Scottish Naming Practices

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Naming Patterns

Many Scottish families used this naming pattern:

Birth order Males Females
1st of sex named after father's father named after mother's mother
2nd of sex named after mother's father named after father's mother
3rd of sex named after father named after mother
4th and above of sex named after other relatives named after other relatives

As an example, say that David White, son of Andrew White and Mary Smith, marries Jane Forrest, daughter of Robert Forrest and Margaret Brown. They have six children, three girls and three boys. The boys would be named, in order of birth: Andrew (father's father), Robert (mother's father), and David (father). The girls would be named, in order of birth: Margaret (mother's mother), Mary (father's mother), and Jane (mother).

Knowing this pattern can be very useful for guessing the names of probable ancestors. Events that can change the order of the names include: naming a child for a recently deceased family member, reuse of a name after the death of child, naming a child for a prominent clergyman, or naming a child for a mid-wife or doctor.

Equivalent Names

These sets of names are often used interchangeably in Scotland.


Michael and Mitchell

Patrick and Peter


Agnes, Ann, and Anne

Christian and Christina

Euphemia, Euphan, and Effie

Fanny and Frances

Grace and Grizel

Jane and Jean

Janet and Jessie