This question is not asked only to the Wikitree community but to genealogy in general.
I have seen in many American profiles, most usully in the 19th century, the use of a surname (usually maternal) as a child's middle name and sometimes as their first name. I come across it quite often and it is great tool to help identify ancestors, especially maternal ancestors.
In the greater discipline of genealogy, does this phenomenon have a name? Is it part of the genealogical education process to learn about it and to look for it?
For those of us without a formal genealogy training, do you often see it and has it helped you to identify parents, grandparents, and family lines?
As just one example, my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Savage Umphlet takes her middle name from her mother's surname: Nancy Savage.
There are no formal records that tell us her mother's surname, daughter Nancy is known only to the official records as the daughter of John Umphlet and Nancy Unknown. It is from the back of an old photo that we see the explanation:
While searching for her birth parents I now have a surname to look for: Savage. As I see this repeat again and again, I being to look for particular maternal ancestors surnames when I see odd first or middle names that look more like a surname. I have one line where a son and grandson both have the middle name Richardson and the mother's surname is unknown. I'm convinced that the surname is Richardson and I've concentrated my search efforts there.
I'd love to hear all of your opinions and experiences with these naming conventions.