How to use Jr., Sr., II, etc.

+6 votes

I've been researching the conventions for Sr., Jr., II, etc., and came across this reference website: Learn How to Use Generational Suffixes and wanted to get some input from the community as to what the wikitree style and/or policy should be. A cursory search on the site did not immediately yield results unless I overlooked something.

It seems to me that this could get rather confusing the more generations you account for as the rule can apply to nephews and cousins as well as direct generational descent.  

From similar questions posted I see the most common or rather highly voted answer is to stick with what the person would have used in their lifetimes regardless of whether the conventions are followed (also Sr. and Jr. are technically not applicable after the individual passes away as they apply to living persons). Very interesting read.

in Policy and Style by Stormy Faw G2G4 (5.0k points)
edited by Stormy Faw
I descend from five successive generations of John Atwater. In some posted genealogies I have seen them referred to as John Atwater I, John Atwater Ii, etc, but in contemporary records I only see them as John Atwater.

My opinion: don’t invent names that people did not use.

All the genealogy programs I’ve used are sufficiently sophisticated to keep them separated without the I or II or III. So there is no need to change their names.

It is interesting how Jr/Sr were (are) used during a person's lifetime, but generally don't use a suffix in the suffix name field unless it's on the birth certificate. 

WikiTree guideline (from

Preferably, this should only be used for the Suffix at Birth.

If Wikitree decides to follow these rules then pretty much all Jr/Sr suffixes would be invalid as Rule seven states once dead "Sr" and "Jr' suffixes cannot be used. Of course if the Jr suffix was on the Birth record then it would be a valid use. 

IMO, generational suffixes are rarely useful or advisable. I've seen profiles where people would label someone as "Joe Schmoe I" when nobody had any idea who Joe's father was. He could have been Joe Schmoe VIII for all anybody knew.

3 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

Liz, this is among the worst written help pages on wikitree.  The suffix field cannot be thought of as an "at birth field" as it applies to almost no standard suffixes used.  It is just silly.  No one was a Sr. at birth, or a knt. at birth, or a MD/PhD/DD at birth, or an esq. at birth, etc.

George, using Sr. Jr. III, IV etc. as a generational counting system is a standard device which has been used for over 800 years (certainly since Henry II). It is almost impossible to discuss the Gascoigne family with 15 consecutive Williams without them. I agree it is usually not necessary, and I generally don't add these suffixes as they can just be clutter.   However, they can be very useful for distinguishing individuals, and wikitree is the only place anyone argues they are wrong.

Here is my answer.  And how the suffix field help page needs to be re-written.

by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
selected by Debra Akin
Joe that was good and informative reading. I have found  adding a prefix or a suffix does not really benefit any searches. IMHO I believe that all prefixes and suffixes should be in the bio except as you said unless it pertains to documents. Thanks for all that information.
I agree; they ca be helpful in organizing generations but they belong in the notes/ biography fields and not in the names fields.
Your "Draft Proposal for the Suffix Help Page" is now bookmarked on my computer. I'm sure I will refer to it often. Excellent work! Thank you so much for sharing that information.
George and Traci, I believe that Joe did excellent work and it showed a lot of thought and was well written. It shows no bias but shows accurate facts and his opinion was concise and was directed only at the point in question. I hope that those who manage the rules and the proper procedures would read Joe's work. It has been done thoroughly and with excellence. He should be commended on his work and thoughts in this subject.
+4 votes
Very useful information. Thank you for posting this.
by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 8 (83.2k points)
+3 votes
From a pure genealogical procedural prespective, Jr., Sr., !st. an 2nd.  should not be used at all. They do not match recorded primary source information in 99.999% of examples and cause mass confusion for search engines
by George Churchill G2G6 Mach 8 (86.4k points)
I was really surprised yesterday to see a New Zealand official marriage record that listed the groom as Surname Junior. I’ve never seen it before on a NZ record and using Junior is relatively rare here even informally.

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