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The Lovely Name that Gives Us Contentment! (1 of 4)
Steve N. Wagers
1. Have you ever wondered why your parents gave you the name they did? Were you named after an ancestor? Famous personality? Family tradition? Or do you carry one of the cute contemporary names fashionably spelled as no one else you've ever heard of? One subtle clue in genealogical research, which is most often overlooked is names or naming patterns of families.
2. Until about the 14th century most people had only one name. It has been estimated that in medieval England 3 of 5 men carried the name of Henry, Robert, John, William or Richard. As towns and cities grew, so did the necessity to further identify individuals and families, thus requiring a second or surname. With few exceptions there were four ways surnames or permanent family names were adopted. They were:
a. Patronymics - The fathers name with "son" immediately after it. i. e. Peterson, Adamson, Woodson
b. Place Names - Words that identify where a person or family lived or came from. i. e. Hill, Lake, Wood, Glades, March
c. Occupational names - What a person did for a living. i. e. Miller, Butcher, Baker, Tailor, Butler
d. Nicknames - Usually based on a persons personality or characteristics. i. e. Short, Long, Savage, White, Brown.
3. For centuries female children were considered the property of their father and carried his last name until they married, at which time became the property of their husbands and adopted the last name of their husband.
4. For several hundred years the most popular names given to newborns were those of biblical persons or saints. Some religious faiths today still require a saints name at baptism and confirmation. In the 1600's the Puritans began giving their offspring names which reflected their purity, morals and doctrine.
5. In the 16th and 17th century the people began giving their children not only a first or Christian name and surname, but also a middl ...
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