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.