|Many Scotts families follow the custom of
naming thier children after the grandparents in the following manner.
- First born son named for the paternal grandfather.
- Second son named for the maternal grandfather.
- Third son named for the father.
- First born daughter for the paternal grandmother.
- Second daughter for the maternal grandmother
- Third daughter for the mother.
This can cause families to have two children
with the same name if the grandparents had the same name. The process also started over if
the parent remarried, so it is common to find half brothers or sisters with the same
names. Not all Scotts families followed this pattern, but many that did continued it long
after leaving Scotland.
People of all countries tend to use forenames which run in
the family. In Scotland families not only use such names but they tend to follow naming
patterns - the most common of which is:-
1st son - named after his paternal grandfather
2nd son - named after his maternal grandfather
3rd son - named after his father
1st daughter - named after her maternal grandmother
2nd daughter - named after her paternal grandmother
3rd daughter - named after her mother
Although this naming pattern was not always used, it can be
a useful indication to genealogists. Unfortunately, this pattern is not used to the same
Scottish 1700 - 1800 and early Dutch
First Daughter was named for her Maternal Grandmother
Second Daughter was named for her Paternal Grandmother
Third Daughter was named after her Mother
Other Daughters were named after other Family Members
First Son was named after his Paternal Grandfather
Second Son was named after his Maternal Grandfather (sometimes Paternal)
Third Son was named after his Father
Another way families end up with more than one child with the same name is through high
child mortality. Before modern medicine fewer children survived to adulthood. Parents
often reused the name of a dead child for the next child born.
In Scotland - as in the rest of Western Europe - there were
four main ways of acquiring a surname:-
Patronymic - taking the father's Christian name e.g.
Occupation - e.g. Smith (the most common surname of all)
Locality - e.g. Wood
Nickname - e.g. White, Little.
Patronymics - Lowland names such as Wilson, Robertson,
Thomson and Johnson are among the most common surnames in Scotland. 'Mac' names are also
patronymic. MacManus - son of Magnus. 'Mc' is just a printer's contraction and has no
significance as to etymology.
Occupation - Names which are derived from trades and
occupations - mostly found in towns. The most common of these is Smith (the most common
surname in Scotland, England and the USA) but other examples would be Taylor (tailor)
Baxter (baker) and Cooper (barrel maker).
Locality - In Scotland the tendency is for people to be
named after places (in England the tendency is the opposite). Examples of such names are
Morton, Lauder, Menzies and Galloway.
Nickname - Names which could refer to colour or size, e.g.
White, Black, Small, Little. Scottish names in this category include Campbell (meaning
'crooked mouth'). Another example of nickname - this time referring to the bearers origins
- is Scott.
Origins of some Scottish surnames
Fraser - Originally De Frisselle,
de Freseliere or De Fresel. The first recorded bearer of the name was Sir Simon Frasee who
held lands in East Lothian. Fortunate marriages enabled the family to acquire lands all
over Scotland. By such means they acquired Philorth in Buchan in 1375 - this became the
chief seat of the Frasers. The family was raised to the peerage in the person of the first
Lord Lovat. To the Gaels the chief of the Frasers is known as MacShimidh - 'son of Simon'.
Bruce - A locality name from
Normandy - Brix near Cherbourg. The first recorded bearer of the name accompanied William
the Conqueror and the second accompanied King David to Scotland to claim the throne. This
was the family which produced Robert the Bruce and, although the royal line died out in
1314, the name Bruce is today among the hundred commonest Scottish surnames.
Robertson - a patronymic name.
The first bearer of the name was Robert, grandson of Duncan the Fat (Donnchadh Reamhar).
The family acquired lands in the central Highlands. However, the commonality of the name
in Scotland can only be explained, not by any connection to the original family, but by
the large number of people who adopted the name because it was their fathers' forename. In
Gaelic the clan continues to be called Clann Donnacha - Duncan's children - from their
descent from Duncan the Fat.
Stewart - an occupational name.
It comes from the office of steward which was a position of importance under the Crown.
Among alternative spellings of the name are Stuart and Steward. Mary, Queen of Scots
favoured the spelling Stuart as there is no 'W' in the French language. To the Gaels the
Stewarts are known as 'the race of Kings and Tinkers'.