SCOTTISH NAMING PATTERNS
The following are some examples of various Scottish naming patterns. The reference website is noted following each example:
Scots often named children by following a simple set of rules:
1st son named after father's father
2nd son named after mother's father
3rd son named after father
1st daughter named after mother's mother
2nd daughter named after father's mother
3rd daughter named after mother
Although this was not universally applied (some families adhered strictly, others “dabbled” and still others ignored it), it can still be helpful in determining the correct entry when confronting the relative lack of information in the OPR’s. It can also give rise to great confusion when eight children of the same family in a small parish name their offspring according to convention! The use of traditional naming patterns gradually declined during the 19th century.
The application of naming conventions and the general desire to ensure that a family forename perpetuated through the generations, sometimes led to duplication of forenames within a family. For example, where a family wished to adhere strictly to the traditional naming pattern, and both grandfathers bore the same forename, that name might be given to more than child. If a child died young, parents might name a later child after the dead sibling. In unfortunate cases, the name may have been used more than once.
Sometimes there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the naming: a child might be named after the minister, the midwife, the doctor, an employer, an influential personage in the community or a close friend, who might appear as a witness to the birth. Witnesses are not always given in OPR entries, but where they are, sometimes (as in Dundee) you will find their relationship to child, if any, noted, e.g. “Charles Jobson, grandfather”, “Mrs Janet Speid, father’s mother”.
First son - named after child's paternal grandfather
Second son - named after child's maternal grandfather
Third son - named after child's father
Subsequent sons - named after uncles, cousins, or whomever First
First daughter - named after child's maternal grandmother
Second daughter - named after child's paternal grandmother
Third daughter - named after child's mother
Subsequent daughters - named after aunts, cousins, or whomever
First Son is named for the Father's Father
Second Son is named for the Mothers Father
Third Son is named for the Father's Grandfather, Fraternal
Fourth Son is named for the Mothers Grandfather, Maternal
Fifth Son is named for the Fathers Grandfather, Maternal
Sixth Son is named for the Mothers Grandfather, Fraternal
Seventh thru tenth Sons are named for the Fathers Great Grandfathers
Tenth thru Fourteenth Sons for the Mothers Great Grandfathers
First Daughter is named for the Mothers mother
Second Daughter is named for the Fathers Mother, Maternal
Third Daughter is named for the Mothers Grandmother, Fraternal
Fourth Daughter is named for the Fathers Grandmother, Fraternal
Fifth Daughter is named for the Mothers Grandmother, Maternal
Sixth Daughter is named for the Fathers Grandmother
Seventh thru tenth Daughter are named for the Mothers, Maternal Great Grandmothers
Tenth Thru fourteenth Daughter for the Fathers Great Grandmothers
In some cases you will find that the order is reversed with the first and second children, i.e. the First-born son being named after the Mother's father and the Second-born son after the Father's father. If this is the case then the daughters are also usually reversed.
You will also find instances where a child is named 'out of pattern', after an Aunt or Uncle who has died, or after an admired other relative or friend of the parent.
These are only general guidelines and were certainly not always followed.
The Scottish named their children as follows, although this was not always the case!
1st Son named after Fathers Father
2nd Son named after Mothers Father
3rd Son named after Father
4th Son named after Father's oldest brother
5th Son named after 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother
1st Daughter named after Mothers Mother
2nd Daughter named after Fathers Mother
3rd Daughter named after Mother
4th Daughter named after Mothers oldest sister
5th Daughter named after 2nd oldest sister or Fathers oldest sister
1. The way in which Scottish families named their children can be extremely helpful when trying to trace ancestors. The convention was as follows:
1st son named after paternal grandfather
2nd son named after maternal grandfather
1st daughter named after maternal grandmother
2nd daughter named after paternal grandmother
Subsequent children were usually given other family names including those of their parents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Although there are exceptions, on the whole this custom was followed in Scotland until the early years of the 20th Century.
2. It was also common to find two or more children within a family being given the same Christian name if the first holder of the name died during the mother's childbearing years. The practice of using the same name more than once is particularly evident where the child who died was named after a grandparent.
3. During the early - mid 19th Century it became more common for Scottish children to be given middle names. Often this was the maiden surname of the child's mother or grandmother although sometimes a child's second name used the surname of a close friend.
Of course, these patterns are helpful in tracing ancestors, but they can be confusing. For example, my father was called Samuel Lennox after his grandfather, but his cousin was also called Samuel Lennox after the same grandfather. If the original Samuel Lennox had had more than two sons, then no doubt there would have been more Samuel Lennox cousins and more potential for confusion!! Families worked around these problems by various methods. My father was always known by his second name, Gordon, while his cousin was always known as Sam.