10/06/2019
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Scottish traditions: using naming patterns for family history

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Did you know that that name given to a child in Scotland often followed a particular naming pattern that can help give you clues when tracing your family tree? We show you how this pattern works and how it can help you when tracing your Scottish ancestors.

Scottish naming patterns

FindMyPast wrote a blog that lays out two alternative patterns – the most common one is:

  • The first son would be named after the father's father (variation is after the mother's father)
  • The second after the mother's father (variation is the father's father)
  • The third son would be named after the father
  • The fourth son would be named after the father's oldest brother (variation is after the father's paternal grandfather)
  • The fifth son would be named after the mother's oldest brother (variation is after the mother's paternal grandfather)

and for girls:

  • First daughter named after the mother's mother (variation is after the father's mother)
  • Second daughter named after the father's mother
  • Third daughter named after the mother
  • Fourth daughter named after the mother's oldest sister (variation is after the mother's maternal grandmother)
  • Fifth daughter named after the father's oldest sister (variation is after the father's maternal grandmother)

Using naming patterns in family history

As you can see, the above pattern could be of real help when guiding you towards the correct person in records such as the census, birth, marriage & death records and other family history sources. It can also help you concentrate your search, particularly if you’re dealing with unusual first names repeating down the centuries.

Obviously the above are only a guide – many people might have chosen a family member’s middle name when naming a child, or made their own unrelated choice. It’s also possible that family tensions can play a part, with people avoiding one of the naming patterns so as not to name a child after a member of the family whom they disliked.

Image copyright Taro Taylor

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