[help] O mighty blogospheric brain, re 19th c. German naming conventions

Another appeal to the mighty blogospheric brain, to see if anyone can shed some light on 19th century German naming conventions among sibling groups. This one from my Dad, who avidly pursues genealogy.

German naming system 19th Century

One ancestor and three of his brothers all immigrated to the US. They have all been identified in German baptismal records for the early 19th century. However, a fifth brother, of whom we have never heard, also turned up.

Even stranger, the ancestor’s given name was Georg Lorenz. However, his baptismal record says his name is Lorenz. The fifth brother was born and baptized after Lorenz and given the name Georg Michael. Is there any logical explanation for the older brother to have taken his younger brother’s first name?

3 thoughts on “[help] O mighty blogospheric brain, re 19th c. German naming conventions

  1. Cora says:

    There is always the possibility that Lorenz added the name Georg later in life, e.g. when he immigrated to the US. Did Georg Michael perhaps die very young, so that his older brother might have taken his name in his memory? Or maybe Georg had some special significance for that family?

    Where in Germany did your ancestors come from? Naming conventions can differ quite a bit between different parts of the country.

    With multiple first names, the first of the multiple names is not automatically the name the person is known by. For example, my grandmother was baptized Friederike Magdalene, but she was always known as Magdalene. I didn’t know that her first name was Friederike until she died. Something like this might play into your name change as well.

    Of course, it also possible that the registrar just messed up, when recording the birth or baptism. Or that the father (who is usually the one to report a birth) had celebrated a bit too much and accidentally gave the registrar the wrong name and so a kid who was to be called Georg Lorenz became just Lorenz. Or the name Georg wasn’t allowed for some reason and the parents had to go with their second choice and privately called their kid Georg anyway.

    Do you have a copy of the actual baptismal records?

  2. Susan D. Slade Grossl says:

    In some German families all the children had the same first names. I’ve run into a whole bunch of Johann’s with different middle names. Some families named their children like this: First born male, paternal grandfathers name, second born maternal grandfathers name. Then if memory serves me right, it would be uncles and family friends on down the line. Same for the females, first born: paternal grandmother, second: maternal grandmother. Again, whole families w/lots of Cathrina blah blah blah’s. Most went by the second name to distiguish them from each other. Another fun item, some had a given name, second name, Saints name then last name.

    It is NEVER easy doing the names from some countries because of the different nameing conventions involved. One has to know religion, area of the country etc…

    1. Cora says:

      Various siblings given the same first name is more of a South German thing, while the North mostly sticks to one person per name per generation.

      That’s why I asked Jay where in Germany his family was from.

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