Shirley Hornbeck's This and That Genealogy Tips on Naming Patterms

In the early colonies, the law of primogeniture was in effect. It is an exclusive right of the eldest son to inherit the father's estate. To ensure that the eldest son inherited, in the event the father died intestate, the eldest son was generally given the same name as his father. The second son was often given the first name of one of his uncles, generally the father's oldest brother. Later, families devised their own system to ensure that their offspring inherited. ie., giving all children the same middle name, denoting the fact that all with that name could inherit, and not just the oldest son.

As many families were very large, it is possible to find collateral kin, and thus an earlier ancestor by studying the names of your ancestors siblings. You can often make connections by studying the collateral kin.

As stated above, the eldest son usually had the same name as his father, the second son, the first name of one of his uncles. (paternal usually, unless the father had no brothers, then a maternal uncle). The middle name was either his mother's maiden name, or grandmother's maiden name. Basically, as more children were born, more maiden names were used, but generally those in the direct line. Great grandmothers, great great grandmothers, etc. Interestingly, after the fifth child, there will be names of famous people. Second generation immigrants often deviated from the original family names. They often named their children after local heroes. It is not uncommon for a southern family to name male children after famous southern political personalities, such as Robert E. Lee, Francis Marion, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, etc. However, the following generation often returned to the names of the previous generation. Therefore, when you find a generation of "local heroes", don't be discouraged. Ignore the names and try to concentrate on the more common names. This will help guide you back to the earlier ancestors.

Women's names follow the same practices as men's names, but generally follow the maternal line. The eldest daughter is often named for her maternal grandmother. Once again maiden names are often used as middle names. Sometimes, if the family is very large, you will only find one or two of the daughters with a maiden name as a middle name. Ironically, to find your female ancestor, you might have to take the first name of the eldest daughter, and the middle name of the second son.

Another interesting tidbit regarding women's lines. If you have the marriage record of your ancestor, and have no information about the wife other than her name, make a note of the person that married them. Many times the minister who performed the wedding is a relative. Her name may be different because she was a widow, thus being referred to by her first husband's name, instead of her maiden name.

It is often difficult to prove identity when there are several individuals with the same name. Aside from analyzing the family thru the naming trends, one should attempt to learn everything about their ancestor; wife, children, children's spouses, minister, debtors, creditors, occupation, religion, neighbors, siblings, politics, etc. Find his neighbors by studying the description of every parcel of land that he owned. Try to learn as much about his neighbors as possible.

There are some key principles to remember when researching collateral lines. First, names may change, particularly with women, but the relationships will remain, no matter how often the name changes. The strongest kin ties appear between women. The most enduring bond occurs between mothers and their grown daughters. This means that you may find more information by looking for a different surname than the direct line you are researching. Ties to the wife's kin are generally stronger than those to husband's, unless male ties are crucial to the husband's occupation. It is therefore necessary to learn the occupation of your ancestor.

Social relationships among kin are not broken by geographic mobility. This is important because you may be looking in an area where the records have been destroyed. You may find your information from one that is geographically removed from the destruction.

Genealogical organizations and literature are based on surnames. Too often, female lines are neglected. Be sure you understand the meaning of kinship terms in the period in which you are working. In colonial times, "in-law" referred to the relationships that we now call "step".

Affinity - relationships which exist because of marital ties. The contemporary term for these relations is "in-laws."

Augmented family - extension of nuclear family to include people bound together by law, rather than blood; eg. half siblings, adopted children, step-parents, step-siblings, etc.

Aunt - in American society, this term can refer to a woman in four different relative positions: father's sister, mother's sister, father's brother's wife, mother's brother's wife.

Brother - in addition to obvious meaning may also include:
(1) the husband of one's sister
(2) the brother of one's wife
(3) the husband of one's sister-in-law
(4) half-brother
(5) step-brother

Genealogists must also be aware "brother" may refer to a member of one's church.

Collateral family - referring to relatives who are "off to one side" i.e. not in the direct lineal ancestry, but who share a common ancestor. In western society, these people are called aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Consanguinity - refers to persons who share common descent or biological heritage.

Senior and Junior - The use of Sr. and Jr. after a name did not necessarily imply a father and son relationship as it does today. They may have lived in the same vicinity or they could have been an uncle and nephew. It could even be two unrelated individuals with the same name but of different ages. In order to help distinguish between them, "Sr." or "Jr." would be "tacked" on and it merely meant the older and the younger respectively.

Cousin - a very general term in American society referring to someone with whom you share a common ancestor. This term was widely used to mean an "extended family". If this person is in a different generation, the term "removed" is used giving the number of generations apart.

Extended family - when families of more than two generations compose a household or relationship.

Full sibling - one who has the same biological mother and father (thus the same ancestry) as oneself A half sibling has one of the same parents (and therefore shares only one side of the lineage) as oneself.

In Law - in contemporary society, term used to designate someone to whom you are related by your own marriage or that of a sibling. In colonial society, this term also referred to relationships created by the marriage of a parent, currently called "step" relationships. Thus a "mother-in-law" in the 17th century, may have been a father's second wife.

Natural child - when the term "natural" is used the researcher should not jump to a conclusion that it denotes an illegitimate relationship. It is meant to indicate a relationship by blood rather than one by marriage or adoption. An illegitimate child may be called "my base son" or "my bastard son."

Nephew/Niece - one who is the child of a sibling (or a half-sibling, or step-sibling, or a spouse's sibling, or your spouse's spouse's sibling. Since the term derives from the Latin term, "nepos" meaning grandson, it is possible an early colonial reference may have this meaning.

"Now wife"- often assumed that the testator of a will with this term had a former wife. While this may be true, it is more likely the testator is indicating the bequest is intended only for his present wife and not necessarily to any subsequent wife he may have. Donald Lines Jacobus wrote, ".... it is to be doubted whether any other legal phrase has fooled so many of our most experienced genealogists."

Nuclear family - a family group consisting of mother, father and dependent children.

Step-sibling - one related by virtue of a parent's marriage to an individual with children by a former marriage or relationship. While no relation by blood, there can be strong ties of emotion and tradition between step-siblings.

Uncle - in American society this term can refer to a man in four different relative positions: father's brother; mother's brother; father's sister's husband; mother's sister's husband.

The Illinois US Gen Web has an excellent Web Page that includes a helpful section "Surnames what's in a name". Its URL is:

The first son is named after the father's father
the second son is named after the mother's father
the third son is named after the father himself.
the fourth through end son is named after a favorite brother or friend (usually of the fathers)

the first daughter is named after the mother's mother
the second daughter is named after the father's mother
the third daughter is named after the mother herself
and the fourth through end daughter is named after a favorite sister or friend (usually of the mothers)

Of course in order for it to work you would have to know the first and second name of all involved. There are exceptions of course, like if the naming pattern was already satisfied. For instance say the mothers name was Martha and she was named after her mother Martha. Then she names the first girl Martha after her mother, the second she names after the fathers mother, and the third girl's name is now open to>other possibilities because she already named a girl after herself, or she could use her middle name. The same is true for the sons also. Especially watch if a child dies with an important name and they rename the baby the same name; usually you would try to put that name into the place where the child died as to follow the naming pattern.

This is true for naming patterns of the Welsh and Irish, except the third son is named for a brother or friend, not the fourth.

Nicknames can be VERY important clues. Record any nicknames you know and ask elderly relatives about other people's nicknames. Middle names can also be a lot of help -- or can be quite misleading if the person you're searching for has been known by middle name. One of the things I've learned the hard way is that if no one knows the middle name of a person only a few generations back, that may be because it was the middle name that was used.

Family tradition stories can provide great clues but isn't infallible. To make the best use of it, look at how many times the story has been passed down and how long it's been since you heard it. Each and every clue is important. So when in doubt, I urge you to save that questionable piece of information.

First son: named for his paternal grandfather.
Second son: named for his maternal grandfather.
Third son: named after father or father's paternal grandfather.
Fourth son: named after father's oldest brother or mother's paternal grandfather.
Fifth son: named after mother's eldest brother or father's material grandfather.
Sixth son: named after father's second oldest brother or for mother's maternal grandfather.

First dau: named for maternal grandmother.
Second dau: named for her paternal grandmother.
Third dau: named after mother or for mother's maternal grandmother.
Fourth dau: named after mother's oldest sister or for father's paternal grandmother.
Fifth dau: named after father's eldest sister or for mother's paternal grandmother.
Sixth dau: named after mother's second oldest sister or for father's paternal grandmother.

With people being what they are, there were all sorts of variations, some covered by rules and some by family decision. It was customary to name the next daughter/son born within a second marriage for the deceased husband/wife. If a father died before his child was born, the child was often named for him. If a mother died in childbirth, that child, if a girl, was usually named for the mother. Another child was commonly named for a child who had died within the family.

The custom was that the lst son be named for paternal grandfather; 2nd son named for his maternal grandfather; lst daughter for her maternal grandmother; 2nd daughter for her paternal grandmother. If 4 children were born then all 4 grandparents are known.

The custom of Germans was to give, at baptism, two names. The first was a spiritual or a saint's name in honor of a favorite saint. In my own German family, I see Johann Adam, Johann George, Johann Jacob Hetzel and some favorite female names were Anna Barbara and Anna Margaret Hetzel, all within the same family! The second or middle name was the name the person was known by within the family.

It was common practice in some German families to name the first born son after the child's paternal grandfather and the second born son after the maternal grandfather.

The suffix "in" or "en", added to the end of a name, such as Anna Maria Hetzelin denoted female, often an unmarried female.

The definitive URL for German patterns is by Kerchner
18th Century Pennsylvania German Naming Patterns

According to the book "In Search of Scottish Ancestry" the general naming pattern in Scotland was to name:
The eldest son after the paternal grandfather.
The second son after the maternal grandfather.
The third after the father.
The oldest daughter after the maternal grandmother.
The second daughter after the paternal grandmother.
The third daughter after the mother.

One variation of above was for the eldest son to be named after the mother's father and the eldest daughter after the father's mother.

Since given names change over the years someone doing research on their line would need to know the approximate time period when their ancestor was born and in what country.

Abigail - Abby, Nabby, Gail
Adelina - Addie, Addy
Adelaide - Addy, Adele, Dell, Della, Heidi
Agatha - Aggy
Agnes - Aggy, Inez, Nessa
Aileen - Allie, Lena
Alberta - Allie, Alla, Bert, Bertie
Alexandra - Alex, Alla, Sandy Alfreda - Alfy, Freda, Freddy, Freida
Alice/Alica - Alce, Alicia, Allie, Ally, Elsie, Lisa
Almira - Mira, Amanda - Mandy, Mendy
Almena - Allie, Mena
Amelia - Emily, Mel, Millie
Anne - Annie, Nan, Nancy, Nanny, Nina
Antoinette - Ann, Net, Netty, Tony
Arabella - Ara, Arry, Bel, Bella, Belle
Arlene - Arly, Lena
Armeda - Arry, Meda
Armena - Arry, Mena
Armilda - Arry, Milda, Milly
Artelia - Artie, Telia
Asenath - Assene, Natty, Sene
Augusta/Augustina - Aggy, Gussie, Tina

Barbara - Bab, Babs
Beatrice - Bea, Trisha, Triasie, Trissy, Trix, Trixie
Belinda - Bella, Belle, Linda
Bertha - Birdie, Bert, Bertie, Berty
Bessie - Elizabeth
Bridget - Biddie, Biddy, Bridie

Camille -Cammy, Millie
Caroline/Carolyn - Caddie, Carrie, Carol, Cassie, Lynn
Cassandra - Cassie, Sandra, Sandy
Catharina/ Catharine - Cassie, Cathy, Kate, Katie, Katrine, Kit, Kitty, Trina
Cecilia or Cecily - Celia, Cis, Cissy, Sis, Sisley
Charlotte - Char, Lotta, Lottie, Lotty, sometimes Sherry
Christiana/Christine - Chris, Chrissie, Crissy, Christy, Tina
Chrinstina - Chrissie, Xina
Cicely - Cecilia
Cinderella - Cindy, Ella
Clara - Clare
Clarissa/Clarinda - Clara, Clare, Cissy
Constance - Connie
Cordelia - Cordy, Delia
Cordessa - Cordy, Essa
Cornelia - Corny, Nelle, Nelly
Cynthia - Cindy

Darcus - Darkey
Darlene - Darry, Lena
Deborah/Debra - Deb, Debby, Lil, Lila
Delilah - Dell, Della, Lil, Lila
Delores - Dell, Lola, Dolly
Dorinda same as Dorothea
Dorothea/Dorothy - Dol, Dolly, Dot, Dotha, Dotty

Edith - Edie
Eleanor - Ella, Elaine, Ellen, Ellie, Lanna, Lenora, Nell, Nellie, Nelly, Nora
Elizabeth/Elisabeth - Bess, Bessy, Beth, Betsy, Betty, Elsbeth, Elsie, Eliza, Libby, Lisa, Liza, Liz, Lizzy
Ellen - Helen
Elmira - Ely, Mira
Emeline - Em, Emily, Emma, Emmy, Milly
Emma - Emm, Emmie, Emily
Estelle - Essy, Stella
Esther - Essie
Eugenia - Genie
Euphemia - Effie
Eustacia - Stacia, Stacy Evaline - Eva, Lena
Eve - Eva
Eva - Eveline, Eveline, Evelyn

Faith - Fay
Fidelia - Delia
Florence - Flo, Flora, Floss, Flossie
Frances - Cissy, Fanny, Fran, Frankie, Sis
Frederica/Fredericka - Freda, Freddie, Ricka

Gabrielle - Ella, Gabby
Genevieve - Eva, Ginny
Geraldine - Dina, Gerrie, Jerry
Gertrude - Gert, Gertie, Gerdrutta, Gerda, Gertraut, Truddy
Griselda - Grissel
Gwendolyn - Gwen, Wendy

Hannah - Anna, Nan, Nanny
Harriet/Harriot - Hat, Hatty
Helen/Helena - Ella, Ellen, Eleanor, Elena, Elnora, Ellie, Lena, Nell, Nelly, Nora
Heloise - Eloise, Lois
Henrietta - Etta, Hank, Hetty, Nettie
Hermione - Hermie
Hepsibah - Hipsie
Hester/Hesther - Esther, Hessy, Hetty, Hitty
Honora/Honoria - Norah, Nora

Irene - Rena
Isabel/Isabella - Elizabeth, Belle, Bella, Bib, Tibbie

Jane - Janie, Jean, Jennie, Jessie, Joan
Janet - Jane
Jeannette - Etta, Janet, Jean, Jessie, Nettie
Jemima - Mima
Jesicca - Jess, Jessie
Joan/Joanna/Johanna - fem of John, Nonie
Joanna/Johannah - Joan, Jody, Hannah
Josepha/Josephine - Jo, Jody, Joey, Josey, Fina, Pheny
Joyce - Jo, Joy
Juanita - Nettie, Nita
Judith - Judy Julia/Julie - Jill
Juliet - Julia

Kate - Catharine
Katharine/Katherine - Catharine, Katie, Kay, Kit, Kittiy
Keziah - Kizzie

Letitia....Lettie, Lettice, Titia, Tish Lillian...Lil, Lilly, Lolly Louise/Louisa....Lou, Vicey Lucretia...Creesey Lucinda...Cindy, Lucy Lula....Lou Lydia...Liddy

Ladosca - Doaky
Laura - Laurinda
Lavinia - Viney
Lena - Helena or Madaline
Lenora - Lee, Nora
Letitia - Lettie, Lettice, Titia, Tish
Lillian - Lil, Lily, Lolly
Lorinda - Laurinda
Lorraine - Lee
Louisa/Louise - Lou, Louie, Vicey
Lucia - fem of Lucius
Lucretia - Creesey
Lucinda - Cindy, Lucy
Lula - Lou
Lydia - Liddy

Mabel - Amabel
Madalene - Maud, maun
Magdalena - Lena, Maggie, Molly
Malvina - Mal, Vinnie
Margaret - Gritty, Mag, Maggy, Margo, Meg, Meggy, Metta, Peg, Peggy
Margery/Marjory - Madge, Margie
Marian - Marianne
Marion - Mary
Martha - Mat, Matty, Pat, Patty, Patsy
Mary - Marie, May, Moll, Molly, Poll, Polly
Mathilda/Matilda - Mat, Matty, Patty, Tilda, Tillie
Minerva - Nurvy, Minnie
Minnie - Mary
Mintora - Mintie, Minte, Minty
Miriam - Mary
Myrtle - Myrtie, Myrt

Nancy - Nannie, Nan, Nance, Agness
Nellie/Nelly - Ellen, Helen, Eleanor
Norah/Nora - Honora, Leonora, Eleanor

Octavia - Tave, Tavy
Olivia - Livvie, Liv

Paula - fem of Paulus
Paulina - Pauline
Phillis - Phyllis
Philipana - Pena, Penny, Peney
Polly - Mary, Pol
Priscilla - Prissy, Sissy

Rebecca/Rebekah - Becky, Beck, Reba
Rhoda - Roady
Rosina - Rosey, Rose
Roxana - Roxy

Sarah - Sal, Sally
Sibbilla -- Sibby
Sophia - Sophy, Suffy, Sop
Sophronia - Fina, Sop
Susan/Susahhan - Anna, Sue, Suke, Sukky, Susie, Susy
Sylvia - fem of Sylvanus

Temperance - Tempe, Tempie
Theodora - Dora
Theresa - Terry, Tracy
Thomasa/Thomasine - Tamzine

Ursula - Suly

Valeria - Valerie
Verona - Runnie, Rennie
Virginia - Jenny, Jen, Jane

Wilhemina - Mina,Minnie, Minella, Wilma, Wilmett, Wilmot
Winifred - Winnie

Cornelius - Neal
Elisha - Eli, Lish, Eeel, Elisa
Frederick - Eric, Friedreich, Fred
Jehiel - Hile Jonathan - John, Nathan
Howard - Howie
Lawrence - Laraus, Lars, Lassey, Laurie
Matthew - Mathias, Matt, Thiess
Nathaniel - Nathan, Nat
Nicholas - Nick, Claus, Clase
Richard - Ricky, Dick, Ricardo
William - Billy, Ole, Wolle, Wilhelm, Will, Willie

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