London parents are turning to the past to name their newborn and now Claudia, Daniel, Alexander and Sophie are the Kylies and Traceys of the 1990s.

An Independent London survey of registrar officers found that the most popular choices for boys are Daniel, Alexander, Matthew, James and Thomas - traditional names which have never really disappeared.

For girls, parents are returning to old-fashioned names, Olivias, Claudias, Sophies and Graces. 'They're being quite sensible lately,' said Angela Williams of the Westminster Registrar's Office.

Officers agree that there is a greater diversity of names, as parents strive to be original. Leslie Dunkling, author of The Guinness Book of Names (1993), said some names become 'defeated by their own popularity'. Unlike traditional names, Kevin and Gary become too popular for their own good and lose their staying power.

Nineties names are less formal. Children who would have been Charles and William are now being registered as Charlie and Billy in districts like Hounslow and Sutton, while Alfie is big in Barking and Islington. Alex and Jake are growing in poularity.

Leslie Dunkling notes a recent preference for androgynous names. Charlie and George may actually be registered as Charlotte and Georgina. Where Patricia was shortened to Tricia in the Sixties, these days she is more likely to be Pat.

Maximilian is popular in Westminster, Skye and India in Hammersmith, and Skye and Rainbow are in vogue in Westminster. Waltham Forest has seen a spate of Mays this month.

In districts like Brent and Camden, you are as likely to find Caribbean, West African and Asian names as any others. In Newham, the most common names are Mohammed and Fatima, and Babatunde is popular amongst Nigerians in Southwark.

Biblical names are also popular, especially Joshua and Adam; Rebecca and Hannah . Older spellings are also in vogue, with parents from Kensington to Southwark insisting on Hebraic forms such as Rebekah.

Increasingly, variant spell-ings are adopted - Emilie, Mathyew or Sharlotte, though according to Richmond registrar's office, this is an inner-city phenomenon.

Invented names can be found, particularly for girls - Gineece, Keslie, Matisse, Layce and Chenee.

Second names are often drawn from previous family names, though William and Louise are by far the most popular ones.

'Louise goes with everything, explained the Bromley registrar.

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