THE GAME OF THE NAME

 


Four generations



To the best of our knowledge it is not common practice anymore to name children after their grandparents but back in the old days this was quite different. In fact there was a certain system in naming children after their ancestors which will be helpful in searching a family tree, in particular before the introduction of surnames in 1811. Beware though: it was not enforced by law, it was a custom. In case you're not familiar with the phenomenon of renaming, this is how it worked:

     The first son was named after his paternal grandfather

     The second son was named after his maternal grandfather

     The third son was named after his paternal greatgrandfather
       (Note: genealogists sometimes have a difference of opinion on this because the third son could also be named after his father's oldest brother)

     The fourth son was named after his maternal greatgrandfather

     The fifth, etc. son(s) may be named after a brother or an uncle of one of his parents who had passed away.
 

For daughters the same system was applied from the maternal point of view, thus:

     The first daughter was named after her maternal grandmother

     The second daughter was named after her paternal grandmother

     The third daughter was named after her maternal greatgrandmother

     The fourth daughter was named after her paternal greatgrandmother

     The fifth daughter ..... etc.
 

Some exceptions:

     If a child's (great)grandfather or mother had past away while the first in line was still living, this could be
       reason to set the priorities the other way around.

    In case the mother passed away as a consequence of the birth of a child, the infant would be named after the
       mother, regardless gender (all first names were both in male as in female). Of course if the father had died
       before a child was born the baby -either girl or boy- would get his name.

     The first child born from a second (or third or ...) marriage of a parent, would often be named after the
        spouse who had passed away.

     Many children died as an infant. The next baby that was born (same gender) was named the same as the
       child that had passed away.