you go*). He suggested Harrison, and it has that science vibe to it. In my view, if it is your husband’s relationship that you’re primarily honoring, using it in the middle only demotes that if he feels that way.
    And I hear you placing real value on the idea of a unique name and identity, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. It’s just as valid a naming criteria as an honor name, IMHO. It feels like a perfect fit for your family.
    *It occurs to me that the ranks show us name placement, not usage …

  20. Ashley

    I just want to comment that although David may in fact be a common name in the sense that it has maintained a general level of popularity for years, I never hear it on young children. I have two preschool-age children and my job takes me to multiple new schools each week, so I am around a ton of children. And I can’t think of any named David, pronounced with the English pronunciation I assume you’re using. I suppose it could be popular in some communities, but here where I live (major east coast city) I have literally not heard it once in the past five years.
    I do hear the Daveed (Spanish) pronunciation occasionally, but even that is rare.

    1. hystcklght3

      agreed! I put “David” in the “hidden in plain sight” category … I very rarely hear it, especially on anyone under 30.

  21. sandra

    Harrison David Leo is delightful. only concern would be if you are against nicknames in general or just not keen on Davey? Harrison is guaranteed to be abbreviated to Harry..although in saying that I do know one Harrison who is ALWAYS called by his full name.

  22. Jesabes

    I don’t think you should use a name out of guilt. As Swistle said, not giving your child the first name David doesn’t diminish your husband’s love for his father. Harrison David Leo is perfect!

  23. sbc

    Maybe do David Lee O____ Chelsea with O___ being Oliver, Oscar, etc.

    Then you get “David Leo” and four names!

  24. Kelsey D

    Or if you choose David as first name and are wanting four names:

    1) David Leo (your maiden name) Chelsea
    2) David Leo (name chosen by daughter) Chelsea, such as David Leo Edgar Chelsea
    3) David Leo (other family member to honor) Chelsea

  25. Kim C

    I think David is a great name and, as common as it seems, you don’t hear it on school age children much anymore.

    We do know one, a family friend’s child, and he is only nine years old. He also doesn’t know any others at school. His nickname is Davo!

    My children are adults in their early twenties now and, unbelievably, they don’t know any in their age group. I knew quite a few when I was at school.

    David Leo Isaac or David Harrison Leo both sound great to me!

    Good luck!


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