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Father-Son Same Name: Update


Father-Son Same Name: Update
Fall 2002 and Revised 10 Jul 2002

Our Earlier Research

In our Summer 1997 PRENTICE NEWSLETTER we had an article entitled Same First Names: Father and Son . We found that while it is tempting, while searching for a father in the middle 1700s, to assume there is a 50-50 chance, or better, that he has the same first name. To test that idea, we took 20 pages at random from our 1996 PRENTICE BOOK in the middle 1700s to see how many sons had the same first name as their father. We found:

  1. Of 63 males, 9 of the sons (that's 1 in 7, or 14.3 percent) had the same first name as his father, but 54 (that's 6 in 7, or 85.7 percent) did not.

  2. As one would assume, of the 17 fathers involved who had sons, the majority of the fathers (10, or 58.8 percent) named at least one of his sons after himself, but, interestingly, the remaining 7 fathers (41.2 percent) did not name a son after himself.

So, in that time frame, roughly half the fathers named a son after himself, but the odds are only about 9 in 63, or 1 in 7 that the son you are researching is one of them. From a statistical point of view, by focusing on trying to find a father with the same first name, one may be focusing too narrowly.

Our Latest Research

We became curious whether those ratios have changed in recent years. We picked 40 families at random who had 1 or more sons from our PRENTICE BOOK in the 1950s and also the last 40 families from our book who had 1 or more sons in the 1960s. See Fn. 1   We found:

  1. Of 117 sons, 13 of the sons (that's 1 in 9 or 11.1 percent) had the same first name as his father, but 114 (that's 8 in 9, or 88.9 percent) did not.

  2. Of the 80 fathers involved who had sons, only 13 (16.25 percent)of the fathers named a son after himself, while the remaining 67 fathers (83.75 percent) did not name a son after himself. See Fn. 2

Conclusions

While about 5 in 10 of the fathers in the middle 1700s named a son after himself, only a fraction more than 1 in 10 have done so in the most recent generation of fathers having sons.

Why the drop?

It seems likely that it would be in large part because the father has fewer opportunities to name a son after himself. In the middle 1700s the families were much larger. In our earlier sampling of families with sons in the middle 1700s, they had an average of about 3.7 sons per family. That gave the father several opportunities to give a son his own name.

In today's families with sons, there are only about 1.46 sons per family so the father has fewer opportunities to do so.

Try a little test of your own. Ask 10 males if they have the same first name as their respective fathers. I would enjoy hearing from you about your results. You may contact me at dewald@prenticenet.com and I will then update this article to include those results.


Fn. 1: A number of families had only daughters and no sons. We have not included those families in our calculations.

Fn. 2: We did notice that a few fathers did use his own first name as his son's middle name. We have not included those few instances in our calculations.


 
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