What’s in a Name? A Data Driven Look at my Fellow Wesley Halls

John Wesley (28 June 1703 – 2 March 1791)
John Wesley (28 June 1703 – 2 March 1791)

Whenever I see or meet someone I share my name with, I always wonder about the things we have – or do not have – in common other than our name. At my current job, we have two Wesleys. One Wesley enjoys racing stocks cars and the other Wesley (yours truly) is an overly enthusiastic Nottingham Forest and Atlanta United fan. (Nottingham Forest is a different what’s in a name story). Both Wesleys are code junkies and love JavaScript. Recently, I started wondering what my fellow Wesley Halls do and love, so I took a thousand foot view at my namesakes across a couple of data sources.

A Quick History

Before we look at what Wesley Halls do, let’s look at what “Wesley Hall” means. Wikipedia reports: Wesley, a shortened version of “Wesleydale”, is a name with an Anglo-Norman etymology. The “wes” portion of the name refers to the Western cardinal direction, while the word “lea” refers to a field, pasture, or other clearing in a forest. Thus, the name’s origin refers to a “western lea,” or a field to the west.

Reports on Behind the Name contend that Wesley is also is the English version of Wenceslas (or the Slavic name Veseslav) which means “more glory”. Saint Veseslav was a 10th-century duke of Bohemia murdered by his brother, and was also the name of several Bohemian kings – including the Good King Wenceslas in the well know Christmas carol.

For some parents, Wesley is a tribute to John Wesley (1703 – 1791) and his brother Charles (1707 – 1788) who along with fellow minister George Whitefield  (1714 – 1770), founded the evangelical movement known as Methodism. John Wesley’s work and writings also played a leading role in the development of the Holiness movement and Pentecostalism.

According to Wikipedia, Hall is a common family name of Scottish origin. Hall means “kind” and “forgiving”. This originates from the belief that Viking thanes were eternally benevolent to those that worked within their halls. The name was used to indicate the main occupation of the individual, in a role such as a servant or chamberlain. Hall is the 22nd most common surname in the United Kingdom. Within the United States, it is ranked as the 26th most common surname.

Put the etymologies together and you get glorious, kind, and forgiving; from a Western field – or something close to that.

Searching for Wesley Hall

At the time of this writing, a literal Google search for “wesley hall” returned about 311,000 results. Here are some of the more notable Wesley Hall’s returned from Google:

  • Sir Wesley Hall – cricketer and politician
  • Wesley Hall – a North Carolina furniture company (most popular search result)
  • Wesley Hall – Minister of Music, First Baptist Church of Worcester

Popularity of Wesley as a Forename

  • Since 1880, Wesley being used as a forename averages 139th (or about 0.11%) of all recorded US names.
  • The most popular year (thus far) for being named Wesley was 1977 when Wesley was ranked number 66 (or about 0.25%) of all recorded US names.
  • Wesley broke the top 100 in name popularity from 1977 – 1982 and from 1985 – 1989.

Wesley Hall by Industry

  • An advanced LinkedIn search returned about 3600 people records for Wesley Hall.
  • When it comes to vocation, Wesley Halls tend to be communicators.
  • The leading industry for someone named Wesley Hall is Higher Education (5.55%) followed by Information Technology (4.9%).
  • The top job functions for Wesley Halls are Education (16%) followed by Media and Communications (14%).
  • Most Wesley Halls listed themselves on LinkedIn as Entry Level (29%) while most Wesley Halls in the Information Technology field list themselves as Senior (33%).

What’s in a Name Then?

Our names are an extension of who we are, and for better or worse, serve as one of the ways we are defined. By our etymology, Wesley Halls are kind and even glorious. By our industry breakdown, we tend to be responsible for sharing information. Even though our name does not actually decide our fate, it is interesting to look at the range of where our names appear. My fellow Wesley Halls are as diverse as the world itself, but when we dive into the data, we can find some commonality and even some trends about us. There are data sources I admittedly chose to exclude from this topic (criminal records and ethnicity for example) because my curiosity strictly centered around name popularity and industry.