Naming Tendencies, Not Naming Laws

The oldest male child was always named for the father’s father.

This seems to have been the “naming law” in many cultures according to various “naming patterns” one sees posted in various online genealogy groups and forums.

Don’t misunderstand. Children were often named for relatives and some ethnic groups practiced such traditions. But do not assume that the second son is always named for the mother’s father or any of the other “rules” that are sometimes quoted. There are always exceptions even in families with a strong sense of tradition and their heritage.

Children are named for baptismal sponsors in some cases and not for a specific relative based on birth order. A certain relative may be disliked so vehemently that parents refuse to use the name for a child. A relative may be so enamored with a politician or well-known figure that they use their name instead of the relative they are “supposed” to name their child for based on birth order.

Names can be clues and if a set of parents had three children known to be named for the children’s grandparents then the next child of the correct gender may have been named for the remaining grandparent. The key word is “maybe.”

There are some laws in genealogy and there are tendencies. Naming patterns falls into the latter category.

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