Transferred use of the surname, which is usually said to be a Norman baronial name from Saint-Denis in France. However, at least in the case of the family of the poet and soldier Sir Philip Sidney (1554–86), it appears to have a more humble origin, being derived from lands in Surrey named as the ‘wide meadow’ (Old English sīdan ‘wide’ (dative case) + ēg ‘island in a river, riverside meadow’). Evidence of use as a given name dates back to the 18th century, and the popularity of the boy's name increased considerably in the 19th century, probably due in part to Sydney Carton, hero of Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities (1859). As a girl's name it arose in part as a contracted form of Sidony; coincidentally it represents an altered form of Sindy. In recent years, the girls' name, usually written Sydney, has become popular throughout the English-speaking world, especially in North America.