Monday, October 13, 2014

Family Naming Patterns

When I was pregnant with my son--I'll refer to him as "J"--I wasn't doing genealogy research yet. So when my husband and I were making a list of possible names, it never occurred to me to pick a name from our families. If it had, he could have ended up as an Adam, or Isaac, or even Peter.

Choosing a given name based on family members was a common practice in the past, though. This was often done as a way of honoring them. Depending on a couple's ethnicity and whether the child was the first-born or the fourth, a son could have been named after a grandfather, the father's brother, or the father himself.

Another pattern you may see when researching your family is that a mother's maiden name was used as a child's middle name. I've found a few examples of this in my husband's family, where various parents gave their children the middle names of Dinsmore, Pollock, and Gamble. All were the maiden names of their mothers.

My grandfather's first and middle names were John Baptist. He was named after his father Johann Baptist, who was named after his father Jean Baptiste. Three generations with the same name. My husband is a Jr. but didn't want our son to have the same name, so that family pattern was ultimately broken. In the end, it was a coincidence but "J" ended up with the name of one of his 2nd great-grandfathers.

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