7 Ways To Find A Great Baby Name On Your Family Tree
So you’re looking for family names for your baby. But you’re not willing to pass on some monstrosity just to please mom or be sure you make it into Aunt Elfreda’s will. Rather, you want a name that carries on the best spirit of your family but that’s also wonderful in its own right.
You’re not alone. More than 70 percent of parents surveyed by nameberry say they used family names for their babies. Sometimes they varied the name to suit their taste or used a family name in the middle, but the main aim was to choose a name that honored their family lineage.
1. Survey Your Family For Ideas
Having a baby can be the perfect time to ask your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles to contribute all the family names and connections they can think of. You may be surprised at the far-flung relatives who emerge or the names that pop up that you never heard of before. When my husband and I asked our families for this information, for instance, we discovered long-lost relatives named Leopold, Owen, Jane, and Victor, all of which we liked as first names.
2. Look Beyond First Names To Surnames and Place Names
Past the usual Josephs and Elizabeths on our family trees were intriguing surnames such as Dillon and Early, along with a line of relatives from a town called Paisley, any of which could work as first names.
3. Climb Through Family Trees
Sites such as ancestry.com can help you climb into the further reaches of your family tree – or even someone else’s. Even if you don’t find any actual relatives there, you may be able to explore names used in families with the same surname as yours. So what if Clarissa or Clement may not be your bona fide second cousins 12 times removed? They could be, and maybe getting the era and the ethnicity right is close enough.
4. Consult Government Registries
More and more birth, marriage, and death records can be found online now, offering a wealth of information for the industrious baby namer. I was able to trace the Scottish side of my family back to the early 1800s with the help of Scotland’s online government resources where I discovered such delectable family names as Grey. And the new online Irish census records served up all the middle names and maiden names from my Irish grandmother’s family.
5. Search Other Historical Sources
Once you exhaust the available information on your own family, you can look through everything from old ship manifests such as those available on the Ellis Island site to the early Social Security popularity lists to old books available for free via kindle or google books for ideas of names and nicknames popular in the past.
6. Embrace the Nickname
One way to use a genuine family name but make it your own is to come up with a new nickname for Percival Charles III, calling your child Perry or Charley or maybe Mac instead of PC. Or you can go in another direction and call your child Maggie after grandma, for instance, but give her Magdalena rather than Margaret as a proper name.
7. Be Creative
You don’t need to be constrained by outmoded ideas or naming practices when spinning a family name to suit your child. Reviving great-grandma’s maiden name can be an excellent way to name a son after a female ancestor, for instance, and there’s no reason you can’t give your daughter your granddad’s first name in the middle. You can use a first letter as inspiration, or even look for a new name with the same meaning as an ancestral original.
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on January 20th, 2011 at 10:47 am
Mac instead of PC. LOL, that’s a solid joke!!
on January 20th, 2011 at 10:51 am
I love this article! I am always trying to dig up names from our family tree. Thank you so much for even more ideas.
on January 20th, 2011 at 11:44 am
The tradition in my family is to use a family name as a middle name. The family name can be a first or last name. So far, I’ve used my maternal grandpa Roy (LOVE this name) and husband’s maternal and paternal grandpas both named James (maybe not as creative, but sentimental plus you can’t go wrong with this classic). Siblings have used Mitchell, Barron, Thompson, Maughan, John, Kate, Shay, and Ann. There are 10 more but I’m drawing a blank.
on January 20th, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Awesome job! This has really helped me! 🙂
on January 20th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
I’m sorry I know this isn’t the place for this, but I can’t contact you any other way, I’ve tried. I’ve been trying to register for a couple of months now and the confirmation code does not appear on the screen, I’ve tried to contact the board administrator but my computer won’t use the mail thing that pops up. I don’t know what else to do, it has been really annoying me. Thank you.
on January 20th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
I love using place names as family names. Two of my top choices are names of towns different grandparents were born in. One, Ada, has the added benefit of being one grandmother’s first name as well as her and my grandfather’s birthplace. Another name I am considering is the title of my grandfather’s profession.
on January 20th, 2011 at 8:32 pm
In Jewish tradition, many people usually use initials of a loved one’s name who has died. So instead of using Isadore (great grandfather’s name) as my cousin’s MN, my aunt and uncle came up with Isaac.
On the other hand, my brother and SIL chose to use our mom’s full name as my niece’s MN, instead of changing it and just using the initial. I love it!
on February 3rd, 2011 at 7:46 am
My husband has the family name Bastian a few generations back. So when our son was born, he got Sebastian as a middle name! It was a very creative way of including a family name.
Baby Names ~ Amberlight Images, Newborn Baby Photography, Wirral Chester Liverpool Said
on May 19th, 2017 at 7:01 am
[…] traditional? Look at a historical or family connection. It’s a lovely tribute to a much loved relative to name a baby after […]
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