Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A-Z 2013 'U' is for Uncles and Aunts - sidestepping the direct line!

Trees don't normally just grow straight up, they branch outwards - and no 'family tree' is without it's 'side branches', the Uncles and Aunts! The trouble is, a lot of Family Tree templates don't allow for more than one child - which means recording multiple siblings gets complicated.

For some generations I have genealogies that encompass siblings - for others it's a single line of  Grandparent-parent-child lineage.

To see the way parents used names from different generations is interesting, but in larger families once they get beyond formal or familiar naming patterns they often start getting a little more adventurous!

Take my maternal Grandfather, Joseph Edward Beattie; as I've mentioned previously he was exactly named after his own father (so he's JEB Jnr). Not that unusual, until you realise he wasn't the firstborn, but the 5th son and 8th child of 15 siblings! Normally you'd expect the first son to be named after his father, so why bypass so many children?  (beats me! :-/)

Anyway, here they are in order of birth:
John, Jane Elspeth, Mary Ann, David Johnstone, George, Rachel, Thomas, Joseph Edward, Charles, James,  Isabella, Robertina, Janet, Andrew and finally, Charlotte.

(see what I mean about the names getting a little more adventurous towards the end!)

The joy of all this is that most of these went on to marry and produce children - and again there is the repetition of names (most of them had a 'Joseph Edward' at some point!)

Seeing the recycling of names helps when digging backwards, too - you often unearth previously unknown Uncles and Aunts and think 'Ah - so that's where the name came from!'

When it came to deciding on names for our own children, hubby and I decided their first names should be ones that were not already in the family, although we did use 'recycled' ones for their middle names as a nod towards tradition.  Imagine finding out from an elderly aunt, 'Oh your Grandad had a brother called ****** and a sister called ******.....!" It was news to me, as I'd not done any of the family history and knew very little about that side of the family. The Uncles and Aunts strike again!

(Mind you, I haven't found another Robertina, Isabella or Charlotte yet, but who knows.....!)


  1. My brother-in-law is the 4th son and he was named after his father, exactly. He says it's because his father was waiting for a son worthy to be named after him. I don't know about that.

    We did the same with our children, new first names and family middle names.

  2. When I was growing up there were as many as three identical names at a family gathering, from three generations. They were called Big, Middle and Little. Nothing like that in the present generation.

  3. I gave my sons new names but each have family names for middle and confirmation names.

  4. I have been working on a branch on my paternal grandmother's family. They were prolific, having 6 or more children. One family had 8 children, all with standard names for the mid-1800s. Their last child they named "Elektra". Go figure.