Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 14:02:41 EST


Subject: Re: "little" and "jr"

As a female from Dennis Preston's neck of the woods, I have a Southern double

name, but use only the second part, because I got so tired, as a child, of

being 'Little X'.

Sr, Jr and III..VI was explained to me this way: Sr. is the oldest living

male. Jr. is the next oldest living male named for the senior. Therefore

if Jr. has a son, who continues the name, that son is III.Occasionally there

would be a grandson contemporaneous with the Sr., who would be IV. When Sr.

dies, unless there is some marked social feature associated with either the

Sr-ness of the Sr or the Jr-ness of the Jr,* the Jr. drops the Jr, but the

numbering continues sequentially, and I don't think the numbering changes so

that III becomes Jr. as III wasn't the second. Also, there is some factor

affecting parallel ('cadet'?) branches. Since my explanation came originally

from my mother, who was explaining a rather tangled geneological issue at the

time, I suspect some aspect of the Napoleonic Code is lurking in the back-


*compare Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr, for example

Women in my part of the country seldom had the exact same name as a mother

and grandmother and were more likely to have family names from maternal line

if first name was from paternal, and viceversa.*I suspect these naming patterns

are antebellum habits, ethnically restricted, though the Southern historian

Joel Williamson (and a couple of articles about 5 years ago in the AmHistRev)

looked briefly at patternings in names assigned to slaves (as opposed to

names chosen for oneself or within one's family).

*thus at a family gathering, if there were three females of

a similar age and each was named 'Helen', the use of 'little' and the

middle names would tell family members which family branch claimed which

Helen. Little Helen would be the daughter or oldest namesake (niece or

granddaughter) of Helen-The-Matriarch, wife of whoever was Sr. Helen Anne

would probably be from Second Son's/Second Daughter's family, with the Anne

coming from the 'outside line' and Helen James would be from a third grouping.

While there are variations on this, the members of the extended family would

know how to unravel the particular characteristics of naming patterns within

the family and to explain things like just what 'double first cousin' really

meant. I wish I understood it better --