Middle name for One Name Study

+8 votes
Would you include a middle name to a One Name Category if it was someone in direct female line of the name?  It seems to me that's a clue to find someone in the family with that name.
in Policy and Style by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
as long as you are doing it with English lines, would work.  If you lead into French lines, the very term ''middle name'' doesn't even translate, they are all given names.

3 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer

You could create a subcategory.  For example:
John Haywood has on his profile [[Category:Haywood Name Study]] AND [[Category:Devon, Haywood Name Study]]

Say you had a middle name of McCrackern appearing.  For example:
John McCrackern Colville
John could have on his profile [[Category:Colville Name Study]] AND [[Category:McCrackern, Colville Name Study]].  That would group all the people who also had McCrackern in their name.  You could, if you wanted to.  But I don't know if McCrackern would appear in more than a couple of generations, so perhaps this next paragraph would be an idea...

Or perhaps you could create a freespace page for all the McCrackern Colvilles, and just put a link to that page on each profile who had the name, say Space:McCrackern Colvilles.

by Ros Haywood G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
selected by Pip Sheppard

yes to Ros. I agree that middle (even other given) names can be an important genealogical clue. In one of my lines, for example, it helped trace the maiden name of a spouse, b. 1829, because her father's middle name was somewhat unusual and, once we found him and identified that name, puzzle pieces fell together because the name had been repeated multiple times as given and middle names over the course of generations all the way to the present.

And then there's the great complication to certain Scandinavian and British Isles one-name studies: patronymics or matronymics.

However, attempting to use anything but a surname and its known variants in a one-name study as a top-level classification rather flies against the very definition of a "one-name study." The good news, though, is that you can start with the dominant (or etymologically identified) surname in the current era, and then have all sorts of flexibility in how you organize and work with the people, past and present, who either bear or are most closely associated with that name.

Ros's example of subcategorization would work, but like her I'm not certain that simply having names and profile links showing up on multiple Category pages would really help with the intent. Listings by themselves don't really describe the relationships and offer any insight into how they formed or were determined.

The Freespace page idea, though, could give you all the latitude you need, and if there are only two or three middle names that are important to name study, you might opt to use only one Space page to describe all of them and link to the appropriate profiles. That way the associations can be made clear, diagrams could be used, photos can be included, and comments could be added under specific profile links, all to help explain the relationships and the relevance.

It would take a bit more work to maintain, but probably not exorbitantly so. When you search for a specific surname, the listings show middle names and maiden names if they're included on the profile. There's also a search box on the page that's labeled "First Name." It will actually look for first or middle names, and the results are constrained to the same surname you originally searched for. As an example, if you go to the Armstrong surname listing, you'll see that 11,893 profiles are found. But if you have a particular interest in any Armstrongs whose names also include Wainwright, you can enter "Wainwright" in that "First Name" search box, and voila!, you find three Armstrongs who have the middle name Wainwright.

If they match up to your one-name research, you can add and comment on them on the Freespace page and then, as Ros noted, add a link to their individual profiles so that folks know some nifty additional information is awaiting them elsewhere.  smiley

+6 votes
I would not put it in the category. Seems to me that it would be limiting the scope of your one name study if you only want those who have the same middle name.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (633k points)
It was a custom in Scottish families and in southern families to give family names as middle names.  So it would be good clue.  I guess to me the idea of a name study is not just to collect everyone with that last name but to follow the line and it gets lost with the women.  The middle names keep it from getting lost.
Dead on for the Southern families, Joelle. The Neal surname is rampant as a middle name amongst my cousins. My daughter also carries it as a middle name.
I agree. We have a bunch of the mom's family names that are given to the kids as middle or first names, especially to the sons, in my family tree. It's a GREAT hint, especially when you have a common last name, and have to go back to Scotland or Ireland and figure out whether they are relatives or not. It helps narrow down the search.
+6 votes
I wouldn't include a middle name in a one name study. In my line, a surname as middle name is more likely to be from a friend than anyone related. I've also seen middle names after a famous person so no relation at all.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (447k points)
That’s true, too. Grandson kept showing up in some mountain families I’m kin to, including once in my direct line. I couldn’t figure it out until by chance I saw that evangelist (of the same era) Charles Finney’s middle name was Grandison. I’ve never seen it used elsewhere outside of these families, but I’m sure there are other examples.
Its important to remember that there are other reasons for a middle or given name, but I don't think that's a reason to exclude it for a name study, since your studying the name and not a genealogical line.  For a fairly uncommon name, I think documenting the use either way is interesting, and useful.  I plan on doing it for the Wheelock name study, even though some families used the name to honor the founder of Dartmouth, and not a blood relative.  Keeping track of when and where that happened, I think is till part of the history of the name.

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