1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. If you're looking for the LostCousins site please click the logo in the top left corner - these forums are for existing LostCousins members only.
  3. This is the LostCousins Forum. If you were looking for the LostCousins website simply click the logo at the top left.
  4. Coronavirus Corner - a place to share your hopes, dreams, and frustrations.
  5. Only registered members can see all the forums - if you've received an invitation to join (it'll be on your My Summary page) please register NOW!

Naming patterns

Discussion in 'Search tips - discussion' started by Alexander Bisset, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    The conventional pattern for those that were dedicated pattern followers would have been for James to give his own name to his third son. The second son getting the mother's father's name, ie: James' wife's father.

    If the family were pattern followers it would suggest that James came from either of his grandfathers (assuming James was a first or second son).
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    There don't seem to have been many who followed that pattern - at least, not in my tree. If there is a discernible pattern, it's for the first son to be named after the child's father, but in some cases father and grandfather had the same name, and in others the first son was given both names, sometimes in one order, sometimes in the other.

    I would be interesting to find out what other members have found in the English part of their tree. There's a book which suggests that the naming pattern Alexander described was in use between 1700-1875.
  3. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    I've tended to see 1st son after father, 1st daughter after mother. The grandfathers and grandmothers. With mothers and grandmothers maiden names thrown in as middle names.

    Perhaps Alexander could write a report for FTA? :)
    • Creative Creative x 1
  4. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    I don't know if this helps at all, but I have one family which seems to follow - 1st son with grandfather's name, 2nd with fathers for two generations... but I'm not completely sure because I don't know the name of one of the grandfathers! And another which seems to have named a first son James Henry or James or more of a habit to name their eldest sons after their fathers - at least a couple of them do that! (They're both English)

    But, had I known it at the time, I have a g-g-grandmother & grandfather (Scottish) who named their children as follows:
    - 1st daughter: maternal grandmother (both first & last names)
    - 2nd daughter: paternal grandmother (first & last names)
    - 1st son: maternal grandfather (first & last)
    - 2nd son: father (first name)
    - 3rd son: paternal grandfather (first name)
    - 4th son: maternal step-grandfather (maternal grandfather died in the India Mutiny wars) - first, middle & last name
    - 4th daughter: fairly sure maternal g-grandmother (first & last names).

    The only two I'm not completely sure of are the 3rd & 5th daughters, but then maybe I haven't quite found those links yet! (They're possibly within the maternal grandfather's family, whom I haven't found. The poor man is a complete dead end for me, all I know was that he served with the Cameron Highlanders, but I don't know where or when he was born or who his parents were!)
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  5. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    A good friend of mine and co-author of FTAnalyzer has Cornish, Essex and Scottish (Ayrshire) ancestry, almost all of them follow the pattern to a near obsessive degree. This included up to his own parents, his mother bucking the trend and insisting on unique first names for her three boys - although the pattern was maintained in middle names. So much so that he has repeatedly been able to find and match births, identify parents marriages and even identify the likely names of missing children, all this solely from the pattern knowing the names of the children thus predicting what the other members of the family are likely to be. He has in excess of 4000 people in his tree so its not just one or two people, its hundreds going back many many generations.

    This was especially helpful on his own direct paternal line of Brown which without the obsessive adherence to the pattern he may never have gotten very far back. It was easier too that they also seemed to insist on including mother's maiden names (or maternal grandmother's maiden names) as middle names.

    Pattern is: 1st son - father's father, 2nd son mother's father, 3rd son father's name, subsequent sons other family names. 1st daughter mother's mother, 2nd daughter father's mother, 3rd daughter mother's name, subsequent daughters other family names. The pattern only broken where the same name would be used twice or a childhood death meant a name wouldn't survive so it was reused for a subsequent child.

    Whereas 31/32 2g grandparents of mine are all from NE Scotland and none of them followed any recognisable pattern, so its not just a Scottish thing.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
  6. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Unfortunately there's no discernible pattern in my tree either (it primarily covers London, Essex, Suffolk, Kent, Hertfordshire, and Devon). It would be very handy to know what percentage of families in different counties did follow this practice at various points in time, but nobody seems to have done any research - what evidence there is seems to be either hearsay or anecdotal.

    One confounding factor is that once you have two generations where the name of the father and the grandfather are the same the first son is going to be given the same name whether the preferred pattern is to name him after his father or his father's father (and this will continue down the generations). It's more difficult to determine whether the pattern is followed for daughters because it's harder to trace the female lines.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. emjay

    emjay LostCousins Member

    My paternal great grandparents had difficulties in passing on family names due to deaths in infancy. 1st born was named James after his grandfather but was born and died in March 1865. The second child was named Elizabeth after her grandmother,born April 1866 and died May 1866.
    Then Jane 1868,who lived a 'full' life (although her only daughter tragically died aged 7 yrs. from 'acute catarral laringitis' in 1907)
    Next John named after his father b. 1870 d. 1872.
    Then John William b. 1873 d. 1853
    Next Maria, named after her mother b. 1875 d. 1877
    Then Thomas b.1877 d. 1957
    Next twins b. 1880 James lived only 7 months whilst twin Samuel lived until 1965
    Then at last Elizabeth (after her grandmother) b. 1883 lived to 1967
    Followed by James(after his grandfather)b. 1885 who was my grandfather, and lived until 1966
  8. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Unless there is a clear and consistent pattern, as in the case of Alexander's friend, the predictive value is negligible. Does anyone have a consistent pattern in their tree (or a significant part of it), and if so have you been able to go back an extra generation in one or more of your lines as a result of assuming that the parents followed this naming pattern?
  9. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    I can get my friend Deryck to share some examples if you like?
  10. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I think what we need most is for other researchers to tell us about similar patterns in their own tree - so far only emjay has come up with an example, and that only for one generation of one family.

    Does anyone have a tree in which a naming pattern occurs sufficiently consistently to have a predictive value?
  11. Katie Bee

    Katie Bee LostCousins Member

    Loads of family names passed down, and surnames as middle names, but nothing consistent or predictive!
    Looking at it in a fresh light from this discussion, I may be able to guess at the names of some unknown ancestors.
  12. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    I agree with Katie Bee. The same names crop up generation after generation but I haven't been able to discern a pattern. Very often the eldest son has the same name as his father, but then sometimes it might be son no. 3 or 4. The same occurs with daughters.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Similar to Katie and Gillian, I have many repetitions of names which can be comforting to know one is following the right line but nothing sufficient to be predictive.

    I mentioned in another discussion that my father was William, son of William, son of William, but then both my parents were determined that their 3 sons should not be William, much to my grand parents dismay. Further back along several lines I have a few generations of Richard and Thomas being repeated but never for more than 3 that I recall.

    Similar names can also be a problem for us now. I have just started looking at a 'family' that lived in a village near Chichester. Thomas, son of Henry Hother, married Mary in 1868, had 13 children (!) and they were still married in 1911. However, I also found a marriage record for Thomas, son of Henry Hother, to Eliza in 1888 at the same village. I just hope that there were two similarly named families living there at that time. I don't know of two living children being given the same name in one family (same parents), or have I just been lucky?
  14. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    My great-great grandparents, William Cheek Bousfield and Rebekah née Richings, called two of their sons Henry. Son no. 3 (child no. 6) was Henry Robinson B. and son no. 5 (child no. 10) was Henry Brougham B. It seems that confusion was avoided by always referring to Henry Brougham (who, incidentally, later became the first Anglican bishop of Pretoria, S. Africa) simply as Brougham.
    The two Henrys were preceded by son no. 2, my great-grandfather, George Benjamin Richings B., who was presumably called after his paternal grandfather George, his mother's brother Rev. Benjamin and his mother Richings. Son no. 1 was called after his father, William Cheek, but was childless. Another brother, child no. 8, was called (perhaps not surprisingly) Octavius Lawes B. The records of his descendants show that the Richings surname has been passed down consistently to at least one child in each generation right up to the present day. None of the descendants of the other sons, or daughters come to that, have been so good at retaining the names of their forebears. Perhaps it's the fact that the New Zealanders are so far away that has made them want to retain the connection. What do you think, Bryman?
    I personally am so sad I didn't know about any of these people when my own children were born, as I'd have loved to call one of our daughters Rebekah!
  15. Katie Bee

    Katie Bee LostCousins Member

    I have something similar.
    A father called Charles with one son called Charles Henry and the youngest son called Charles Edward.
    Apparently the older son was called Henry and the youngest Charlie.
    They had 5 boys in all, so maybe they just ran out of names.
  16. Tim

    Tim Moderator Staff Member

    Unless they were following a naming convention?
  17. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    My lot didn't run out of names, because they managed to come up with Edward for their final son. I think that in Henry Brougham's case they gave him the full name (almost) of the person he was called after, who was Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), Lord High Chancellor from 1830 to 1834. I don't know why they rejected the Peter! I haven't found out who Henry Robinson might have been called after. Their son Edward was called Edward Holroyd, again given the full name of the person he was called after, that is, Edward Holroyd, Senior Commissioner of the London Bankruptcy Court, which was where papa, William Cheek, a solicitor, worked.
  18. Alexander Bisset

    Alexander Bisset Administrator Staff Member

    The point I was making was that my friend was acutely aware of the pattern as a child. His great grandfather James Brown had 5 boys each of them went on to name their first son after their father James. so his father was called James Brown and his father had 4 cousins all called James Brown all of roughly similar ages. They were a close family all miners in the 50s/60s so apparently it was common when discussing family to refer to Jim's Jimmy, Joe's Jimmy, Bill's Jimmy, John's Jimmy, George's Jimmy.

    ie: during my friends childhood his dad was always referred to by family as John's Jimmy. Hence growing up he was indoctrinated with the idea that there was a pattern in his family. This was reinforced by his mother repeatedly telling the tale of how she thought this was silly and wasn't going to name her children that way so went for more unusual names, but kept the "right" middle names to follow the pattern.

    This inbuilt knowledge he just assumed was how the family would always have been so he was actively looking for a pattern and indeed found it to be the case. Incidentally before anyone questions whether he was misled by looking for patterns he was a former university lecturer and so deeply versed in research methodology and being able to cite records to prove your research, I'd say almost obsessively questioning whether there was sufficient proof.

    I very strongly suspect that there may well be similar patterns in others trees but if people don't actively look for a pattern they won't find it.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    That's what I'm asking forum members to do - look for patterns and let us know what they find. We need to hear from everyone who looks for a pattern, whether or not you find one.

    Please don't post until you've looked at substantially all of your direct ancestors' families, or rather all those for whom you have sufficient evidence, otherwise it will be difficult to make sense of the results that we get. We don't need to know the detail, only that a pattern was followed (and what pattern it was if it wasn't the one shown here), the dates, and the number of generations for which the pattern holds.
  20. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Well, I am struggling to find any patterns in my ancestral families that were repeated down the generations.

    Some individual families did seem to be more or less adhering to traditional naming conventions but I found too many interruptions when following through the generations - things like a missing marriage in one generation (so no maternal parents' names to compare), a non-conformist family where I cannot be sure what order the children were born in, ancestral couples where the woman's family were of higher status and the oldest children were named after her parents instead of his, families who opted to use ancestral surnames instead of parental forenames, and families who just seemed to prefer the outlandish to the traditional.

    So I have found no consistent naming patterns in my ancestry.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 2

Share This Page