Unusual Given Names of Ancestors

In developing your family tree have you come across some given names (first or middle names) in which you wonder where did that name come from? Here are some thoughts on how over the years some given names have come about.

First, many given names (especially middle names for females) for a baby are a family surname, so that name is carried on. So that could be clue of a missing surname, found actually with a child born later.

Next, many babies are given names for notable or famous people of the times such as a hero, a president, actor or singer. An example in 1841 after the early death of US President William Henry Harrison, many newborn boys were named ‘William Henry Harrison’ followed by the family surname.

Then many parents named the baby with a positive upbeat name such as Happy, Wise, Famous, Beauty, Celestial, Success, and Divinity.  

Some babies were named for a family hometown or where they were born. You might find: Austin, Brooklyn, Albany, Florida, Carolina, Arizona, Paris, Nazareth, Syria, Arabia, or Zealand.

Names many times came from the Bible, the people written up in the holy book.

Some given names may appear strange today but back when given to the baby (1800s) it could have been a very acceptable name. Also the spelling for some names have changed over the years. Always look for any spelling variations.

Photos: President William Henry Harrison, actress Paris Hilton, and actor Happy Anderson.

Related FamilyTree.com blogs:

Every Name


Differences in Names

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