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Naming Patterns #2


#Scandinavians had great respect for their #ancestors. In addition to living together on the same farm, they also named their children after their ancestors and relatives. The most common pattern was the following:

a) The first son was named after his #paternal #grandfather. Here’s an example: Johan Olsen – we know that because of the #patronymic order (discussed in the previous post), Johan’s father is named Ole. Johan’s son will therefore also be named Ole with a patronymic last name of Johansen.

b) The second son was named after his #maternal grandfather.

c) The first daughter was named after her maternal grandmother.

d) The second daughter was named after her paternal grandmother.


In the case where both the paternal and maternal grandfathers had the same name, usually, only one son would be named after the grandfathers. And the same for the daughters. Though, in my line, one family chose to name their two first daughters Marit after their maternal and paternal grandmothers. And yes, I did verify that the first one didn’t die… I found both girls’ marriage.


The comment about the first one dying makes sense if you know that it was very common to #rename a child that died. Usually, they would keep the first name, but add a different middle name to distinguish between the two. Though some times they would replicate the name completely. A family in my line had 5 girls. The first four girls were called Karen Anna as only the fourth one lived past infancy. When the fifth girl came, they must have been so used to those names and liked them so much, that they named her Anna Karen!


As #Scandinavian families were generally quite large, renaming grandparents would not provide enough names for all the children. Therefore, favorite aunts and uncles, or aunts and uncles that had passed away would often be the next choice.


Looking at these #naming patterns can be a very important clue when trying to distinguish one Lars Pedersen from another, especially if they lived on the same farm.


One final thing to mention, #Norwegians LOVED names, the more the better. It is not uncommon to find children with 3-5 first/middle names. And mixed in with very common first names you can find a wide variety of “exotic” names that their parents came across somewhere. Looking in the christening records, you might find several children in a row with the same “exotic” middle name. I guess living a hard farming life you had to find something to be excited about….

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