Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 14:02:41 EST
From: Boyd Davis FEN00BHD[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UNCCVM.UNCC.EDU
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 --