My Obsession with Naming Patterns January 5th, 2012
I’m coming clean today about my addiction to naming patterns. My brother is a 4th generation William Moore, and that wasn’t even the beginning of the Williams. In my old “Original” family file, I had 180 Williams in a database of 4,349 people. That’s 4% of my tree being made up of men named William. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things but in my new revamped file, where I still have two branches of the tree to add, there are 49 Williams out of 923 people. That’s already 5% without adding in the Taylors, Crabbs, or Webbs. To anyone but me that doesn’t seem like much but I know for a fact I have 475 people with the Taylor surname in my old “Original” file.
I think it’s this over abundance of Williams that has led to my fascination with naming patterns. I’ve used naming patterns for the Scottish ancestry on my father’s side of the tree. I’ve talked about naming patterns on the blog. I’ve printed out every naming pattern variation I’ve ever come across online. I’ve tried to find patterns in my families that don’t follow a naming pattern. When I say obsession, I mean OBSESSION.
One thing I haven’t done with naming patterns is see if they pertain at all to my Mays line. The Mays family were the most prolific of my lines, so it would be really interesting to dissect them!
The naming pattern rules I’m using were found on the genealogy.com website. The article was written by Donna Przecha. An important part of the article is that you can’t put too much credence in naming patterns. They are very helpful if your family happened to follow them, but not everyone did. Especially if there are skeletons in the closet or a lot of children. A lot of times you can also count on a “regional” or “period” name. You’ll see it most in census records where you see so many names at once. I have only heavily researched the Ohio/Kentucky/Virginia and New Jersey areas. However, I can tell you the names Mahala and Arminda are more common to the rural Ohio/Kentucky area then New Jersey. In New Jersey you’ll find a lot more traditional names; Catherine, George, Lewis, Josephine.
- First son: Father’s father.
- Second son: Mother’s father.
- Third son: Father
- Fourth son: Father’s eldest brother.
- First daughter: Mother’s mother.
- Second daughter: Father’s mother.
- Third daughter: Mother
- Fourth daughter: Mother’s eldest sister.
- William and Anna’s first son, James. I don’t know the name of William’s father, so there is no way to see if the pattern holds up.
- William and Anna’s first daughter, Frances Susan. Frances gets both her names from her grandmothers. Her first name after her father’s mother and her middle name after her mothers. Frances went by both names at different points in her life.
- William and Anna’s second daughter, Nancy. I don’t see any instance of Nancy in the immediate family, but I know they use this name often in future generations.
- William and Anna’s third daughter, Rebecca. She is not named after her mother.
- William and Anna’s second son, John Harmon. Anna’s father was named John, so this fits with the pattern.
- William and Anna’s third son, William. He does have the same name as his father.
- William and Anna’s fourth daughter, Elizabeth. Anna’s eldest sister was named Elizabeth.
- William and Anna’s fourth son, Thomas Lindsey. As far as I know, William’s eldest brother is named James. So this doesn’t fit in with the pattern.
So I came up 4/8 on the first four of each gender. That’s actually not bad especially with quite a few holes in the family picture. Another thing I noticed while looking over the siblings of each family for a few generation is a few middle names that most likely came from surnames that married into the family (ie. Harmon, Lindsey, Hudson). For the sake of research sake I also must mention that William’s brother, Nathan, had at least 18 children and I don’t think any of them followed any type of pattern.
Now the fun part would be to see if the Mays family follows their own pattern. Maybe I can make a chart and dissect the family names myself. Do you see what I mean by obsessed now?
Disclaimer: I am no expert at naming patterns. I’m not even sure about most of the information a generation above William and Anna. I used my “original” file to analyze this hypothesis. I haven’t delved deeply into Anna’s family yet, because I know it twists and turns amongst the Mays/Slusher/Whitt lines, so I decided to hold off until I had the rest of the tree re-added. That way I can keep moving forward instead of continuously going sideways for now.