The Royal Tradition of Familial Baby Names

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
There has been quite a bit of discussion in our household over the naming of the newest Princess.

Having our own little Alice and the girl next door called Charlotte, there have been two little girls very excited to see whether their name would be chosen.

I guess the girl next door won, but Alice was not to be disappointed. Elizabeth is also her second name.

I really love the tradition of naming babies after family members. It is obviously something that is important in the Royal household, but what about you? Have you used family names when naming your own children?

We did a mixture.

When I was studying New Zealand history I discovered that Maori had a long tradition of naming their babies after family members who had passed away around or near to the time of the birth, or named after significant places or important events. I think it's a wonderful tie to the past - a link to honour those who have made our existence possible. For Maori, before they had their written language, it was a way of recording past events.

Our eldest son Hugh takes his name from at least 5 generations of Hugh's. There's a family legend involving the original Hugh who sailed out to New Zealand from Scotland, but that is a story for another day. His middle name is after a New Zealand judge who was my husband's godfather. But we later found out it was also a surname on my husband's side.

Our eldest daughter's first name is a name we chose because we liked it, but her second name is Frances, after her paternal grandmother. Many (not all) of her first born girl cousins have the same second name in honour of their grandmother who passed away before she even met any of her grandchildren.

Our third child's second name is after my maternal Grandfather, Roy Spencer, MBE. I have always liked the name Spencer, and I once promised my dear Grandad that one day I would name one of my children after him. Probably a foolish promise to make, but in my youthful enthusiasm it was a way of me telling him how much I loved him.

And Elizabeth was chosen as a second name for Alice. It is a favourite family name going back through my mother's lineage. We can trace it as far back as the early 1800's. There is an Elizabeth in every generation.

How do you choose your names? Do you mix it up like we did, or are you like the royals and go for family names through and through?


Anonymous said...

All 3 of our children have 'family' middle names: grandparents and a very special great-aunt. Always knew we'd do that; in fact we chose the middle names first then found names we liked that went with them. Love the tradition and hope the children have the best character traits of their namesakes also.

Gracie Saylor said...

We prayed about what to name each of our children and purposely did think about family names. However we were chagrined to be profusely thanked when we named our oldest daughter, Mary Kathrine, which though spelled slightly differently was her maternal grandmother's name! :)

Elizabeth Collins said...

Ohhhhhh - I love talking names, and meanings and the history behind them (family)!

Our children both have Biblical first names - with meanings we found to be important and significant, while we didn't pray specifically over which bible name to call them both; we took a long time choosing them.

Both of them have two middle names, and both of these middle names are family ones!

I hope they both grow to love and cherish all three of their names for different reasons!

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