Named for Baptismal Sponsors or Not?

In some locations and time periods, naming children for the baptismal sponsor was common. Other times it was not.

When my grandmother and two of her siblings were christened as infants in 1915 at a Protestant church of German heritage in Illinois, all were named for their baptismal sponsors. In looking at other entries for the same church during the same time period, the practice was relatively common.

That was not the case when looking at the christening records of a German immigrant church in Nebraska (again, Protestant). My great-grandmother and several of her siblings were christened there in the 1880s–none of them had the same name as their sponsor (all were named for grandparents in this case). In looking at several pages of entries for the same time period–again, not just looking at entries for my family–naming the child for the sponsor (or using one of the sponsors’ name for one of the child’s names) was done, but was done in less than half the entries I looked at.

Practices regarding naming children for sponsors vary from one time and place to another. Look at other contemporary entries and see what they were doing. You can’t really know if something was a common practice unless you look at others in the same place and time.

One specific example of someone doing something does not mean it was a common practice.