Necronyms

This post is a cross between genealogy research and random thoughts. As I’ve been delving back into my genealogy research, I’ve come across an increasing amount of uses of necronyms.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a necronym is a reference to, or name of, a person who has died. In this case, I’m referring to naming a child after a dead sibling. Thinking in terms of modern-day expectations, necronyms seem a little insensitive, almost like parents are simply replacing their child. However, I found reference in one of the articles I read to naming conventions and traditions. For example, there were traditions that dictated parents name their eldest son after his paternal grandfather. So if that son were to die, the next son born would be given the same name. 

So far, all of these instances have stemmed from the branches of my family tree in the Netherlands. Par of that may be that I’ve traced those lines the furthest (4th – 6th great grandparents). It may be that necronyms were more popular then as ways to honor children who did not survive. Or it could be that necronyms are simply more common in the Netherlands. If you know, let me know in the comments.

Regardless of the reason, necronyms can make for some interesting research. I’ve had a few cases where I thought I found the right person, only to discover a death record for a child. 

Generally, I can then find the correct record, but I have had a couple instances where the death record ends up proving I’ve found the wrong person. That can be more than a little annoying. 

Still, though, genealogy research is rewarding. Finding the “right” person and learning more things about my family makes my effort worth it.

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