Thursday, 17 February 2011

What's in a name?

I had an uncle Colin, my mother's brother and as a child I was tickled to find that she had an uncle Colin too. However family history research reveals (so far) 11 Colins and a Colina in the same line in New Zealand, Canada and Denmark. The first was Colin Sievwright born 1792 a surgeon who served in the Peninsular wars. I thought at first he was my great great grandfather, the poet, but turns out he was his uncle. I think Colin was an unusual name at that time. Colin the poet didn't name any of his sons Colin but his children did. They are all Colin Sievwrights with the exception of 2 Colin Shearers and 2 Colin Clarks. Colina Charlotte seems to have preferred her Charlotte middle name which made her difficult to track down but now think she married George Dixon as Charlotte C Sievwright.

I wondered where my uncle George (father's brother) got his middle name Herbert. It was after a younger brother of his father who died in infancy. And uncle Ted's names were Edward Colbourne. Turns out Edward Colbourne was the husband of his granny's sister Delilah Ball who lived in Dudley. One of her children was James Clifford Colbourne b 1896 which are also the first names of my father, though I think it more likely he is named after his uncle Clifford b 1894.

I think this is one of the most interesting things in doing family history - seeing names occuring in different generations. I've mentioned traditional Scottish naming patterns before. It helps confirm you have the right family in a census. It is particularly useful when there are unusual first names, however my Muirkirk Murdochs are all unhelpfully called Andrew, Alexander, George, John, James, Robert and William.

The English forbears have many biblical names Moses, Abraham, Hezekiah, Zachariah, Delilah, Samson, Emanual, Mark and Samuel.

But my all-time favourite is a distant ancestor of my Cumnock born husband - Marmaduke! Marmaduke McCrae b 1776 in Cumnock. I'm so glad he wasn't named after him.

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