I am not named after anyone. I think my mother knew a girl named Dana in high school and liked the name. Incidentally, the story behind Sarah’s middle name is the same. There are two main schools of thought on naming children after others:
- Children deserve their own identities separate from that of relatives and should have a different name from all other family members.
- Naming children after family members, friends, or other people one admires is a way of honoring that person and connecting one’s child to the past.
While I see the point of proponents of position one, I tend toward position two. I think it is interesting to look at naming patterns in families, and it can be one way to help make connections. For instance, the given name “Martin” is so popular in Steve’s family, that when I ran into some Huffs who used the name “Martin” in the area where his grandfather was born in my genealogy research, I was fairly certain there was a connection. As it turns out, the name Martin has been in his family for at least 200 years. The earliest ancestor of his that I can find was Martin Hough, who was born about 1805. His grandson was named Samuel Martin Hough (and he changed the spelling of the last name to “Huff”). Samuel Martin’s grandson was Will Martin Huff, and Will Martin’s son was Ben Martin Huff. Ben Martin’s son Jack named one of his sons Martin. I’m sure each generation used the name to honor the person who had the name in the preceding generation. In other words, I believe that Steve’s uncle Jack named his son in honor of his father, not realizing the name Martin stretched back across eight generations.
I don’t think I have any names in my family like that, but there are cases in which relatives have been named for ancestors. My uncle is named for his grandfather. My aunt’s middle name is my grandfather’s first name. There are other names in my family that have some meaning, but do not honor an ancestor. My sister, for instance, was named after a character in the movie Dr. Zhivago. My mother was named for a girl that my grandfather thought was pretty.
Then there are the comic examples. My father was named after a cousin of his mother’s, who told her that he’d buy her a box of candy if she named my dad after him. That one doesn’t beat my school colleague’s mother naming her and her brother after the new monkeys at the zoo, but it makes me giggle.
My children’s names all have significance in that they are named after people or things that are important to me. Sarah’s name comes from Fleetwood Mac’s song “Sara”; however, I like the spelling with the “h” better, so I used that one (even thought the song doesn’t). Maggie is named for her grandmother, although I will admit I really wanted to name her Stella after my great-great-grandmother. Steve didn’t want to, though, because I guess he used to know a girl named Stella whom he disliked. Her name seems to fit her, and I can’t imagine her being something besides Maggie now. Dylan is named for both the poet Dylan Thomas and my father, which I suppose means he is (after a fashion) named thusly because my grandmother’s cousin bribed her with a box of candy.
My maternal grandfather was named for a book character. My paternal grandfather’s given name was changed (along with his surname) when he was adopted. I found that odd, as he was about nine when it happened. As far as I know, neither one of my grandmothers was named for anyone, but one of my cousin’s middle names is the same as my maternal grandmother’s middle name.
It seems it was the fashion in times past to name the older children after relatives. After the supply of relatives one felt like honoring dwindled (and people had 12 or 13 children), new names entered the family. I think this is the case with my great-great-grandfather Amos. His older brothers and sisters were named for grandparents, aunts, and uncles. He’s the earliest Amos in his family. Of course, I have six other people with some variation of Amos (either first or middle) in my family tree after him.
Then again, names seem to go in and out of fashion. I wonder how odd it will be to have older women named Kaylee and Madison instead of Margaret or Betty. I think some people don’t consider the fact that a name sounds somewhat juvenile when they name their children. The child will grow up and have to deal with that name. I also don’t understand why some folks give their child the diminutive form of the name. For instance, naming a child Bobby instead of Robert. If you name him Robert, you can call him Bobby when he’s little. When he grows up, he can use the more adult-sounding Robert.
Personally, I’ve always kind of liked my name. When I was little, I felt singled out because I was the only Dana in school, but as I grew, I met more Danas. That was the only reason I didn’t care for my name when I was little.
Where’d you get your name from? What do you think of it?