Family Names

What’s In A Name?

Now that I’m “retired” I have time to get back into my genealogy. My loyal readers (I do have loyal readers, right?) know the problems I’ve encountered researching my Campbell line. I have spent untold dollars on DNA tests for all three aspects for using DNA with genealogy (as in not for medical reasons). While I have found many cousins on my mother’s side, and on my paternal grandmother’s side, not many Campbell’s. My joke is that my male Campbell cousins won’t do a DNA test for fear of being tied to a cattle raid in the 1500’s! Not true of course, but I find it funny.

So let’s take a look at the typical naming conventions used in Scotland over time.

According to “The Scottish Onomastic Child-naming Pattern,” by John Barrett Robb, another naming system called the “ancestral pattern,” generally went as follows:

The first son was named for his father’s father.

The second son was named for his mother’s father.

The third son was named for his father’s father’s father.

The fourth son was named for his mother’s mother’s father.

The fifth son was named for his father’s mother’s father.

The sixth son was named for his mother’s father’s father.

The seventh through tenth sons were named for their father’s four great-grandfathers.

The eleventh through fourteenth sons were named for their mother’s four great-grandfathers.

The first daughter was named for her mother’s mother.

The second daughter was named for her father’s mother.

The third daughter was named for her mother’s father’s mother.

The fourth daughter was named for her father’s father’s mother.

The fifth daughter was named for her mother’s mother’s mother.

The sixth daughter was named for her father’s mother’s mother.

The seventh through tenth daughters were named for their mother’s four great-grandmothers.

The eleventh through fourteenth daughters were named for their father’s four great-grandmothers.

https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Scotland_Names_Personal

First, we’ll generally ignore the “eleventh though fourteenth” parts. Not only is that way too many children, I don’t have any families on the Campbell side with more than 9 offspring. Still, 12 kids running around the house? No thanks! Of course that does mean more farm hands are available.

A simpler version is like this.

The Scottish, for the most part, had a naming pattern which can be seen in many families. The pattern generally went as follows:

The first son was named after the father’s father.

The second son after the mother’s father.

The third son after the father.

The first daughter after the mother’s mother.

The second daughter after the father’s mother.

The third daughter after the mother.

https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Scotland_Names_Personal

My one and only male Campbell DNA match is with my my 3rd great grandfather’s generation, James Richard Campbell Jr. My cousin’s line stems from James Jr’s. brother Richard Campbell. I was very lucky finding my cousin as he had paperwork from the area of Pennsylvania that our family lived in the 1790’s or so. With paperwork to back up the DNA match I knew that I had a very reliable match.

But the names I have are not following the pattern I mentioned earlier. Since I had a Junior, it is reasonable to assume that his father would be a Senior. Good to go there?

Let’s follow the naming pattern starting with my grandfather, Herbert. As the first male child, he should have been named for his paternal grandfather. But he wasn’t. I can find no other Herbert’s in earlier generations.

Next we have Herbert’s father (my great grandfather), Samuel. Following tradition, my father should have been named Samuel. He wasn’t (Donald). And Samuel, being the third male child should have been named for his father’s father’s father (his great grandfather). Nope, he was James Sr. Again, the James Sr. is somewhat speculative. I can only assume that I have the “Senior” correct since, I know that his son was a “Junior”.

The pattern isn’t holding here. Is it due to becoming “Americanized” and the traditions have faded or am I missing children of my earliest ancestors that have come to America? James Jr. is actually the fifth son born to James Sr. That would mean he would have been named for his father’s mother’s father. And that information I do not possess.

James Sr. is where I am currently brick walled. I have a lead for his parents, John Campbell, Jr., and Jean Ralston. Here we go with the Junior again! I have this John Jr. born in Scotland and dying in Pennsylvania. If the naming convention holds true that would make him the third son of a John Sr. Alas, according to what I have found he is the eldest son. I will readily admit that the two Johns are best guesses. Even James Sr. is unverified.

To further ignore the naming, my eldest sister should have been named Dora (mother’s mother), my brother Herbert (father’s father), my elder sister Josephine (father’s mother), and me Talmadge (mother’s father). Not a single one. I cannot find any ancestors with our given names at all!

I didn’t know of this pattern when my sons were born. But in a way we followed it. Son-the-eldest is not named the same as my father but they have the same initials (DSC). Son-the-younger is named for his mother’s father, we just switched the first and middle names.

Peace,
B

Twitter Instagram FaceBook