Irish Naming Patterns

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I thought I’d use my own great great grandparents family to demonstrate how the Irish typically named their children after their own parents and family members.  George Smyth Wood married Amelia Watkins Wood (yes, she was also a Wood) in County Cork in 1826.  They are my 3x great grandparents.  George was from Bandon, Co. Cork and Amelia from Caheragh, between Drimoleague and Skibbereen, Co. Cork, around 30 miles further west.  These were my elusive ancestors that I found very difficult to piece together. It was a case of not being able to see the ‘Wood’ for the trees.

In hindsight, looking at the family tree which was constructed using primary sources  of birth, marriage & death records as well as wills and leases etc., the naming pattern they used adds credence to its accuracy.  It also shows that I don’t appear to be missing any of the older children.  Though there’s always a possibility of younger children as the pattern is not as defined further down the line.

George and Amelia had seven children, 3 boys and 4 girls and it turns out they used a traditional naming pattern for their children as follows:

1st Son, George Wood,                                                named after his paternal father

2nd Son, Thomas Travers Wood,                            named after his maternal father

3rd son, Watkins Smith Wood,                        Usually the 3rd son would be named after the father himself, but in this case, the name George had already been used.  A 4th son would have been called after his paternal uncle.  In this case there was no paternal uncle.  Watkins and Smith are the middle names of 2 of his maternal uncles.

1st daughter, Anne Wood,                                          named after her maternal mother.

2nd daughter, Eliza Watkinsenia Wood,               named after her paternal mother.

3rd daughter, Catherine Amelia Wood,                Usually named after the mother.  In this case she is given her mother’s name as her middle name and her first name was from her eldest maternal aunt.

4th daughter, Martha Margaret Wood,                 Usually named after a maternal aunt.  There being no more maternal aunts she is named after her only paternal aunt.

The naming pattern is a useful technique to help fill in the blanks in your family tree.  However, do bear in mind that it’s not always followed or followed exactly.  And there are many trip hazards such as that of a child dying young and the next sibling to be born being named after them.

Another interesting naming pattern that happens in my Wood family over a number of generations is the use of ancestors surnames as middle names.  This practice helps to rule many search results in or out of your tree.

Jeffers of Bandon

In our digital age many of us take photographs almost daily of everything including our pets, families, food, holidays etc.  In fact we have so many photos that we fail to appreciate the wonder and value of this technology. Photography was first invented in 1826, the first picture of a human in 1838, the first colour photo in the 1860s and the first digital photograph in 1975. It was probably around the 1870s that it became possible for the ordinary person to access the services of a photographer. However personal photos from the 1800s and early 1900s are scarce.  Many families have albums full of old photos but unfortunately many of them are unidentifiable as nobody took the time to write down who was in the picture.

I was recently shown this wonderful photograph of my husband’s Jeffers family taken around 1909 in Bandon, Co. Cork.  His grandfather, Jonothan Edward Jeffers, known to everyone as Eddie, is the little cross-legged boy seated at the front.  Later in life Eddie wrote names on the back of the photo but the family couldn’t confirm exactly who everyone was. However, by putting his records with the family tree that I’d created alongside we were able to piece the information together and identify everyone in the photo. The photo contains three generations of Jeffers spanning 159 years. Eddie’s grandparents, John Edward & Bessie Jeffers are centre stage and are surrounded by their surviving children, children-in-law and grandchildren.

John Edward Jeffers was one of at least four children born to Edward Jeffers, a farmer and shoemaker, and his wife Anne Wolfe of Lislee near Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork on  29 June 1841.  John moved to the nearby market town of Bandon where he worked in and became manager of Miss Moriarty’s Grocery and Bakery on South Main Street.  In 1868 he married Elizabeth (Bessie) Bright in St. Peter’s Church, Bandon.  Bessie’s father, Jonathan Bright, was a shoemaker from Bridge Street, Bandon.  When Miss Moriarty died in 1883 she left the Grocery to 42 year old John in her will.  John renamed the shop “Jeffers” and continued to work in the Bakery/Grocery Trade.


Jeffers bakery and grocery, 86 South Main Street, Bandon, Co. Cork.  Early 1900s.

John and Bessie Jeffers lived on Castle Road, not far from his shop and bakery.  Previous generations of Jeffers in Courtmacsherry had belonged to the local Church of Ireland, but John and Bessie were very active members of Bandon Brethren Church. They had a total of eight children though a number of them died young as you will see from their details below.

1. Edward Jeffers (1869-1876) was their eldest child.  When he died aged just 6, he had three older brothers.

1869 Edward Jeffers birth

Birth record of Edward Jeffers, eldest son of John & Bessie Jeffers, 1869, Bandon.


2. Jonathan Jeffers (1870-1891) moved to live and work in Barry, South Wales.  He married Elizabeth Guymer and worked as a Custom House Office. He was only 27 when he died of Tuberculosis.  He had at least 1 son, William Jeffers.

1898 Jonathan Jeffers Death Wales

Death record of Jonathan Jeffers, Barry, Cardiff, Wales, 1898.


3. Unknown Jeffers (1872 -?) There’s a civil birth cert recording an unnamed boy born in 1872.  No sign of any further information on this person other than he had died by the time of the  1911 census.

1872 unknown jeffers birth prob Richard

Birth Record of an unknown child of John and Bessie Jeffers, 1872.


4. Richard Wolfe Jeffers (1875-1961) was known to his family as Dick. Initially a draper’s assistant in Bandon, in 1899 aged 24 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery Corps (RGA) of the British Army reaching the rank of Sergeant Major by the time he was discharged in 1911. In 1906 he married Mary Anne Cudmore from Leith, near Edinburgh, Scotland and they had five children. Evelyn and Elizabeth, his first two daughters, were born in Leith. Dorothy, his third daughter, was born in Aden (now Yemen) during his army service. Following Dick’s discharge from the army they returned to Bandon where he worked as a bakery manager and where Richard (b.1912) and Gwendoline (b.1914), his youngest two children were born. Some time after 1914 Dick and Mary moved to live near her family in Edinburgh. Mary died there in 1947 aged 56 and Dick lived on to the ripe old age of 88. According to Mary’s death record Dick was a law clerk when he moved to Scotland.

1875 unknown Jeffers birth to John Edward & Bessie

Birth record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1875, Bandon.  Note, his birth was registered without a christian name.

1961 Richard Wolfe Jeffers Death

Death record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1961, Edinburgh, Scotland.


5. Jasper Travers Jeffers (1878-1959) followed his father into the grocery and bakery business, eventually taking it over on his father’s retirement.  He married Frances (Fanny) Young from Aughadown, near Skibbereen, in Scariff Methodist Church near Bandon. Frances’ father William Young had been a colporteur with the Methodist Church in West Cork, selling Bibles and Christian literature.  Jasper and Fanny had three children Jonothon Edward (Eddie) Jeffers (1906-87), Ruth Jeffers (Harper) (1909-81) and Travers Vickery Jeffers (1911-2008). Eddie and Travers both worked in the family shop with their father, while Ruth married George Harpur and moved to live in England. During Eddie and Travers lifetime, Ireland’s grocery trade went through a dramatic transformation. The old-style shop where you were served by an assistant from behind a counter were forced out of business in the 1970s by large supermarkets which initially opened in the cities and larger towns. Eddie and Travers Jeffers caused a bit of a stir when they converted their grocery store into Bandon’s first self-serve supermarket.

Both Eddie and Travers Jeffers raised their families in Bandon and their extended families grew up closely together.  Their grandchildren also grew up together and were more like cousins/friends of each other rather than the official title of second cousins.  Like their father and grandfather before them, they belonged to the Brethren Church and would regularly have preached there and led services.

Jasper and Fanny Jeffers are buried in the graveyard at St. Peters, Church of Ireland in Bandon.  Eddie, Travers and their families are buried in the newer Church of Ireland graveyard in Kilbeg just a few miles east of Bandon.

Jeffers supermarket and bakery is long gone.  In the 1980s and 1990s Jasper’s grandsons, Peter and Mervyn, had an electrical shop and a sports shop.  They too have ceased to trade and the current generation now operate Music Shops, selling pianos and church organs. And so the name Jeffers lives on in Bandon today.

1950 Jasper Travers Jeffers Death

Death record of Jasper Travers Jeffers, 1950, Bandon.


6. James Percy Jeffers (1880-1926) grew up in Bandon and ran a successful auctioneering business in the town. Numerous newspaper advertisements announced the sales of farms, houses, livestock etc. by Percy Jeffers, Auctioneer. In 1907 he married Kathleen Smith in Bandon Methodist Church. He and Kate had two daughters, Ida and Nora. When he was only 45 years old he died quite suddenly from acute nephritis (kidney).

1926 James Percy Jeffers Death

Death Record of James Percy Jeffers, 1926, Bandon.


7. Anna Charlotte Jeffers (1884-1940) never married and lived with her parents in Bandon. Her father died in 1919 and she continued to live with her mother Bessie who outlived her by four years. Anna died in Lindville Hospital, Cork of Chronic Endocarditis aged just 55.

1940 Charlotte Ann Jeffers death

Death Record of Charlotte Anne Jeffers, 1940, Cork.


8. Elizabeth Jeffers (1887-?)  Only a birth record for her.  No further information other than she was no longer living by the 1911 census and unlikely that she was alive by the 1901 census.

John & Bessie Jeffers (in centre of pic) had a total of eight children, though by the time of the 1911 census only four were still alive. These are the four that we can see in the back row of this amazing photograph which was taken around 1909.


Jeffers family photo taken c. 1909, Bandon, Co. Cork.  Back Row: Richard Wolfe Jeffers, Frances (Young) Jeffers, Jasper Travers Jeffers, Anna Charlotte Jeffers, James Percy Jeffers.  Seated: Mary (Cudmore) Jeffers with baby Elizabeth, John Edward Jeffers, Bessie (Bright) Jeffers, Kathleen (Smith) Jeffers with baby Ida.  Front row: Jonathan Edward Jeffers (son of Jasper) and Evelyn Jeffers (daughter of Richard).

And here’s just one more photo that turned up of the same family though a few years earlier. It must have been taken after Jonothan moved to live in Wales. Perhaps it was taken after his death. Young Anna, who was born in 1884 looks like she couldn’t be any more than around 10/12, so that would make the date c. 1896/7.

John Edward & Bessie Jeffers

John Edward & Bessie Jeffers with four of their children c. 1897

While preparing the Jeffers family tree, discovering names, dates, professions etc was all very interesting, but actually seeing the people I had been researching has made them seem so much more real.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 22.02.403 Generation Descendant Chart of John Edward Jeffers

How times have changed! Teacher’s Post advertised in Corron School, Kilmacabea, Co. Cork in 1868.

Recently I’ve been searching through the archives researching a family of teachers who lived in the West Cork area in the 1800s.  I came across this lovely little newspaper advertisement recruiting a new teacher for the small rural parish school almost 150 years ago.

Bear in mind that this was published not too long after the famine and people were probably very glad to have work and accommodation.  Whatever about not measuring up to the requirements of todays legislation and employment laws I’m not sure how many of today’s prospective teachers would have a wife or sister willing to come and work for one seventh of the salary of their husband/brother.

Out of the Ashes! The Young Family of Letterscanlan in the charred remains of the 1841 Census

William Young



When I started researching my husband’s family tree, I was told about William Young, his Great, Great, Grandfather, who was a colporter with the Methodist Church in West Cork.  I discovered that a colporter was someone who distributed books and religious tracts.   William was a member of the Methodist Church who had a deep and sincere Christian faith.  While he was distributing Bibles and tracts to the people of West Cork he also took the opportunity to share his faith on a one to one level as well as to preach the Christian Message.

Apparently the Young family came from somewhere near Aughadown (pronounced Affadown) between Ballydehob and Skibbereen in County Cork.

The 1901 census showed William, aged 59, living with his wife Hester and 6 children in Templemartin near Bandon.  He was a Methodist and was born in County Cork.  This led me to his marriage in Bantry Methodist Church to Hester Vickery of Bantry in 1873.  His marriage certificate showed his residence at the time as Letterscanlan (a small townland in Aughadown) and stated that his father James Young was a farmer.


As it appeared that William was born around 1842, there was no point looking for a Civil Birth Record as the state didn’t start to record births until 1864.  Likewise, the records I found in the Methodist and Church of Ireland records didn’t go back far enough.  Having run out of birth, marriage and death records I checked the land records in Griffiths Valuation which showed that in 1853 a James Young was renting just over 36 acres in Letterscanlan from Henry Becher, the local landlord.

Going back a step further I checked the Tithe Applotment Books (TAB) which showed both a William Young (76 acres) and a Richard Young (17 acres) listed in Aughadown in 1829.  Unfortunatley the information in the TAB was gathered for the purpose of taxing land rather than recording family history so there’s no indication how William and Richard Young may have been related to each other.

At this point I thought I had hit a brick wall with my Young family as I was now in a pre Church and Civil records era.  Then I discovered the 1841 Census records.  Most of the records for County Cork from the 1841 census were destroyed in the fire in the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922.  A quick search showed records for just 97 people in County Cork in the 1841 census.  Not expecting to find any relevant information I scanned through the names and couldn’t believe my eyes when I found 2 Young’s from Letterscanlan.  Bingo.  I clicked on the link to bring up the Young’s page and this is what appeared…


… the charred remains of a census record.  Not even one straight edge of a page remained.  But I wasn’t looking for straight edges – I wanted information and this charred,fire damaged remnant provided it.  The head of the family in 1841 was James Young a farmer.


The next section is not so easy to read as the fire destroyed a some vital information, leaving us with just a few tantalising clues.  The section listing those present on the night of the census is missing.  It appears that no one was absent from the house on census night. The last section was  a “Return of Members of this Family, Servants or Visitors, who have died while residing with this Family  since the 6th June 1831”.

The information that I can make out from this section is that James Young’s mother, Young, died aged 65 in 1832 (?).  His father, …liam Young, died aged 80 in 1840.  His uncle, whom I cannot make out his name, died of pleurisy (?) aged 67 in 183?.


So thanks to this remarkable piece of paper that was filled out in a small farmstead in West Cork in 1841, stored in the Public Records Office in Dublin and just about survived the 1922 fire in the Four Courts I have been able to trace our Young family of Aughadown, Co. Cork back to a William Young who was born c.1760.

The Young line which married into our Jeffers family in 1904 is as follows:

William Young 1760-1840

James Young c.1799 – ?

William Young 1841-1911 married Hester Vickery 1846-1936


Frances (Fanny) Young 1876-1952

married Jasper Travers Jeffers 1878-1950.  These are my Great, Grandparents-in-law.