Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Middle Names

Time of 16 August has an article by Merrill Fabry Now You Know: Why Do We Have Middle Names? It goes into their history and adoption.
One of my early lessons in genealogy was about their significance. I inherited a middle name, Digby, from my father and his father. Looking through the English civil registration records for the birth of my great grandfather in the 20 year period around when I thought he might have been born, in those days on microfilm, I found many instances of Robert Reid. There was just one just one with middle name Digby. It turned out to be just as helpful for the previous generation as it was his mother's maiden name.
Did you know you can search for middle names on FreeBMD? In the First name(s) box enter * and a space before the middle name. It works up until the middle of 1910 when the indexes switch to initials instead of full middle names.

5 comments:

Ian Barker said...

My observation is that in the mid-late 18th and early 19th centuries, the only people with middle names among my family were children of mothers who had died in childbirth or the immediate post-parturient period, in which case the middle name was the mother's maiden name.

Celia Lewis said...

A general labourer ancestor of my son-in-law was the only boy with a middle name for a number of years around his birth in Feb 1822, listed in the parish registers. Since he was illegitimate, I suspect his middle name was the surname of the father - and only one family of that surname lived in the village. A way for the unmarried mother to indicate to the church and families who the father was-? We'd need to do DNA testing on the males in that line to be certain...

Gail B said...

As Celia Lewis has indicated, a middle name for a male may well be a way of indicating the father of a middle child. In my experience, it also could allude to a wealthy patrician family on one side, hoping an inheritance might come forth? In my personal family tree, a surname has been carried through the male side for at least 5 generations, tying them back to the family --- originally from Norfolk.

On another note, I advise all to-be-parents to please try to name their child with the first name and call them by that name. In my own family the first three of us siblings are called by our middle names, yet passports, licenses, health cards, etc all are in our obscure first names. Times change, but the legal ramifications can be daunting.

E. Gail B in St. C.

Shirley said...

I have an interesting situation in my family history. My paternal grandfather and his siblings did not have middle names. No one in the family has indicated that they know why this is. All other generations of this family had middle names.

Gail B said...

My correction. In my earlier comment I meant, of course, bastard child, not middle child. A tried and true way of naming the begetter.

still E. Gail B in St. C.