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Question re. naming children

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Re: Question re. naming children

Postby Guy » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:32 am

DesparateAnge wrote:Morning and many thanks to you all! It as as I suspected then, a 2nd child sometimes named after a 1st dead child. Nick-names don't help either do they!

Thanks again,


I would differentiate between "a 2nd child sometimes named after a 1st dead child" and "a 2nd child being given the same name as an earlier child".

In the first instance there is the tribute to or the attempt to have the 2nd child living for the 1st child, whilst the second example is all about a tradition to carry the particular name forward in the family.

Often only one child is given the name that is then passed on to one of their children but in other families every child or every child of the right sex is given the name normally as a middle name.
In other cases as has been mentioned a second child may be given the same name as an elder sibling even though that sibling is alive and well.

I remember scanning some parish registers about eight years ago and a family caught my eye, the same name kept cropping up in the register. When I finished the days scanning I checked the register and the couple had six sons one after the other (with only about 12-15 months between each birth) who they gave a certain name to, each time that child died within a few weeks or months. I assumed in desperation the seventh child was given a different name and he seemingly survived (at least I could see no mention of him in the burial registers during the next 10 years).
The couple did not have any other children registered either so it is possible the moved out of the parish.

I must admit I did feel for them and the anguish they must have felt even though it was not uncommon at the time for children to die young.

As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.
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Re: Question re. naming children

Postby Gilly72 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:54 pm

I know you have already replied to all those who have responded to your query but I am quite interested in this practice and have found, as others have, instances of the names of both living and dead children given to a subsequent sibling. The practice is strange to us today (the former being particularly unfathomable) because of the modern emphasis on the individual. The more unusual the name/spelling of the name the better it is in some cases!! Yesterday, strong traditions regarding naming patterns and remembering dead family members were of greater importance, even if names of children were repeated. Life was more about your place within the community and the family.

In one of my families, three children were given the name William, and in another two girls were called Sarah Elizabeth. All after dead siblings though. What is very common, however, is first names repeated as second names of living children (or vice-versa), eg. first son: William, second son: John William. Even this is something we would not do now.

What is slightly more unusual is two living children being given the same name. You assume one has died until you find that both are still alive. As mentioned by many above, it does seem to occur mostly in Scotland, but I have found an example in my family in Northumbria.

Just thought I would give my thoughts to this interesting subject.
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