[APG Public List] 19th century middle initials and names

Tom Jones Tom at JonesResearchServices.com
Thu Aug 27 16:56:26 MDT 2009

This is a question that may be more likely answered the other way around 
--- when a likely eponym is discovered, you'll have evidence for 
deducing the middle name, rather than being able to use it to discover 
kinship ties. Born about 1777 and in Kentucky by 1795, this man was 
likely a Virginian. I've seen relatively few middle names and initials, 
especially for men, in the time and place. Nearly all are namesakes. For 
most colonial Virginians the eponym was just about as likely to be a 
prominent neighbor or official as a relative.

Does your man have a Germanic surname? Virginians born into families 
connected to German-speaking Europe might be more likely to have a 
middle name than most Virginians, but theirs could be the name of a 
saint, relative, godparent, or all three. In a few cases a middle 
initial may signify the father's or mother's surname, if the man was 
illegitimate or for some other reason experienced ambiguity about his 
surname. I've also seen rare instances where a middle initial 
abbreviated the first part of a complicated surname ---- John S. Barger 
for John Shufflebarger. If your man was born a few decades later with 
the first name of John, and depending on the parents' religion, the 
middle initial C might have stood for Calvin. In any case, a middle 
initial that does not abbreviate a name would be highly unusual in 
eighteenth-century Virginia. ---- Tom

> jfonkert at aol.com wrote:
>> Good morning to all.  I am working on a man who lived in Kentucky 
>> from about 1795-1825, probably born about 1777.  Throughout this 
>> Kentucky period, he was consistently known with the middle initial 
>> "C."   A full middle name is never spelled out.  Can anyone tell me, 
>> is it likely that "C." stood for a middle given name?  Or might it 
>> have just been an initial?
>> Jay Fonkert, CG
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