The following are some examples of various Scottish naming patterns. The reference website is noted following each example:

Scots often named children by following a simple set of rules:

1st son named after father's father

2nd son named after mother's father

3rd son named after father

1st daughter named after mother's mother

2nd daughter named after father's mother

3rd daughter named after mother

Although this was not universally applied (some families adhered strictly, others “dabbled” and still others ignored it), it can still be helpful in determining the correct entry when confronting the relative lack of information in the OPR’s. It can also give rise to great confusion when eight children of the same family in a small parish name their offspring according to convention! The use of traditional naming patterns gradually declined during the 19th century.

The application of naming conventions and the general desire to ensure that a family forename perpetuated through the generations, sometimes led to duplication of forenames within a family. For example, where a family wished to adhere strictly to the traditional naming pattern, and both grandfathers bore the same forename, that name might be given to more than child.  If a child died young, parents might name a later child after the dead sibling. In unfortunate cases, the name may have been used more than once.

Sometimes there appears to be no rhyme or reason to the naming: a child might be named after the minister, the midwife, the doctor, an employer, an influential personage in the community or a close friend, who might appear as a witness to the birth. Witnesses are not always given in OPR entries, but where they are, sometimes (as in Dundee) you will find their relationship to child, if any, noted, e.g. “Charles Jobson, grandfather”, “Mrs Janet Speid, father’s mother”.



First son - named after child's paternal grandfather

Second son - named after child's maternal grandfather

Third son - named after child's father

Subsequent sons - named after uncles, cousins, or whomever First

First daughter - named after child's maternal grandmother

Second daughter - named after child's paternal grandmother

Third daughter - named after child's mother

Subsequent daughters - named after aunts, cousins, or whomever

http://www.members.shaw.ca/pitblado.genealogy/ wmanne/genpattern


First Son is named for the Father's Father

Second Son is named for the Mothers Father

Third Son is named for the Father's Grandfather, Fraternal

Fourth Son is named for the Mothers Grandfather, Maternal

Fifth Son is named for the Fathers Grandfather, Maternal

Sixth Son is named for the Mothers Grandfather, Fraternal

Seventh thru tenth Sons are named for the Fathers Great Grandfathers

Tenth thru Fourteenth Sons for the Mothers Great Grandfathers


First Daughter is named for the Mothers mother

Second Daughter is named for the Fathers Mother, Maternal

Third Daughter is named for the Mothers Grandmother, Fraternal

Fourth Daughter is named for the Fathers Grandmother, Fraternal

Fifth Daughter is named for the Mothers Grandmother, Maternal

Sixth Daughter is named for the Fathers Grandmother

Seventh thru tenth Daughter are named for the Mothers, Maternal Great Grandmothers

Tenth Thru fourteenth Daughter for the Fathers Great Grandmothers


In some cases you will find that the order is reversed with the first and second children, i.e. the First-born son being named after the Mother's father and the Second-born son after the Father's father. If this is the case then the daughters are also usually reversed.

You will also find instances where a child is named 'out of pattern', after an Aunt or Uncle who has died, or after an admired other relative or friend of the parent.

These are only general guidelines and were certainly not always followed.

http://www.homepages.rootsweb.com/~scottish/ ScottishNamingPatterns


The Scottish named their children as follows, although this was not always the case!

 1st Son named after Fathers Father

2nd Son named after Mothers Father

3rd Son named after Father

4th Son named after Father's oldest brother

5th Son named after 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother  


1st Daughter named after Mothers Mother

2nd Daughter named after Fathers Mother

3rd Daughter named after Mother

4th Daughter named after Mothers oldest sister

5th Daughter named after 2nd oldest sister or Fathers oldest sister



1. The way in which Scottish families named their children can be extremely helpful when trying to trace ancestors. The convention was as follows:

1st son named after paternal grandfather

2nd son named after maternal grandfather

1st daughter named after maternal grandmother

2nd daughter named after paternal grandmother

 Subsequent children were usually given other family names including those of their parents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Although there are exceptions, on the whole this custom was followed in Scotland until the early years of the 20th Century.

2. It was also common to find two or more children within a family being given the same         Christian name if the first holder of the name died during the mother's childbearing years. The practice of using the same name more than once is particularly evident where the child who died was named after a grandparent.

3. During the early - mid 19th Century it became more common for Scottish children to be given middle names. Often this was the maiden surname of the child's mother or grandmother although sometimes a child's second name used the surname of a close friend.

 Of course, these patterns are helpful in tracing ancestors, but they can be confusing. For example, my father was called Samuel Lennox after his grandfather, but his cousin was also         called Samuel Lennox after the same grandfather. If the original Samuel Lennox had had more than two sons, then no doubt there would have been more Samuel Lennox cousins and more potential for confusion!! Families worked around these problems by various methods. My father was always known by his second name, Gordon, while his cousin was always known as Sam.