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Family Names: What treasures are hiding in your family tree?

Family Baby Names

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is an ancestral name, one that forms a strong link to his or her past, and more and more parents today are searching and researching their family trees to find names that have personal significance as well as style.  And with genealogical websites like ancestry.com, it’s now possible to dig deeper into the roots of the tree to find forgotten nuggets, maybe an unusual middle name of a great-grandmother, or an interesting maiden name that could work as a first.

Using the name of a living or fondly remembered relative has the satisfying benefit of conveying the essence of that loved one, in the hope of bestowing their admirable qualities on your child.  But even with a more distant forebear whom you might not have known, family stories of that person’s achievements can come alive again through the name, providing your child with an immediate and precious legacy.

I myself have not been able to trace my family history back more than a few generations, and for the most part the names reflect the Jewish immigrant experience: the expected Sarahs, Samuels (many), Sols and Sauls, Rachels, and Rebeccas, but there were a couple of more unusual, untranslated from the Yiddish, exceptions:

BLUMA

KALMAN

NAHOMA (called Nelly)

RAISEL

ZELIG

From my husband’s more mixed background (English/Guernsey French), we’ve found:

ADELAIDE

EDOUARD

ETIENNE

JEM

LETITIA

LOL (male, probably a nickname for LIONEL — in the days before laugh out loud)

LYDIE

MELVINA

OLIVE

PHILIPPE

THEODORA

I’ve used my father’s name Sam as the inspiration for daughter Chloe’s middle name Samantha, and Pam has incorporated one male ancestor of hers (a grandfather’s middle– Owen) and one of her husband’s (Leopold, which became the middle name of son Joe).

On the Name Talk forums you have already posted some wonderful family names of your own. (unicorngal put together a fascinating compendium a few months ago at http://nameberry.com/nametalk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2690&hilit=ancestor), including such gems as :

ALBERTINA

AMBROSE

ANDERS

CLEMMA

DINAH

JEMIMA

LINNEA

MERCY

NELIA

VIRGILIA

But I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg (to further mix my metaphors), which led me to think of this as a perfect crowd-sourced blog topic.

So let’s hear your own favorites from your family tree.  Have you incorporated them into your child’s name?  Do you plan to in the future?  Does you family have any particular naming traditions?

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