Do Belgians with multiple given names also have "no middle name", as is done in the Dutch Roots project?

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The Dutch Roots project page linked below states that middle names as a concept don't exist in The Netherlands, and that when a person has multiple given names they should all be entered in the first name field. Would this also be true for Belgium?

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Project:Dutch_Roots/Categories_Templates_Project_Profile#Dutch_Names_and_Name_fields
in Policy and Style by Jan-willem De Bleser G2G1 (1.4k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
The American concept of a middle name doesn't even really exist in America -- did you know that according to the Social Security Administration, middle names are not technically part of your official name? -- so I would say yes, it's appropriate to put them all in the given name (inappropriately labeled as "first name") field, check the "no middle name" box, and tell it to save anyway when it complains.

One good test for whether the concept exists in a given culture: when WikiTree abbreviates the middle name to an initial, is the result something that would ever be seen in a document from that culture? The answer is usually "no, never", meaning the workaround for WT's bad name structure should be applied.
Yes J.Palotay, I agree 100%. I objected to the silly monoculture middle name processing in WT multiple times, like the warning you get when creating a profile with multiple given names and the automatic split in "first name" and "middle name" of multiple given names in a gedcom upload.

2 Answers

+7 votes
 
Best answer

I guess it would, since neither the Dutch Roots nor French Roots projects recommend using the Middle Name field (though I do use it sometimes for given names that come after the call name on the birth record, especially for more recent births - say 20th century).

I'm not sure what German Roots recommends, but I'm pretty sure the concept of middle name does not exist there either.

I did not use the middle name field for my 18th-early 19th century Belgian ancestors with several given names since I do not even know what the call name was - and when I know, it turns out it was the second name that was used (see Idesbaldus Dionisius Verstraete). On the other hand, I used it for my great-grandfather Gaston Joseph Roothooft since I know he went by Gaston and though his second name is not really a "middle name" the middle name field could be used in that case.

 

by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (375k points)
selected by Joop van Belzen
+1 vote
Although it is an old discussion I will answer what I have been doing so it can be found by others in the future. I believe that in Belgium no single system works and there needs to be flexibility.

1. Double names which are kept together are common, such as Jean-Marie, or Jan Baptiste. I think these need to be put together in the first name box, whether they used a hyphen or not.

2. Especially among women in the 18th and 19th centuries the first name was often simply Anna, Joanna or Maria, and therefore effectively useless, so their second name was used most often and it seems people even forgot which first name an old lady had when they passed away. A similar thing sometimes happened with some men whose first name was Joannes. I think in such cases we must of course separate first and middle name, using the appropriate boxes, and also insert the middle name into the preferred first name box.

3. There are many straightforward cases of people who were referred to by the first name often, even though they had a middle name. So in these cases we can work like with English middle names.

4. The problem is that it is not always easy to work out how a name was used, and in some cases I am sure the habit changed during a lifetime. This is why each case deserves a careful consideration of all records.

(I am not even touching upon the question of which language to use, where names are translatable. Generally I use Latin as the official name, and only name a preferred language if it is clear from other records. In my case this is because many are from areas where both languages were spoken, such as Tienen.)
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Mach 9 (97.6k points)
There is also the case of at least part of Hainaut (close to the French frontier near Bavay, the custom being the same on the French side) where the name "Joseph" was almost systematically added to both boys and girls' names. It is safe to assume that Joseph in that case was very rarely used as a call name (similar to Marie in coastal villages and towns in Brittany, where nearly all the boys were expected to become fishermen and placed under Mary's protection).

Please look at Flemish naming conventions -draft at [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Flemish_Naming_Conventions]

Double first names :
There are several cases that would apply to double first names and it's very difficult to establish what name should be used and how it was used  without first hand knowledge.
Therefore apply always the principle "Names are spelled as they are written on the brith certificate" first

Case 1 Multiple names

Many Belgians (iḿ speaking here about Flemish born people) have multiple first names at birth, and use another name in daily life . The multiple birth names often are names given based on the names of the godfather and godmother. 
i.e. "Carl Elisabeth Constant "  The latter two would go into Middle name field and the first into Proper First name field

However people might be born with 2 names only i.e. "Constantinus Ferdinandus" this could be interpreted as a composed first name  ( see case2 ) or a multiple name with only one godparent, often this person  would have an abbriviated call name like "Constant" "Stan" as his preferred name ( that he was called by in real everyday life)  

case 2 Composed first names
Frequently used names like Marie, would be registered in  composed form either with or without a "-"hyphen : like "Marie-Jeanne" or "Marie Jeanne".  So if Marie(-)Jeanne was followed by two more first names (from her godparents) then "Marie-Jeanne" or "Marie Jeanne" would go into the Proper First Name field (ignore the warning message)
This would occur if the civil registry registrar noticed that too many women named "Marie" had been born and alive with the same family name and in order to prevent mixups.  

Case 3 Preferred-names
if someone was born with a name like Adrianus Ernestus, he might have been called "Nest" or "Joanna Victorina" called "Victorine" in everyday life.  Nest, and Victorine would be their preferred name.

Thanks for working on this. A few comments.

1. You do not start from the available wikitree field names and it is hard to translate this into straightforward rules about those fields. It comes across, in other words, a bit like a general interest essay. I think we need to point out exactly what to do.

2. I think the basic idea of using the birth name (nearly always Latin until recently) is OK. But again, you do not write this in terms of Wikitree field names. So to translate, I think you are talking about the "at birth" fields?

3. Concerning preferred names you mention first hand knowledge. That is good for 20th century people but I think more things can help. I think for example that things like "volkstellingen" and general other documents are good guides to which name a person used in every day life, whether it be a double name like Jan-Baptiste, the middle name, like when Joannes Franciscus is a Frans, or the other case where he becomes a Jan. (I have seen cases where it seems that a person changed during their lifetime. In general therefore I agree that caution should be used.)

Concerning preferred other  names ( nick names, call names) the problem might be that the nickname might not even be related to the birth names, but might be derived from a physical caracteristic  like "den bult" (the hump), "neus" ( the nose),  "kopere/bronze" (ginger),  a profession "meester" (teacher) or even his character "abjaar" (bad character, unreliable, bully) spiced up with double entendre (hidden meaning) form local dialects.
Although I haven't used belgian census documents yet, I don't expect then to give indications of aliasses or common names , but at best i expect they might provide more popular versions of the preferred first name, and omissions of the godparents name , or the full names

Derek, at least in the modern period I have not come across such names. They probably did exist, but it does not give us any issues. The main question about preferred names in practice is going to be about which derivative of their "official" Latin names was used in practice.

When "aliases" are mentioned in Belgian documents I've seen these are secondary "nicknames". (Again, we need to write our advice to editors in terms of the boxes they need to fill in.)
Allow me to clarify what i intended to say and correct any refernces to entries on the profile form .
a) Aliases / Nick names : the habit of using nicknames has died only within my lifetime. In the 70 it was abandoned by the young post 69 teenage generation , however you would rarely find official documents that mentioned those nicknames. in the 19th century (before WWI) those nicknames would turn up in patronimics, like "Jan van den bult" his father was nicknamed "den bult" (the hump or hunchback) in real life and in conversations people would refer to other people by their full name but by  a designation e.g. mij grand mother would be referred to as "Victorine van Minneke Paepen" (her mother) but cousins on her fathers side would refer to her as "Victorine van onze Mus" (her father was called Guillermus).
My adoptive grand father was called "den boer" (the farmer) not because he exploited a farm, he lived in the town centre miles form the nearest farm land, but because the cafe/tavern he ran as a publican was called "den Boer van Tienen" (located at the beginning of the medieval main road Antwerp-Mechelen-Leuven -Tienen

b) names in fields on the profile form, my advise is the following:

1- Multiple first names
if you have official documents such as a person's birth or death  certificate, marriage act  or  births certificates of children
*  the first name of multiple given names on a personś birth certificate is the proper first name  ( in the case of my grandmother that is Joanna, instead of Victorine she used as her first name, Victorine should go in preferred name)
* in case there are 3 names: most commonly the 2nd and third names are those referring to the godparents  of the child and they should IMHO go into middle names , because they are officially and semi-officially used in that way ( in the sense that they can be omitted and/or sometimes have to be mentioned as  abbreviated initials)

2 in the case of compounded names like marie-jose  or jean-pierre ( iirespective of  the use of the hyphen in the middle)  where the first part is a very common first name then the double name with or without hyphen should be used in the First name field,
Sometimes the deduction of the compounded name is made easy because the child has been given 4 names  : a compounded first name and the 2 middle names of his godparents

3 based on other documents such as marraige acte, birth declarations of children and census documents the preferred names can determined e.g. my great grand father was called Adrianus Ernestus, and went by the name of Nest ( his preferred name) on another formal document he was mentioned as "Ernest" which confirms his preferred name

4 Nick names  could go into the "Other names" field

Finally I would like to clairfy my remark about nicknames and census documents

Although I haven't used belgian census documents yet, I don't expect then to give indications of aliasses, common or nick names, but at best i expect these documents might provide indications as to what name the person used as his first or given name ( his preferred name)  and its more popular translation,
e.g. a man called "Constantinus" might use officially "Constant" or "Stan" as his preferred first name,; or my grandmother Joanna Victorine using her Victorine as her preferred name instead of Joanna, while all official correspondane would be adressed to her as Joanna.

Hope this clarifies what is wanted to say before
Please note I edited my previous posts in order to eliminate the obvious errors in field names or confusing mixups of field names
I also amendend the draft flemish naming convention document
Thanks  Andrew Lancaster to point this out to me
Hi again Derek

It is definitely worth working on this draft. If possible though, we need to keep it short, and as mentioned I think we should structure our advice based on the field names. More comments:

Nicknames. Main point I wanted to make is that this will mainly only apply to recently living people. Older documents, we seem to agree, simply won't mention them. There might be exceptions but they'll be hard to write rules for.

"Compounded" first names. I think we agree that hyphens are not going to help us identify when personal names are compounded? Hyphens were not really used much in records I have seen, at least not in Flemish. It means there will be cases where it is not easy to judge if a name was intended to be used this way. Joannes Baptista is a classic case of a name where the intention was to use the two names together, but I also see cases where such people were simply called Jan or Joannes in some records. I think in such cases Jan or Joannes could be put in the preferred name (if it was used in lots of official records), or nickname?

In the case of a person always called Joannes Baptista or Jean-Baptiste, would you really put Baptiste in as a middle name? It is a case where the "name" was never used separately?
Comment removed by author due to formatting problems
see corrected comment below
Andrew,  I agree with your points

I'd Like to append to your nicknames remark that nicknames might lead to patronymic naming  especially in rural areas.

"I believe that in Belgium no single system works and there needs to be flexibility. "

I agree

"1. Double names which are kept together are common, such as Jean-Marie, or Jan Baptiste. I think these need to be put together in the first name box, whether they used a hyphen or not."

Frequently used names such as anna, marie, joanna, jean, pieter, willem etc often are used in compounded names and should be kept together in the Proper First name field

"2. Especially among women in the 18th and 19th centuries the first name was often simply Anna, Joanna or Maria, and therefore effectively useless, so their second name was used most often and it seems people even forgot which first name an old lady had when they passed away. A similar thing sometimes happened with some men whose first name was Joannes. I think in such cases we must of course separate first and middle name, using the appropriate boxes, and also insert the middle name into the preferred first name box."

I agree  which is why I mentioned the case where a child named marie jeanne had 2 more birthnames from her godparents, in that case its obvious that the Proper first name  is Marie Jeanne and the godparents names go to middle name

"3. There are many straightforward cases of people who were referred to by the first name often, even though they had a middle name. So in these cases we can work like with English middle names."

Indeed

4. The problem is that it is not always easy to work out how a name was used, and in some cases I am sure the habit changed during a lifetime. This is why each case deserves a careful consideration of all records.

Indeed

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