Boy Baby Name


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Quick Facts on William

  • Gender:
  • Boy
  • Origin:
  • English, French, German
  • Number of syllables:
  • 2
  • Ranking popularity:
  • 5
WIL-yem, sometimes WIL-ee-im
Simple meaning:
Valiant protector

Characteristics of William

  • Mystical
  • Wise
  • Eccentric
  • Intuitive
  • Imaginative
  • Philosophical
  • Solitary

Etymology & Historical Origin - William

William is an Old French name of Germanic origin. The name is derived from the Germanic word “wil” which translates to “will, desire” added to “helm” which means “helmet, protection.” Put them together, you’ve got a desire for protection; thus, the name William has come to stand for a valiant protector. William is by far the most successful and enduring of all the Old French names of Germanic origin. The name William was brought to England by way of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Ironically, the leader of the pack was none other than William, Duke of Normandy (also known as William the Conqueror). As go the spoils of war, he was later crowned William I, King of England after his successful Anglo-Saxon butt-kicking. Not only did William's invasion and subsequent reign carry Norman-French culture to England, but it also brought about an almost immediate impact to the English language and an abrupt shift in naming practices. Gone were the days of names like Drogo, Aethelred and Radulf. The defeated Anglo-Saxons wanted to assimilate. Very quickly, the name William hit the charts where it has stayed for almost a millennium. William is a particular favorite among parents Down Under, because it’s currently the #1 ranked boy’s name in Australia. It is also the #1 most favored in Sweden and Denmark and #2 in Norway. Americans place William in third place, and England in seventh. William is also high ranking in Canada, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. The stamina and endurance of William’s appeal is nothing short of extraordinary. A true classic.

Popularity of the Name William

The name William is a classic that truly transcends the progression of time and ever-shifting fashions of the day. Dating back to the 1880’s (which is as far back as the U.S. government has tracked naming trends), William persisted every year in maintaining a position on the Top 10 list of most commonly used boy names in America; except only for a brief spell in the 1990’s when it hovered closer to the #20 spot. It’s a tried-and-true name that has been associated with many great men from the past, from kings to poets, and its classical appeal gives it a distinguished sense of importance. The enduring popularity of the name probably owes some of its staying power to its flexibility. There are many pet forms of the name, including Bill, Billy, Will and Willie, which provide alternate choices throughout one’s lifespan. Even though this name has maintained a top spot on the U.S. popularity charts, William still stands alone and distinctive. He rises above trendiness and obnoxious overuse. William is a timeless classic. Plain and simple.
Popularity of the Boy Name William
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Cultural References to the Baby Name - William

  • Literary Characters of the baby name William

    Literary Characters of the Baby Name William

    William Collins (Pride and Prejudice) William Collins is a most wonderfully drawn character in Jane Austen’s 1813 classic, Pride and Prejudice. He is a pompous, obsequious clergyman who has the great fortune of inheriting the Bennet estate by virtue of being the only male relative. With great condescension, he proposes marriage to Elizabeth Bennet (having ascertained that her sister, Jane, is not available). Blithely assuming the priceless nature of his offer, he is astounded when he is turned down. After all, his great patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, has advised him to marry! How could anyone turn down such a recommendation?! Mr. Collins doesn’t waste any time; he quickly asks for and receives the hand of Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth’s friend. So entranced is he with his social standing by association, William Collins is a classic snob, without any entitlement to being one. As Mr. Bennet so aptly describes him, he is, in a word, “absurd”. Sorry – no redeeming qualities for this William, except the best of all – he makes us laugh.

    William Hastings (Atlas Shrugged) William Hastings is an “offstage” character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, first published in the United States in 1957. He has died before the period the novel begins, but his influence is felt throughout. We hear about him mainly through his widow, who describes him as a good and sincere man. William Hastings was a design engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, but quits the company after its founder dies and his children take over, instituting a Marxian model for the company – “from each, according to his ability, to each, according to his need”. He had been John Galt’s boss and was invited by Galt to join the great strike he organized. William takes a good year to decide whether or not to join the strike, concerned over the potential harm to his wife it might entail. When he does, it is not long before he dies of a heart ailment. In a novel full of larger-than-life characters who spout philosophical declarations at every turn, William is a refreshingly unassuming person who follows his moral code through to the end.

  • Popular Songs on William

    Popular Songs on William

    Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now) - a song by Van Halen

    Little Sir William - a song by Sarah Brightman

    William, It Was Really Nothing - a song by The Smiths

  • Children's Books on the Baby Name William

    Children's Books on the Baby Name William

    A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams (Jen Bryant) - When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willies notebooks filled up, one after another. Willies words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So he went off to medical school and became a doctor - one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry. In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryants engaging prose and Melissa Sweets stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet. Recommended for ages 7-11.

    A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (Nancy Willard) - Inspired by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, this delightful collection of poetry for children brings to life Blake’s imaginary inn and its unusual guests. Recommended for ages 4-8.

    Has Anyone Here Seen William? (Bob Graham) - This is a delightful tale of a small child who is always somewhere he shouldn't be! What a merry dance William leads his family! When he's supposed to be indoors, he's out in the garden munching daffodils; on the family picnic, he ends up in a muddy pond feeding the ducks. But it's on William's second birthday that his vanishing act reaches its peak of perfection, with quite hilarious results! Recommended for ages 4-8.

    The World of William Penn (Genevieve Foster) - Continuing her unique approach to "horizontal history", Genevieve Foster explores the wide world of William Penn - a world reaching across the courtyards of the Sun King to the Great Wall of China. Penn's contemporaries included such colorful figures as Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Edmund Halley, Sir Issac Newton, Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal), and the great explorers Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle. Penn's life spans a fascinating age of exploration and discovery. Penn's Quaker beliefs helped his relationships with the Pennsylvanian tribes and established the longest standing peace treaty between American Indians and European settlers. Recommended for ages 8-12.

    Who Was William Shakespeare? (Celeste Mannis) - The beloved plays of Shakespeare are still produced everywhere, yet the life of the world's most famous playwright remains largely a mystery. Young Will left the town of Stratford to pursue theater in London, where his work eventually thrived and made him a famous and wealthy man. With black-and-white illustrations that include a diagram of the famous Globe Theater, Celeste Davidson Mannis puts together the pieces of Shakespeare's life and work for young readers. Recommended for ages 7-10.

    William's Dinosaurs (Alan Baker) - At the end of William's garden is a dark, dark wood. But is it only trees that tower over William as he walks there? Or are there dinosaurs hiding in the shade? Join William on another incredible adventure! Recommended for ages 4-8.

    William's Doll (Charlotte Zolotow) - The School Library Journal says: “An excellent book about a boy named William who wants the forbidden -- a doll. The long-awaited realistic handling of this theme makes it a landmark book." Recommended for ages 4-8.

  • Famous People Named William

    Famous People Named William

    Famous People Named William - Prince William of England (2nd in line to the English throne); William the Conqueror (King of England); William II of England (king); William III of England (king); William IV of England (king); William Jefferson Clinton (U.S. President); William Harrison (U.S. President); William McKinley (U.S. President); William Taft (U.S. President); William Baldwin (actor); William Bonney (aka ''Billy the Kid''); William Clark (explorer); William Cody (aka ''Buffalo Bill''); William Faulkner (Nobel Prize winning author); William Golding (Nobel Prize winning author); William Randolph Hearst (tycoon); William Macy (actor); William Shatner (actor); William Shakespeare (playwright); William Blake (poet); William Butler Yeats (poet); William Wordsworth (poet); William Carlos William (poet); William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania); William Tell (folk hero); William Wallace (Scottish hero)

  • Children of Famous People Named William

    Children of Famous People Named William

    Famous People who Named their Son William - Abraham Lincoln (U.S. President); Adrienne Barbeau (actress); Billy Bob Thornton (actor); Billy Crudup (actor); Brad Paisley (country musician); Burt Lancaster (actor); Chester A. Arthur (U.S. President); Christopher Reeve (actor); Colin Firth (actor); Elizabeth Montgomery (actress); Glen Campbell (big band leader); Kimberly Williams (actress); Kirstie Alley (actress); Mary-Louise Parker (actress); Meg Tilly (actress); Mel Gibson (actor); Phylicia Rashad (actress); Prince Charles (royalty); Princess Diana (royalty); Robin Givens (actress); Veronica Lake (actress); William Harrison (U.S. President); William Hurt (actor); William Randolph Hearst (tycoon)

  • Historic Figures

    William - Boy Baby Name - Historic Figures

    Prince William of England (21 Jun 1982 - Present) - What is there to say about William Arthur Philip Louis, Duke of Cambridge, heir to the throne of the Commonwealth of Great Britain, that hasn’t been said before? Just about nothing, so we won’t really try. Born to royalty, bred for the throne, educated, trained, cosseted and adored, he has just put the icing on the cake by marrying his beautiful duchess, Catherine. Of course, money, fame, good looks and breeding aren’t everything – only about 99.9% of the package. For starters, just watch that receding hairline, and let’s see where that takes him in the game of life! And secondly, the family nickname for him is: “Wombat”. Thirdly, it would appear that good Queen Elizabeth is determined to rule forever, and he may be resigned to many years of ribbon cutting. These are three serious strikes, we’d say, so we wish him the best.

    William “Billy the Kid” Bonney (23 Nov 1859 – 14 Jul 1881) - Billy the Kid was the notorious 19th century outlaw in the Old West, about whom more legend than fact has been cultivated. Born William Henry McCarty, he also answered to Henry Antrim, and settled, finally, on William Bonney. He exited the world 21 short years later, but left behind a highly romanticized and exaggerated version of his life for generations to come. Eyewitness accounts called him “personable”, “lithe”, and a “neat dresser”, but the only known photographic image of him tells a different story. At the risk of being unkind, let’s just say he didn’t look like someone the ladies would swoon over, but then again, the ladies are often off-track in that department. Handsome or not, he must have had a temper, because he took out about 20 men in his day (so they say), for various reasons. Starting with petty theft in his teens, William graduated to cattle rustling and local warfare of opposing gangs. He escaped from prison more than once, killing the pesky guard or two, but was finally hunted down and ambushed (his supporters say) by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who shot him to death. Perhaps the most interesting fact about his life is that the man who put a bounty on the Kid’s head was the governor of New Mexico, Lew Wallace, who wrote Ben Hur. Now that was a good movie.

    William Blake (28 Nov1757 - 12 Aug 1827) - William Blake is most notable as one of the influential poets from the Romantic Era during 18th century Europe. It was mainly an artistic and intellectual movement that sought to revolt against the socio-political rules of the day controlled mainly by the aristocracy. Blake is best known for his collection of poems “Songs of Innocence” (1789) followed by “Songs of Experience” five years later. “Innocence” is drawn from the perspective of a young child and through the eyes of innocence and wonderment, while “Experience” contrasts the poems of “Innocence” as the child grows older and learns doubt and fear.

    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) - William Butler Yeats was one of the most important poets and playwrights of the twentieth century, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. He was also responsible for a resurgence in Irish literature and was a founding member of the Abbey Theatre. He was a life-long dabbler in the occult, and loved all things mystical and paranormal, an interest that is apparent in his poetry. Born to privilege, William Butler Yeats was a long-time Irish nationalist who deplored the insistence of the Catholic Church on primacy in the land. He served in the Irish senate for two terms. A painting of him at age forty-three by John Singer Sargent shows a strikingly youthful and handsome man, and we believe he took full advantage of the fact. Though married only once, he conducted numerous affairs throughout his life, including one with the actress/feminist, Maud Gonne. This behavior continued well into his old age, due to his having had the “Steinach” operation, known for restoring the potency of the male sexual drive. Two of his best-known poems are “The Second Coming” (no pun intended) and “Easter, 1916”.

    William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) - William Carlos Williams was a renowned modernist American poet, who also just happened to be a general doctor and a pediatrician, who famously said he worked harder at the former than the latter. He lived, wrote and practiced in New Jersey, and always felt the need for a specifically fresh American voice, in opposition to what he saw as a tired and elitist tradition from Great Britain and Europe. His many works earned several prizes (many posthumous) and are widely anthologized. He would very likely have had more fame as a poet if a certain Thomas Stearns Eliot hadn’t published The Wasteland just a year before Williams’ own seminal work, Spring and All. He was certainly enough of a modernist to recognize the value of young Allen Ginsberg, for whose Howl and Other Poems he wrote the introduction in 1956. Williams was a mentor and figure of respect to many of the “beat” poets of the period – somehow one cannot imagine Mr. Eliot in that position!

    William Clark (1770 – 1838) - William Clark was an American explorer who, along with Meriwether Lewis, led the dangerous and arduous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803/06, which opened up the Pacific Northwest for the United States. Prior to and after the expedition, William Clark served in the United States Army and in the militia; he was governor of the Missouri Territory and, for 16 years up to his death, served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Although never formally educated, William was a great reader and a writer of no little flair, as his logs from the expedition demonstrate. Married twice, he produced eight children, but of course, popular history is always looking for a little spice, so there were rumors of an involvement with Sacagawea along the exploration route. Sacagawea joined the expedition along with her French trapper husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, while pregnant with her first child, giving birth to him shortly thereafter. Her skill as an interpreter/guide and her obvious distraction as a new mother make the possibility of outside hanky-panky quite remote – nonetheless, William Clark did formally become the boy’s guardian in 1815, after Sacagawea’s death. But that’s another story.

    William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897-1962) - William Faulkner was one of the most important writers of modern American literature, especially of the Southern genre. He won a Nobel Prize in 1949 for his body of work, which includes the classics The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Light in August, as well as numerous short stories and screenplays. He was born in Mississippi, and much of his fictional Yoknapatawpha County is drawn from Lafayette County, where he was raised. As a child he absorbed the stories of his elders and his African American nurse concerning the Civil War, the abolition of slavery, and the deeds of the Ku Klux Klan, which he incorporated into his novels and stories, reflecting the ravages of change and decay on the South and the uneasiness of racial relations. Most of his life was spent in Oxford, Mississippi, but he sojourned to Hollywood off and on throughout the thirties and forties to supplement his income by working on screenplays. Although married to his high school sweetheart, Faulkner engaged in several affairs throughout his lifetime, and undoubtedly his fondness for alcohol led to his death from a heart attack before he was quite 65 years old. The University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”), which he attended for some time, now owns and maintains the home he owned in Oxford, “Rowan Oak”.

    William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917) - Buffalo Bill Cody was arguably the most popular and colorful American of his times. He was born in the Iowa Territory to parents who were outspoken abolitionists, which often led to the family being ostracized by others. It does not appear to have had any ill effects on young William, who seems to have taken life into an enormous embrace. At various times, he was a soldier, an Army scout, a fighter in the Civil War, a rider for the Pony Express, a buffalo hunter, and – foremost – a showman of the highest caliber. He won the Medal of Honor and he was a 32nd degree Free Mason. It is said that William Cody earned his nickname after singlehandedly taking out almost 4,300 head of bison in an eighteen month period. We cannot accuse him of wanton slaughter, however, since they were killed for food, and they numbered in the millions at the time (although they are almost extinct now). He seems to have been a respectful emissary to the Indian nations, and he employed many willing Native Americans in his “Wild West” shows, which toured all over the United States and Europe to great acclaim, including command performances before crowned heads. All over Europe, as well as in America, people clamored to see this embodiment of a dying era in frontier history. When he died of kidney failure in 1917, he was widely mourned, and since that time his legend has dimmed little with the years.

    William Henry Harrison (9 Feb 1773 – 4 Apr 1841) - William Henry Harrison was America’s ninth president, serving for only one month from March 4 to his death on April 4, 1841. Harrison made a name for himself as the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe against Native American Indians who fought against American expansion within the Indiana Territory (um, can you blame them?). Well, back then Harrison was highly regarded for his actions and ran his campaign on the famous "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too" slogan. Harrison also has two other distinctions: he was the last President born a British subject and he was the first President to die in office. Ironically, Harrison contracted pneumonia during his two hour long inaugural address on a cold January winter's day (his First Lady Anna was not in attendance). William is a name of Germanic origins and means "valiant protector" (he should have protected himself from that cold!) Harrison is also a fairly commonly used male given name in America.

    William Howard Taft (15 Sep 1857 – 8 Mar 1930) - William Taft was America’s 27th President serving between 1909 and 1913. Taft was hand-picked by Teddy Roosevelt to carry out his plan after Roosevelt regrettably decided not to seek a third term. Only this didn't work out as planned. Taft was a reluctant leader and did not enjoy politics; in fact, his real dream was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The other thing people remember about Taft was that he holds the record as our heaviest president (350+ lbs). He once joked about himself on a streetcar: "I got up and gave my seat to three ladies." Since Taft was not exactly into his position as President, he delegated a lot of power to his cabinet members who pretty much did as they pleased. This made Teddy Roosevelt crazy; he believed Taft was unraveling all of his work and became quite vindictive. In the 1912 election, TR tried to gain back the Republican nomination, but his party chose Taft (he was easier to control). Furious, TR joined a new "Progressive" party to run against Taft and the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson. Just like Ross Perot did in the 1992 election, Roosevelt split the Republican vote making it possible for the Democrats to secure the Executive Office.

    William I of England (ca. 1028 – 1087) - William I is usually known as William the Conqueror, but also sports the unfortunate moniker of William the Bastard, being the illegitimate son of Robert, Duke of Normandy. Whatever his name, he is well known as the first Norman King of England, who reigned from the Norman conquest of England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 until his death. When King Edward died in 1066, Harold, Earl of Wessex, was crowned king of England. William, who averred that Edward had promised the throne to him, with Harold’s cooperation, was furious, and invaded successfully, killing Harold in the battle. During his reign, he instituted the building of numerous castles and armaments, imposed law and order, stifled invasions from abroad and uprisings from within, and reorganized the Church. His reign was also notable for the 1086 Domesday Book, a massive survey and compilation of all of the property holdings in England. He and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, had nine children, and upon his death, Normandy went to his eldest son, Robert, while England went to his son, William. About that death – he sustained a fatal injury falling from horseback while engaging in battle with Philip I of France – because – apparently Philip had made a remark about William’s growing obesity, likening him to a pregnant woman. Vanity, thy name is not necessarily woman!

    William II of England (ca. 1056 – 1100) - William II was the son of William the Conqueror, known as William Rufus (the Red), who inherited the throne of England upon his father’s death in 1087. His older brother was given the lesser prize of Normandy, which led to understandable ill feelings between the siblings. In 1091, William invaded Normandy, and his brother reluctantly agreed to give him huge holdings there, solidifying William’s superior position. He was not at all popular with the Church, feeling it his right to raid their coffers when he needed money. In general, William was not a popular ruler. He died of an arrow wound inflicted by Walter Tirel during a hunting party – some say it was an accident; some say that Tirel was operating on behalf of William’s younger brother, Henry, who now ascended to the throne, there being no marriage and no little Williams available. The controversy has never been settled, but Tirel did flee to France, never to return, while his son was allowed to keep his father’s properties in England. You be the judge.

    William III of England (1650 – 1702) - William III was William Henry of Orange, the Dutch Republic, who became one-half of the “William and Mary” team to rule over Great Britain, and endow the College of William and Mary in the Colonies. It was William who defeated the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, winning the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. As a staunch Protestant, William was welcomed by many in England who feared a restoration of the power of Catholicism. He was the son of the daughter Charles I of England, Mary Stuart, and William of Orange-Nassau, the most powerful family of The Netherlands; it was his father’s line that influenced him most. His main concern was keeping Louis XIV of France from overrunning Europe. It was in 1672 that William was reappointed the coveted “stadhoudership” of The Netherlands, allowing him the means of waging war against Louis. Allying with Spain and Austria, he prevailed upon his uncle, James I, to agree to William’s marrying his daughter, another Mary Stuart, his first cousin. And don’t forget, this is the uncle whom he deposed a few years later. Because he put his Continental concerns first, William worked easily with Parliament, not imposing the powers of the sovereign upon the British Isles, and making for a more peaceful rule than they had seen in decades. Mary died of smallpox in 1694; William mourned her deeply, and died of pneumonia in 1702, without their having had any heirs (probably a good idea, with that close familial relationship), and also bringing an end to the Dutch House of Orange.

    William IV of England (1765 – 1837) - William IV was the third son of George III (the “mad” king), who was groomed to join the navy (what’re you gonna do with third sons?!), and eventually became Admiral of the Fleet. Named the Duke of Clarence by his father, William retired from service in 1790 and settled comfortably in with his mistress, the actress, Dorothy Jordan, with whom he sired ten children. Eventually prevailed upon to effect a suitable marriage for political purposes, he amiably left Dottie and married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. They had a surprisingly solid marriage, although repeated attempts to produce progeny ended tragically in miscarriages and early deaths. Upon being awakened in the night upon the death of his brother, George IV, and being told that he was now king, he rolled over and went back to sleep, remarking that he had not yet slept with a queen until this moment. His tenure was relatively peaceful, and the Reform Act of 1832 is its most lasting contribution. Well – almost – perhaps the most important legacy was that William’s brother Edward’s daughter, Victoria, ascended to the throne upon William’s death in 1837, and England didn’t have to worry about heirs for another 65 years – what a relief!

    William Jefferson Clinton (19 Aug 1946 - Present) - Bill Clinton is one of only four former United States presidents living, he being the 42nd in succession. Overcoming a troubled and underprivileged childhood, Clinton rose through academic and political ranks to achieve the highest office in the land. Admittedly personally charming and charismatic, engaging and intellectual (he was a Rhodes scholar), William “Bill” Clinton’s eight year reign was indelibly marred by the specter of impeachment. He presided over a period of domestic financial growth, fostered relations between Israel and the Arab nations, worked for health care and welfare reform, instituted NAFTA, tried to address the issues of gays in the military and, well, had a few little flings, one of which almost got him impeached. Upon leaving office, he worked on his own wife’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and has become a kind of elder statesman and humanitarian over the last decade. And he’s still married to Hillary. That may be his biggest coup of all.

    William McKinley (29 Jan 1843 – 14 Sep 1901) - McKinley was America’s 25th president serving between 1897 and 1901. McKinley had a calm, laid-back demeanor which caused many people to underestimate his very capable and efficient management style. He was also the last Civil War veteran to be President and he had 20 years of political experience under his belt in Congress. As he assumed the presidency, the depression of 1893 was running its course and things were looking up economically. McKinley's term was most defined by two things: the Spanish American War and his unfortunate assassination (the third president meeting this fate). The human suffering and brutality suffered by the Cubans under Spanish control was too much for the American people to stomach. War became inevitable. But not only for humanitarian reasons. The U.S. needed to claim its own overseas military power for its own expansionist self-interests. Highly influential on issues of foreign policy was McKinley's Secretary of the Navy, none other than Theodore Roosevelt. When the USS Maine exploded (for reasons unknown), it became the perfect excuse to go to war. TR left his government post to create the "Rough Riders" and his fame earned him a place as McKinley's running mate in the 1900 election (which they won). Of course, this meant that the often controversial Teddy Roosevelt was just "one heartbeat from the presidency". To the dismay of TR's foes, McKinley was shot and killed in 1901 by a crazy man upset about the economic disparity of the rich and poor in the U.S.

    William Penn (1644 - 1718) - William Penn was a most interesting young Englishman who studied philosophy and championed democracy and religious independence at a time when religious dissent was frowned upon. At the age of 22, he converted to the Quaker sect, and remained one his entire life, pursuing a stricter, perhaps even Puritanical, form thereof. It was an action that led to his imprisonment for several months, as well as his expulsion from Oxford College. In 1681, King Charles deeded a large parcel of land in his American holdings to William, in payment of a debt to William’s deceased father. That’s where part of our history begins – William Penn founded a colony where Quakers could immigrate and be free to practice their religion without fear of imprisonment or torture, and where other religious denominations were welcome as well. He called the carved out colony “Sylvania”, and Charles II later renamed it “Pennsylvania” in honor of Penn’s father. William Penn apparently was a little short on the administrative side of things, however, and his business manager, Philip Ford, embezzled large sums of money and even had Penn sign a document deeding Pennsylvania over to him. After Ford’s death, his widow threatened to make good on the deed, and poor William was thrown into debtor’s prison. After that was resolved, he tried to make Pennsylvania his permanent home, but Mrs. William put an end to that. Next, William sent his son, William Jr., off to the colony to oversee matters, but he was a ne’er-do-well who botched things up as well. It was William Penn’s final intention to sell Pennsylvania back to the Crown in order to avoid the political destruction of his most important work, but he died penniless in the middle of this negotiation. The colony managed to thrive under the subsequent ownership of the Penn family up until the American Revolution, and William Penn’s contributions have been honored ever since. There is one legacy that he did not pass on, however – he is most definitely not the man on the Quaker Oats box!

    William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616) - William Shakespeare - Good ole William Shakespeare. It's impossible to summarize this man in one simple paragraph. Needless to say, he's widely considered the greatest contributor to modern English literature. His 38 plays (consisting of tragedies, histories and comedies) are thematically timeless and so accurately reveal the universal human condition, that they have been translated into every known language outside of English. Further, no other playwright has had their works in more stage productions. To read, understand and appreciate Shakespeare is to love life and laugh at its absurdity at the same time.

    William Tell (14th century) - William Tell was a folk hero of Switzerland, whose exploits are chronicled in various medieval accounts. According to legend, he was a powerful and superb marksman of the crossbow who used his prowess to kill the Austrian usurper to Swiss autonomy, Gessler, making him a powerful symbol of Swiss patriotism in the post-Napoleonic era. Whether fable or truth, his story is known by any schoolchild. When he refused to pledge allegiance to Gessler, Gessler condemned him to death, but gave him an out: if he could shoot an apple off the head of his young son, Walter, he might go free. William Tell did so successfully, but he had removed two arrows from his quiver – in case he killed Walter, he would have immediately killed Gessler as well. This angers Gessler so much that he takes William prisoner; our hero escapes, naturally, and eventually assassinates the evildoer. While celebrated in poetry, plays, books and movies, the most enduring tribute comes from Rossini’s opera, which gave us the “William Tell Overture”, which became the theme music for the fictional “Lone Ranger”. Sic transit gloria mundi.

    William Wallace (ca. 1272-1305) - (Sir) William Wallace was a Scottish knight who was one of the leaders of the Wars of Scottish Independence. Mel Gibson’s epic film of 1995, Braveheart, while somewhat rhapsodic from an historical point of view, contributed to a renewed interest in this warrior hero. In 1286, King Alexander III of Scotland died after a fall from his horse. There being no heirs of age, the governing of Scotland was claimed by no fewer than thirteen nobles, leaving a wide open space for Edward I of England to march into. There was a great deal of civil unrest in the country, with many Scots pledging allegiance to Edward. Not our William! He and his like-minded buddies fought fiercely for Scottish independence, no doubt fired by his outrage at his own father’s death in a skirmish with the English. Wallace is said to have stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall, making him a veritable giant of his times. His prowess at the bow and sword and his skills as an equestrian added to the mythology that grew up around him. His brilliance was as a strategist, and he and his men won a huge victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, when they managed to trick so many English cavalry and footmen onto the bridge that it collapsed under them. Sir William Wallace was the man of the hour. Things did not go so well at the later Battle of Falkirk, and Wallace handed over the reins as “Guardian of Scotland” to Sir Robert Bruce, while he approached France for help. Edward I had a price on his head, and Wallace was ultimately betrayed by a Scottish knight. He was captured, accused of treason and most cruelly hanged, drawn and quartered. To his end he went proudly, never flinching and proclaiming his loyalty to a Scotland for Scots forever.

    William Wordsworth (1770-1850) - William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who was the Poet Laureate from 1843 to his death in 1850. Born in the Lake District of northwest England, his surroundings would influence him all his poetic life. Many of his early poems dealing with loss and abandonment may be traced to the death of his mother when he was only eight years old. He was exceedingly close to his sister, Dorothy, and they, often together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, took many walking tours in England and abroad. He and Coleridge launched the new Romantic Age in English literature with their joint production in 1798 of Lyrical Ballads, which contained Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”. (Coleridge and Wordsworth were estranged for a time, due to the latter’s disapproval of his friend’s opium addiction.) Wordsworth’s avowed intention was to effect a voice for “the common man”, in a move toward a less stilted reality. William Wordsworth did sire a child out of wedlock by a Frenchwoman, but he did provide for her financially. He married a childhood friend, Mary Hutchinson, and they had five children together, three of whom the parents outlived. It seems to have been the death of his daughter, Dora, in 1847, that left him with little energy for going on creatively. He died in 1850 of pleurisy.

Personality of the Boy Name William

The number Seven personality is deeply mystical and highly in tune with their spirituality. They operate on a different wavelength than the average joe. Spending time alone comes easily to Sevens, as it gives them time to contemplate philosophical, religious and spiritual ideas in an effort to find "real truth".  Sevens are wise, but often exude mystery as if they are tapped into something the rest of us don't understand. They love the outdoors and are fed by nature. Sevens are constantly seeking to understand human nature, our place in the universe, and the mystery of life in general. This makes them quite artistic and poetic, but they are also keen observers with high intellect - so they are equally scientific-minded. Sevens are charitable and care deeply about the human condition.

Variations of the Baby Name - William

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