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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-03 14:23
Subject: [help] O mighty blogospheric brain, re 19th c. German naming conventions
Security: Public
Tags:family, germany, help

Another appeal to the mighty blogospheric brain, to see if anyone can shed some light on 19th century German naming conventions among sibling groups. This one from my Dad, who avidly pursues genealogy.

German naming system 19th Century

One ancestor and three of his brothers all immigrated to the US. They have all been identified in German baptismal records for the early 19th century. However, a fifth brother, of whom we have never heard, also turned up.

Even stranger, the ancestor’s given name was Georg Lorenz. However, his baptismal record says his name is Lorenz. The fifth brother was born and baptized after Lorenz and given the name Georg Michael. Is there any logical explanation for the older brother to have taken his younger brother’s first name?

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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User: melissajm
Date: 2011-09-03 21:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not sure how much this will help, but my German great-great grandfather had 7 boys, all named Christian, and 7 girls, all named Caroline, and distinguished among them by their middle names.
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User: rekre8
Date: 2011-09-04 04:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

I don't know about Germany, but in McCullough's first man of Rome series she showed how the firstborn son in a family always got named x, the second got y, and if x died, y was renamed x, since he's now the oldest. The girls all had the family 'girl' name officially, and then got a nickname.

This is inferred rather then spelled out. The first 300 pages or so was a little confusing. I understand the books are a well researched dramatization, so I guess it's how it was done. Doesn't help with your research, but an interesting idea.

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That Which Fights Entropy: eye
User: amberite
Date: 2011-09-05 22:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, I was thinking something like this.

A fifth brother never-previously-heard-of probably died in childhood, given the 19th century. The extent to which people frequently did not survive childhood, before antibiotics, is something which we as people who've grown up post-antibiotics frequently underestimate.

I don't know the cultural naming conventions of the era, but it sounds like a perfectly reasonable hypothesis that a traditional name used in the family would be appended to someone else's name after the original bearer died.
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User: saveswhat
Date: 2011-09-04 05:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe you're related to George Foreman? :-D

Seriously, maybe Georg was a favorite of the parents, and since Lorenz "stuck", they went ahead and reused Georg.

I've known Catholic families who were loyal to one saint or other and used that saint's name repeatedly. Maybe St. Georg was a favorite saint?

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User: ramblin_phyl
Date: 2011-09-04 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If dad had a patron who supplied money, food, a job, a house, naming multiple children after him was some kind of assurance that his name would live in heaven forever. (not sure the origin of that little custom).

Same goes for a patron saint, a revered ancestor, or a landlord in feudal times. Any one of those reason could become a tradition and linger long after usefulness or memory of why.
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User: torreybird
Date: 2011-09-05 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My Germanic family reuses names like crazy. It's not only that we like the name, it's a recognition of the repetition of traits, and reinforcement of family connection. It ends up being more cross-generation (1st and 2nd cousins), or diagonal (1sts and 2nds, once or twice removed, aunts, uncles), than down-generation (parents, grandparents.) I don't think we've reused names in the same household in my lifetime.
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User: bridget_coila
Date: 2011-09-06 22:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't know the reasons, but I have a German ancestor who definitely took on her younger sister's name after the younger one died. Perhaps it is a tribute thing?
In her marriage documents she is "Julia Laura Baumstark White" - by her own hand- but she was born "Julia Baumstark" (the White was adoptive parents after her parents died when she was a teen)
The real Laura Baumstark died of Yellow Fever when she was 9, a few years after their parents had died.
They were in New Orleans, 1st generation Americans of German immigrants.

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