Jack and Chloe win baby stakes

FOR THE first time in 50 years plain John does not make it into the most popular names in the country. His trendier brother, Jack - the pet alternative for John - remains the most popular boy's name for the fourth year running.

In 1944, John was number one. By 1984 the gospel evangelist and most "beloved disciple" had dropped to14th. For many centuries one of the most popular names in England, this year it disappears from the top 50 names published by the National Office for Statistics yesterday.

Chloe remains most popular choice for girls for the second year running, an odd choice considering its connections in English are with chlorine gas, coming from the Greek meaning a "young green shoot".

Phoebe, in Greek mythology the goddess of the moon, made the top 50 for the first time, possibly honouring one of the characters of the successful American sitcom, Friends.

And Jack's appeal could be attributed to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Titanic, Jack Dawson. However, Leslie Dunkling, author of the Guinness Book of Names, believed the changing popularity of names was more to do with the class structure. "Parents often give a name which they see as coming from a class above their own," he said. "I think Phoebe has existed in Sloaney circles for some time."

Other popular names reflected Britain's ethnic mix as children were named after religious icons or cultural legends specific to their community, Mr Dunkling said.

The Top 5


1. Jack

2. Thomas (up 1 place)

3. James (down 1 place)

4. Daniel

5. Joshua


1. Chloe

2. Emily

3. Megan (up 2 places)

4. Jessica

5. Sophie (down 2 places)