Scottish Naming Conventions.

When looking at Scottish records, you will come across some interesting names. You would have seen this in my blog “Adding Context” published on 7 February 2023. I use this in my example below.

If you have not come across any Scottish ancestors, you may be wondering what this is all about. Basically, middle names are usually derived from parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents etc.

Please note: I am not an expert, but I have read a vast amount of information relating to this subject as I have Scottish ancestors.

How it works.

I will attempt to keep this brief and as simple as possible. Let’s get exploring Scotland and how names are usually derived. Remember, there are always exceptions to any rule.

Here goes:

  • 1st son – paternal grandfather.
  • 1st daughter – maternal grandmother.
  • 2nd son – maternal grandfather.
  • 2nd daughter – paternal grandmother.
  • 3rd son – his father.
  • 3rd daughter – her mother.

Then, it gets even more complicated from the fourth child onward… I am not even going to attempt to explain it!

Check out the Find My Past blog for a more detailed explanation:

My example.

Using the children of Margaret McGregor NICOL and David PLENDERLEITH, let’s see if we can work this out.

  • Jane the first daughter has the middle name of WALKER. This is the surname of the paternal grandmother.
  • George doesn’t have a second name listed.
  • Peterina the second daughter has the middle name of NICOL. This is the surname of the maternal grandmother.
  • David has the middle name of JAMES.
  • William has the second name of NESS BARCLAY.

Jane and Peterina have second names that sort of follow a pattern but are not exactly as previously described. An exception?

These records have not been fully researched as they are not direct ancestors so it is very difficult to determine if the general rules work correctly. There are gaps between the children where it is possible other children may have been born and died. Quick checks with census records only show the above five children. No other children have been found in this quick check.

More Questions?

Now, there are more questions than answers. Does George have a middle name? His birth certificate may answer this question. I am aware that there are connections with the surnames JAMES and NESS BARCLAY so the middle names for David and William may follow some type of naming rule.

From the above, there is some type of pattern that emerges. Further investigations would need to be conducted to determine the answers to the many more questions that arise from this example. Hopefully, you get an idea.

Useful hints.

I have found it very useful especially when looking at the entire family. The middle name, if there is one, provides a hint to relatives who have that surname. Like most things when researching, don’t just guess – Have proof – source and cite all your findings.

With this information relating to Scottish Names – head off –

Discover and Explore.

Tread carefully though!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s