What’s in a name …


What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Romeo and Juliet -William Shakespeare

I want to take you back to a time when your name meant that you are family. A time when a chosen name for a child was inherited from someone close within the family itself. Like maybe, John was named after his father; or the grandfather, and sometimes the beloved uncle. Even the women in the family were honored with a namesake. Although mother/daughter name sharing is extremely rare in today’s traditions, it was quite popular only a couple of generations back. Another name choice could have been the mother’s maiden name given as the child’s middle name, or even turning the mother’s maiden name into the child’s first name.

The “Irish naming pattern” is a strong tradition for our Irish ancestors:

  • 1st son named after father’s father
  • 2nd son named after mother’s father
  • 3rd son named after father
  • 4th son named after father’s oldest brother

This same pattern is also followed with daughters (e.g., 1st daughter named after mother’s mother, 2nd after father’s mother).

As basic as this sounds, it’s one of my favorite clues when researching a family tree. It sort of gives you a sense of how important the family unit was, and maybe how important a particular family member was.

This is my great-grandfather Henry Upton Titus Sr born in 1898.

His name has intrigued me for many years because there is no one else in my family with the name ‘Upton’ (besides my grandfather who is Jr.). Where did he inherit his name? I have been up and down my family tree and I’ve found one possible connection. Henry’s mother, Ada Porter, had a sister named Sarah Porter, who married a man named J Henry Upton in 1896. This leads me to believe that my great-grandfather was most likely named after him. Or maybe he was named after J Henry’s father, Henry Orlando Upton? Now remember, this was still an era when names connected families together. So I asked myself, what man would name their child after another man who is by all accounts not blood related? The answer; a significant person in his life! Either way, someone in the Upton Family must have been very important to my g-grandfather’s parents. I have yet to find out the real answer. So if anyone knows the answer or remembers any family stories… please enlighten me! In the meantime I’ll keep digging!

Here are some fun facts about the Upton Family:

Henry Orlando Upton purchased the “Old Turner House” in 1883, which you would recognize today as The House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA. The Uptons lived in the house for 25 years until they sold it to Caroline Emmerton in 1909 who restored the house to what it is today. The Uptons were the first to offer tours of the house for 25 cents. They were all involved in the Arts. Henry O. was a musician and taught dance lessons. His son J Henry was a muscian. His daughter Ida was a well known artist.

Thanks for stopping by.  Until next time... 
Find me, remember me

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