Who Else Shares Your Given Name?

It can be fun to find out for whom an ancestor on your family tree was named for – their Namesake. It was quite common for decades to give a baby the name of another family member or sometimes a famous person, such as a U. S. President. An example: after the unexpected death of newly elected President William Henry Harrison in April 4, 1841, many children born in 1841 and 1842 were named for the former president; William Henry.

Not just a famous person or a relative can be a namesake, but given names in literature can be popular. The given name ‘Alice’ appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or Alice Longbottom in Harry Potter stories or in the book A Town Like Alice.

The given name of ‘Brian’ could have come from Brian David Josephson, a Nobel prize winner in physics, or Brian Wilson, a singer and musician, or Brian Mulroney, a former Canadian Prime Minister.

There is a good online site ‘Behind the Name‘ which provides hundreds of given names and notable people with the same name. Famous person in the field Noble Prize winner, Olympics stars, names from fiction, outstanding scientists, royalty, names from religion and mythology and even hurricane names. Remember given names include the middle name. Check also various spellings such as Robert and Bob.

A given name could actually be location; a family hometown or county. If you do come across an ancestor with a name that might be a place, it could prove to be a clue of where the family once lived.

Yes, it can be hard if an ancestor only used initials for their first and middle name. Try as many resources as possible to locate that full name.

Another type of given name could have been a family surname. Often used was a mother’s maiden name, allowing her family surname being carried on with the descendants.

The popularity of given names have changed over the decades. View this online site to see which given names in the United Kingdom were popular 100 years ago, 1914 to 2010.

Ask your living relatives to help get started. Checking out where individuals’ names came from can be an interesting project. A real family story could behind each name.

Photos: A baby given a name, selection of names and popular names in 1914.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Unusual Given Names

Abbreviations of Given Names

Family Nicknames

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