The 1995 British Macaula/ey Spike


When Culkin arrived at the international big screen when he starred as the main character in the film, Home Alone, in late 1990, the usage of the name in Britain picked up. But there’s a big spike that occurred in 1995.

I originally planned to release this blog post back in May but had decided put it in the back-burner for a while. Now that I’m thinking about this spike again, I figured now’s the time to write about it here.

As far as usage is concerned, over the past 100 years, when we compared different sections of that year range, MacAulay/MacAuley is a relatively modern name. Granted, as mentioned, this name picked up in the early 90s.

To illustrate all the garbage I’ve thrown out to you all, here are two graphs for England & Wales (the second one basically the same, but more focused towards the period from 1991 to 2015)¹:


No wonder MacAuley was in the top 100 for the first and only time in ’96 because of the spike. However, it’s not limited to England & Wales though. Below is a table which includes the number of babies named MacAuley or MacAulay in Scotland for the same time period as the second graph²:


Even though Northern Ireland doesn’t have data going back to the early 90s or earlier, it seems clear to me that the big rise/spike is present throughout Britain. The question now is: why the spike in ’95?

When I asked around some people I know of while I was studying in college back when I first found out about this spike, they all kept coming back to the actor Macaulay Culkin. During 1993 and 1995 (using UK release dates), he starred in 5 films, all receiving a range of responses, mixed at best to really negative at worst, and not making enough profit, when looking at the American perspective (The Good Son is an exception regarding profit-making)³.
Those do not seem like good reasons for this spike…but maybe it’s something to do with the fact that he appeared in multiple films in such a short space of time that played the role and combine that with our familiarity of Culkin from his Home Alone films. That sounds more like a good reason. A more unlikely reason would be that it’s not Culkin, but something or someone else. Unlikely because, of all the other MacAulay/MacAuley items I searched in Google (the search engine as well the books section), none do not really add up in terms of relevance. So, my bet now is on Culkin.

EDIT (19/12/2018): Since Nancy linked my page to her post about this name, I might as well repeat what I’ve said on my Twitter thread back in July (repeated in my response to Nancy’s post) in which there is now a probable cause for the spike, so I highly recommend you check that out.

England & Wales Birth Registration Index from FamilySearch (also available at FreeBMD) –¹
Office for National Statistics ––england-and-wales/index.html¹
National Records of Scotland –²
IMDb page of Macaulay Culkin –³
Rotten Tomatoes page of Macaulay Culkin –³

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