Scots-Irish Naming Conventions – Davis Naming Explained

Early Roane County, TN Children Where Many Scots-Irish Settled (The Early Frontier)

This content was provided to me from kin I’ve met in our genealogical journey. It is important to understand how Scots Irish named their children as it helps a great deal when studying genealogical lineages.

The Scots have for many centuries followed a traditional pattern in assigning given names to their successive children—or rather, a traditional pattern, with variant. The American “Scotch-Irish” (whom the British call “Ulster Scots”) brought this pattern to America, and no doubt Scots carried it to other places as well, but its origins and history in the mother country, Scotland, appear to be lost in the mists of time. Although onomastic child-naming studies have been published for the American colonial populations of New England and the Chesapeake Bay tidewater of Maryland and Virginia,[2] I know of no systematic studies of the naming practices of the important Scotch-Irish population who were the principal ramrods of the 18th and early 19th century American frontiers. This is probably due to the fact that since there are few extant vital records for this population, comparatively little solid work has been done on the reconstruction of Scotch-Irish families who arrived on the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers from 1720-1800, and the good work is both widely scattered and difficult for the non-expert to separate from the chaff. (Ref. John Barrett Robb, July 2017)

Traditional Scottish and Irish people often name their children using the following patterns:

1st son named after father’s father

2nd son named after mother’s father

3rd son named after the father

4th son named after the father’s eldest brother

5th son named after 2nd oldest brother or mother’s eldest brother

1st daughter named after mother’s mother

2nd daughter named after fathers mother

3rd daughter named after mother

4th daughter named after mother’s eldest sister

5th daughter named after 2nd oldest sister or father’s eldest sister

Difference between Scottish and Irish was that when the Irish father remarries after his first wife dies, the first daughter born to the second wife is named after the deceased wife, including her whole name. Also, if a child is born and dies young, then the name is reused for the next child of the same sex, to keep the name of the relatives alive. Sometimes they will use grandmother’s maiden name as the child’s middle name.

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