Breadcrumbs is a series on the Marian's Roots & Rambles blog that looks at ways to leave tangible breadcrumbs behind for your future descendants to find.]
No, silly, not your ancestors! Your family! Did you use any naming patterns when naming your own children? What clues did you leave for your future descendants?
Naming patterns are an important part of genealogical research. Many cultures have used naming patterns. Even ancestors who did not follow the exact naming patterns of their ethnic group may still have named their children after family members. By looking at the names of children we can apply what we know about the naming patterns to try to determine the names of the grandparents. (That's a bit of an over simplification but you get the idea.) It's amazing how effective it is in genealogical research.
There seems to be a free-for-all with naming children these days. And yes, parents should be free to name their children whatever they want. But perhaps what was old will come back in and it will become hip again to name children after family members.
Both of my parents were very interested in genealogy when they started having children. My oldest brother is a junior. That's an easy enough pattern to figure out. Our dad had been named after his grandfather, so if descendants look carefully they will find an extended pattern.
My second brother was given the first and last name of a Revolutionary War ancestor. It's a very cool Dutch name and I think he's always been proud of it.
I was named after my grandmother, Marian, and since she died long before my birth I've always been grateful for that connection. My parents gave me my great grandmother's last name as a middle name. I didn't always love that but I've grown to appreciate it more over the years.
Looking back I think my parent's did a great job naming their kids with a nod toward family history.
So how did my husband and I do? Not too bad really, even if it was mostly by accident.
My oldest son is a junior. That will make it easy for future descendants to figure out that relationship.
My second son is named for my husband's brother who passed away before we were married. It also happened to be used commonly with my mother's German ancestors.
When my third son surprised us, my husband said, "This one is all yours. Name him whatever you like." And just right. I felt no guilt whatsoever in choosing a name without his consultation. He had gotten both of the first children after all. The only check my husband did was to make sure none of the potential names translated badly when spoken in French.
By this time, I was fairly obsessed with family history. I scoured the fan charts to find something interesting and unusual. I picked the most unique name out of the whole lot. It's a German last name and so makes a striking contrast when paired with Pierre-Louis.
I was not the originator of this brilliant idea. In fact, my great grandfather was given this as his first name as well. I've always had a fondness for my great grandfather. He had a larger than life reputation in our family. I was a bit hesitant because of that to bestow his name upon my son. But I did it anyway and almost nothing has made me prouder in this life.
The thing that I like the best was that I was in control of linking the past to the future. My name choices intentionally linked the generations. Young parents might not think of that until it's too late and their family is already established. If you get the chance, encourage newly married couples to consider traditional family names.
What about you? What names and naming patterns did you lay down for your descendants?
Photo credit: Photo by Identity Photogr@phy used under the creative commons license.