Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What’s In A (Ancestor’s) Name?


"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"
~ Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2)


Parents today have greater choice and freedom in choosing their child’s first or given name than parents of past centuries. Roman Catholic families in Quebec during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries had to consider the laws and customs of the Church when naming their child. For example, priests were forbidden to allow “profane or ridiculous names”, and could command that a child be given the name of a male or female Saint.1 A list of acceptable names was even published to guide parents.2

Curious about the types of names among my ancestors, I surveyed the names in the second through the seventh generations of my family tree. Of a potential 126 ancestors, 12 are unknown or are duplicate (cousin marriages), leaving 114 ancestors (57 male and 57 female). Here are the results.

Male Ancestral Names

Rank
First Name
Amount
Popularity
1 (tie)
Joseph, Pierre
20
35%
2
Jean-Baptiste
7
12%
3
François
5
9%
4
Charles, Louis
6
11%
5 (tie)
Ménésippe, Olivier, Régis, Toussaint
8
14%
6 (tie)
Albert, Alexis, Antoine, Etienne, Eugène, Ignace, Louis Antoine, Maurice, Michel, Narcisse, Paul
11
19%

Female Ancestral Names

Rank
First Name
Amount
Popularity
1 (tie)
Marguerite, Marie
10
18%
2 (tie)
Angélique, Elizabeth, Louise
12
21%
3
Josephte
3
5%
4 (tie)
Adélaïde, Agathe, Catherine, Desanges, Flavie, Marie Louise, Thérèse
14
25%
5 (tie)
Angélina, Archange, Arline, Clémence, Clémentine, Cordélia, Euphrosine, Geneviève, Jacqueline, Julie, Juliette, Marcelline, Marie Anne, Marie Elisabeth, Olive, Olivine, Reine, Scholastique
18
31%

Sources:

1. “First & last names”, database, PRDH (Le Programme de recherche en démographie Historique) [The Research Program in Historical Demography] (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/nomsPrenoms.htm : accessed 30 April 2012).

2. “First & last names”, database, PRDH (Le Programme de recherche en démographie Historique) [The Research Program in Historical Demography] (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/nomsPrenoms.htm : accessed 30 April 2012). A list of acceptable names (1,251 for boys and 373 for girls) appeared as an appendix in Rituel du Diocèse de Québec [Rites in the Diocese of Quebec], 1703, by Monsignor Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Quebec.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting results and an intriguing strategy Yvonne! I should look at my lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Pauleen! It was certainly a fun and enlightening activity and I got to learn a bit more about my ancestors.

      Delete

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