Naming Patterns

Discussion in 'Starting Your Family History Research' started by Daft Bat, May 10, 2019.

  1. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    Sometimes, we can find a potential ancestor but are not quite sure whether to claim them or not as our own. It may be that a surname was prevalent in a village or that it was a fairly common name. Then, it can seem as though trying to sort out who was who becomes like trying to knit fog.

    One helpful thing to assist could be referring to naming patterns. Between the years of 1700 and 1875, in order to honour previous generations, children were often – but not always – named after their grandparents, aunts and uncles.

    Below, you will see the traditional naming patterns that were in existence during those years.


    England and Wales

    First son was named after his father's father.
    Second son was named after his mother's father.
    Third son was named after his father.
    Fourth son was named after his father's oldest brother.
    Fifth son was named after his father's 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother.

    First daughter was named after her mother's mother.
    Second daughter was named after her father's mother.
    Third daughter was named after her mother.
    Fourth daughter was named after her mother's oldest sister.
    Fifth daughter is named after her mother's 2nd oldest sister or father's oldest sister.


    Scotland

    First son was named after his father's father
    Second son was named after his mother's father
    Third son was named after his father

    First daughter was named after her mother's mother
    Second daughter was named after her father's mother
    Third daughter was named after her mother

    Other daughters were named after other family members


    Ireland

    First son was named after his father's father
    Second son was named after his mother's father
    Third son was named after his father
    Fourth son was named after his father's oldest brother
    Fifth son was named after his mother's oldest brother

    First daughter was named after her mother's mother (or father's mother)
    Second daughter was named after her father's mother (or mother's mother)
    Third daughter was named after her mother
    Fourth daughter was named after her mother's oldest sister
    Fifth daughter was named after her father's oldest sister


    Over the years, the introduction of a middle name started to become popular, often to differentiate between members of the same family with the same first name, such as father and son. You will frequently find that it is the mother’s maiden name that was used – sometimes for each of the children in a family!

    Now, this is great if the family was straightforward, but as we know, not many were! If a mother was not married to the father of the child, it also became widely accepted to use the father’s surname as the middle name of the child. John Webb Mascall was so named and was the illegitimate son of Sarah Mascall and William Webb. This helped Sarah to claim support from the local Poor Law Union.

    If you come across an unusual name in your family, it might be worth investigating what else was happening at the time. Check to see how many children were named ‘Alma’ for instance, around the time of the Crimean War. Also, the child may have been named after very good friends of the family – or even the Godparents of the child as in the case of William Schwenck Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame.

    You may also well find that more than one child in the family was given the same name. This became a common practice when child mortality rates were high and the first child so named died. Therefore, it is always wise to see if you can find a death or burial record for that first child.
     
  2. Oz Faremeister

    Oz Faremeister Member

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    This tradition of the naming of the first son after his paternal grandfather was strictly followed by my family in Lancashire from 1717 but was broken in 1880. It's interesting that before and after that 1700-1875 period it wasn't followed.
     
    Ma-dotcom and Daft Bat like this.

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