Can you help with Germanic naming practices

+9 votes
This profile is still one that is just a mystery to me.   I have found potential leads, but have never been able to connect the dots.   I am wondering if Germanic naming conventions could help.   The family is simple because of so few males in the lineage.  

John J Becker

his son, John Frederick, second son was George J (he died as an infant)

John Frederick named his son John Justus

I am wondering if there are some "hints" in this naming pattern, since one of the candidates I have is a Johann Jost for this person.  And another candidate named Johannes has a father name Johann Georg
WikiTree profile: John Becker
in Genealogy Help by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (589k points)
I just sent you a private email with my email address so I can send you the chart
Laura--I'm sorry, but I CANNOT find your private email. do you mean my personal email outside wikitree???
I sent you a private message which is supposed to send you an email to your private email. direct  email is rlboz.      At sign.      Att.  Dot.   Net

Thanks for the information you provided.  It is still a puzzle about the names, but your chart has helped me to come closer to understanding what is going on.  I have German ancestry on both sides of my family.   WOW  what a time I have in researching these lines.

Judi Stracener Kail

It pastes fine into a Word doc. Keeps the formatting.
I agree, this comment says the same like my experiances with thousands of names of my village.
I'm not conversant with German naming conventions, but would like to point out that the notion of a ''middle name'' is pretty much an English one, run into this problem a lot in French family created by English speakers, they put names like Marie Louise as being Marie for a given name and Louise for a middle name.  Nope, the given name is Marie Louise.  Modern French hyphenates them, but that was not the usage back then.  So-called middle names were very rarely used.
The most common German naming custom that is fairly universal is to use the name nearest the last name as the call name. Johann for males and Anna and Maria for females are the most common prefix names and are often given to all the children in the family. It was done because these names are definite New Testament,Christian names, but many other German names such as Heinrich, Georg, Frederick, or Ursula, Gertraut and Margaretha are not biblical and the prefix made it a Christian name at baptism.  Common names with different endings- Petrus, Petri,  Petram, for example,  are Latin declensions (different ending for different case). Both the Catholic and Lutheran Churches often kept the baptismal, marriage and burial records in Latin. The different endings are all the same name but the ending simply tells you if the name is the subject of the sentence, the object of the verb or the object of a preposition or if it is possessive.  In written and spoken German the name ending does not change, regardless of the case.
Perfect answer, Daniel, squares with both my family's practice and that of my (Catholic) spouse.
Re. French naming customs, it was also usual, especially in the 19th century, to give Marie as a first name but to call the child by the second name.  In this case Marie Louise (for example) is not hyphenated, but if you ask the girl her name she will say Louise. I have come across many examples of this both in family research and in more general reading about that period. It can still happen but it is not so common now.

I agree with everything Daniel says about the Latin names in records.  In England the Anglicans (C.of E) also used Latin in some places in the 16th & 17th centuries. The Latin names are sometimes written incorrectly but as some of the clergy were 'only just' literate they no doubt did their best. There are some places in England where Latin was used for the Catholic registers as late as the 20th century.

7 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

18th Century PA German Naming Customs  and Wikipedia German name

It looks like the German naming convention is pretty much the same as the Dutch and some other European naming conventions. So people could probably use the Dutch naming guidelines/convention and glossary Liz already added to the name field guidelines page 

by Bea Wijma G2G6 Pilot (264k points)
edited by Bea Wijma
Bea,   Exactly what I was looking for!!!   Thanks so much.
My pleasure Robin and thank you  :)

Well, I'm going to beat this poor, dead naming horse a little more. :-/

Can I just clarify for myself, once and for all, I hope, how a German baptismal name should be entered??  Here is how I understand it, using Anna Eva Frey as an example:

  • Proper First Name: Anna Eva
  • Preferred First Name: Eva
  • Middle Name: none, check the box for "no middle name"

Does that sound right????

Yes it does Julie, the Glossary Netherlands  (Dutch Naming convention)I think is similar to, or pretty much the same as the German naming convention, so perhaps it helps, but the way you added it looks perfectly fine ;) Keep up the great work ! 

Thanks, Bea!!  This is clearly not my forte!! ;-)
So I do it also. The system of wikitree is based on the american convention of names with its "middle name". In the former Germany they used the system of two given names. In my village, Glauberg, County of Stolberg-Gedern, now Hessen, D, 80 % get the Name Johann Henrich (later Heinrich), Johann Georg, Johann Daniel, Johann Peter and so on. 10 % had the name Johannes (without a sevond name!). In the time of 1728-1854 children most get the given Name of the "Pate", Soma had two Paten, so their given Name had been mixed.

Girls had as first Name "Anna" (about 80%) between 1728-1854 and as second name Maria, Catharina, Eva, Barbara and so on.

In the marriage and death registry often only the second Name had been documented (so the "Anna" and the "Johann" wasn't used!).

So I use to note both names in the field "first name", the other field I do not fill, the question of the system "No second name" I say yes.

PS: my village has been "evangelisch", men and women, who married to this village often hat names, that ahdn't been given in my village. So, in catholic villages or in other villages, they used perhaps other cenventions.
Many catholic areas used the names of patron saints that fell roughly in the time span of the birth. You'll find in many church books that certain names cluster in certain months year after year.
+3 votes
I have German relatives and have seen the Familienstammbuch (Family tree Book- a legal document issued by the state at time of marriage and filled in at every birth and death.) I cannot see any strict rules of names down three generations, though names do recur in different orders.
by Susan Scarcella G2G6 Mach 6 (68.3k points)
+4 votes

Hello, I found in the birth registry of a protestantic village in Hesse (18th century: Grafschaft Stolberg-Gedern, after 1806 also Hesse-Darmstadt), called Glauberg, between 1728 and 1854 about 2300 persons. 90% of Boys had as first Name: Johannes (no 2nd Name) or Johann XXX.

Johann was followed by a 2nd Name like Georg, Henrich Matthes/Matthias or Michael. Often, when they died, only the 2nd Name ist protocolled. So, this must habe been the called Name.

In the 18th and 19th century the Name was given after the Name of the "Pate" (or of one or both "Paten", if there were two).

Girls had about 80% the Name Anna as first Name, often Catharina, Margarethe, Barbara or Beata.

Albrecht Kauschat

by Albrecht Kauschat G2G1 (1.2k points)
+3 votes

Here's what one website says, and I have found it helped in my family research, but only in the first couple of  generations: 

1st father's father 1st mother's mother
2nd mother's father 2nd father's mother 
3rd father 3rd mother
4th father's father's father 4th father's father's mother
5th mother's father's father 5th mother's father's mother
6th father's mother's father 6th father's  mother's mother
7th mother's mother's father  7th mother's mother's mother
by Janet Binkley G2G1 (1.1k points)
Please clairify the use of the table above:  someone who is 6th gen but has a dau uses his/her father's mother's mother's name?  How wildly baroque and deterministic.
@Roberta: It's not 6th generation, it's the 6th son & 6th daughter in a family.
+3 votes
Perhaps I am missing something, but what I read in your original question: John is used as the English translation of "Johann"

Frederick = Friedrich

John Frederick is therefore Johann Friedrich etc.

I found that in many cases German immigrants used a wide variety of translations of their names - even Last Names - and often it will be necessary to be a bit liberal in the interpretation, at least for purposes of searching.
+4 votes
I'm from Germany and research especially Lower Bavaria and Upper Austria. I've 20 thousand people in my DB and I see no strict rules to name childs.

But very commonly the first child is named after the godfather/godmother.  He/she is frequently godfather/godmother for all children of the same sex, her/his marriage partner for the other sex.

Simple people normally gave only one first name. The girls named "Anna Maria", "Maria Anna" are probably called "Annemarie" and "Marianne". Then there are names like "Johann Baptist", "Johann Nepomuk", "Franz Xaver", "Franz von Paula" or "Johann von Gott". In this cases "Baptist", "Nepomuk", "Xaver" and so on define, which Saint is meant and you couldn't name your child only "Baptist" or "Xaver" even if the child later was called so. You must take a Saint name at the baptism.

And then there are the names with "Maria" and "Johann" on the first place like "Maria Theresia", "Maria Elisabetha", "Johann Georg": in this cases the second name mostly is the "Rufname" (the name, the person is called). There were families (especially the "better" ones) were all daughters were named "Maria ..." or all sons "Johann ..."
by Wolfgang Baumgartner G2G1 (1.6k points)
+1 vote
Keep in mind that the practice of baptising children with a double name like "Johann Justus" or 'Anna Margaretha' Schmidt was't Germanic but just German -- it wasn't done in the German speaking parts of Switzerland. Also, the first name was always that of a saint, and the second part was the personal name of the child.
by Janet Binkley G2G1 (1.1k points)

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