My Dad was one of four boys in the family, which offered my grandparents plenty of opportunities to name them after male members of the family. So, I wondered who was named after whom. Here’s what I came up with.
- Robert William (left in picture)- I don’t know where “Robert” came from but “William” is the boys’ father.
- Francis Henry (right in picture) – “Francis” is the boys’ paternal grandfather. And “Henry” is the boys’ maternal grandfather. The funny thing is he didn’t go by either name. He was 12 pounds at birth and was stuck with the moniker “Tubby” for his entire life.
- Richard Charles (my Dad) (bottom w/bow tie in picture) – I have no clue where either name came from. There are no “Richard”s or “Charles”s in the family. My guess is they named him after a family friend or a favorite priest. I do know that Dad said his parents considered naming him “James,” but decided it sounded like a chauffeur’s name, and they didn’t want him to become a chauffeur!
- William Edward (top in picture) – Again, “William” is for the boys’ father. “Edward” was a popular name on his mother’s side, but there were none in the living generations. Not sure about this origin.
It’s an interesting mental exercise to think about where the names came from. But more importantly, it can be a terrific clue in genealogy research. If you see names repeat over generations you can have a little more assurance that you have the right children associated with the right parents. There is a terrific and extensive article on naming patterns on Genealogy.com. I would encourage you to check it out. You can find it here.
But before I leave this brief homage to naming patterns I have to tell you about my husband’s Uncle Morris. “Morris” is a huge name in the Foulk Family. You see it repeated over and over all the way back to the Revolutionary War Era. Apparently Dr. Morris Foulk, my husband’s uncle, was either very proud of the name or himself or both.
Here are the names of his children:
- Jeffery Morris Foulk
- Kenneth Morris Foulk
- Richard Morris Foulk
I’m not kidding. He gave all three sons his name for their middle name.
Do you have any fun or interesting naming patterns in your family tree? I’d love to hear about them.
In the meantime, look to the given names for clues – and great stories.