Thursday, December 8, 2011

A new trend toward posthumously bestowed middle names.

I keep noticing a recent trend toward adding middle names or initials to ancestors where there are no such “middle” names in any of the primary source documents regarding that person’s life.

"Among the British stock of the southern colonies middle names were rarely bestowed on children until after the Revolution and did not become customary until the mid-1800s.

During the 17th century, fewer than one in a thousand male Virginians of British stock carried a middle name. Studies of public records in several Virginia counties suggest that parents gave their children more than one name so rarely that the practice was essentially nonexistent."

Middle Names in the Southern Colonies from Bob’s Genealogical Filing Cabinet.
Here are just a few of the Reeves individuals’ that I have encountered with recently acquired middle names –

William Reeves who died in Granville County, North Carolina in 1751 appears in several places throughout the internet with the middle name “Cabell”. I spend an exorbitant amount of time researching North Carolina Reeves yet have never seen either William Reeves or his son William Reeves, Jr.’s names written with a middle initial or a middle name. Not in the tax, court and deed records of Granville, Edgecombe or Chowan counties of North Carolina. Is William Reeves of Granville, North Carolina being confused with William Cabell Rives of Albemarle, Virginia?
William Cabell Rives (May 4, 1793 – April 25, 1868) was an American lawyer, politician and diplomat from Albemarle County, Virginia. He represented Virginia in both the U.S. House and Senate and also served as the U.S. minister to France. See Wikipedia
My ggg grandfather, George Reves (Reeves) who died in Warren County, Kentucky in 1827 appears to have been given the name "George William Reeves" by several websites. Yet in none of the primary historical documents located these past thirty years has he been listed with that or any middle name. I also find it odd that if he did, in fact, have a middle name it would be William since he had a brother just a few years older by that name.

Mary Jordan, the wife of George Reeves, born 1716, has been referred to as Mary "Charlotte" Jordan in numerous websites. There are very few historical records naming Mary Jordan and in none of them does she have the name Charlotte or any other middle name. George and Mary Jordan were the parents of Charlotte Reeves Robertson of Nashville fame.

Peter Reves signature at age 83
Recently I noticed on that someone has given Peter Reves, the brother of my ggg grandfather George Reves of Warren County, Kentucky, mentioned above, the middle initial "T". Peter relocated from Wake County, North Carolina to Halifax County, Virginia where he was at one time the sheriff and in his later years chairman of the county court. In none of the extant documents that were executed by him does he include either a middle name or initial in his signature.

What's up with this? Why do we need to give them middle names?

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