Naming Patterns

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Sephardic Naming Patterns


When considering whether Isaac (The Blacksmith) named his children in any particular pattern, it is worth examining how the Sephardic community named their children.  

Naming Patterns

There is an interesting article in the Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England (JHSE) written by Edgar R Samuel "New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names".  These naming patterns are generally fixed although there are a couple of rule exceptions.  The main rules are:

  1. Children are named after the forebears.

  2. The pattern of choosing names is rigidly prescribed

The first son is named after his paternal grandfather

The second son is named after his maternal grandfather

The third son is named after his paternal great-grandfather

The fourth son is named after his maternal great-grandfather

Daughters are similarly named after their grandmothers and great grandmothers.

  1. Where the custom obliges both parent and child to take the name of the same ancestor, they will share the same name.  It is quite common for a son to be given the same name as his father (or daughter as her mother).

  2. A Posthumous son is named after his father, or daughter after her mother.

  3. The younger children are sometimes named after their other uncles and aunts.

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Isaac's Children

From the tree we can see that Isaac's known children are:






"Chrisum" Child



If "our" Isaac is the son of Jorge Alonso or George (or Isaac) and the great grandson of Abraham (Antonio) we would have expected to see:

Isaac (named after paternal grandfather Jorge Alonso or Isaac), possibly George or Alonso Jorge.  Although it is probable that Isaac only knew his father as Isaac.

? Named after maternal Grandfather (Mary Humphries Father)

Abraham (paternal great-grandfather)

? Named after maternal great-grandfather (Mary Humphries grandfather)

NOTE:  Of course the 'Chrisum' Child, died at birth and is given this name in the registers.  A Chrison child died before its Mother was churched. The name comes from the "Chrison" shroud placed around the baby after birth and delivered to the Church for its ablutions after the Baptism/Christening. A Chrison Child was often buried in this shroud.

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Conclusions (if any)

This does not look quite how we would expect it to be if Isaac was naming children in a Sephardic pattern, although we believe he hardly could have known his father (if any assertion about his father being Isaac/Jorge/George being correct) and so may not have had the necessary information/tradition handed down to him.

The first child would have been Isaac

The second would be named after Mary Humphries Father

The third child would be Abraham and so on.

So what can we conclude?  I do not think we can add, with certainty, that Isaac used a naming pattern as detailed in the rules above.  What we can see is definite Sephardic names and perhaps the possibility that some are named after the Grandfather and Father of Isaac, if this link is ever proven.  It does not get us much further but adds an extra dimension when considering who Isaac's father may be.


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