One commonly held belief is the first male child was named after the maternal grandfather, the second male child after the paternal grandfather, the third male child after the father, the first female child after the maternal grandmother, the second female child after the paternal grandmother and the third female child after the mother. While this may be true in some families with enough children to work it out, other patterns and anomalies exist. Sometimes what is left out is as important as what is included.
Edward King and Elizabeth Nichols King had ten children; William, Thomas, John Sr., Isaac Sr., James Sr., Samuel, Elizabeth Nichols (King) Dinsmore, David, Margaret and Sarah. Eight of these children married, had children and lived near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, then the Holston Valley and some moved farther into Western Tennessee, Humphreys and Dickson Counties. Neither Margaret nor Sarah appear to have married nor even to have lived until adulthood. Edward and Elizabeth had sixty-six known grandchildren, five named Elizabeth, an Eliza and a Mary Elizabeth. There were six granddaughters named Sarah. Mary was found four times as was Lavinia/Lavina, twice as Lavinia, once as Lavina and once as Jane Lavinia. Julia was found twice as was Susan/Susannah. On the other hand, there was one grandson named Edward and one Adam Edward. John, one of the most common English names, was represented only three times as John, John Wesley and John Sharp and the same with James, James Harvey and James Preston. Samuel was found twice as were Jonathan, Isaac and Leander.
Edward King and Elizabeth (Nichols) King of the Holston Valley
William King born 1 August 1752 married Elizabeth Sharp and had nine children; Elizabeth, Isaac Newton, Susan, Sarah, Lavinia, Benjamin Harvey, Margaret, William Jr. and Mary Jane.
Thomas King born 17 March 1754 married Susan Ann Sharp and had eight children; James Harvey, Julia Annis, Elizabeth, Mary, Ellen, LouAllen, William Isaac, and Lavina.
John King Sr. born 1 September 1758 married (1) Mary (Nancy?) McKinley and had six children; Edward, Elizabeth, Jane Lavina, William E., John and Priscilla G. John married (2) Sarah White and had four children; Isaac W., Ann, Mary and Sarah.
Isaac King born ca. 1759 married Martha Crouch and had seven children; Jonathan, Sarah, Cassander, John Wesley, William, Matilda, and Elizabeth.
James King born 1761/2 married Isabel Berry and had seven children; Emaline M., Eliza Nichols, Sallie Sharp/Sarah Ann, Amanda, Isabella Adeline, Mary Anney, and James Preston.
Samuel King born 1763 married Susan Torbett and had two children; Hannah and Samuel T.
Elizabeth Nichols King born 1764 married Samuel Dinsmore Sr. and had nine children; James, Sarah, Rachel, Samuel Jr., Leander, Lavinia, Mary Elizabeth, Adam Edward, and Margaret.
David King born 12 November 1765 married Elizabeth Sharp and had fourteen children; Jonathan, John Sharp, Amelia Cornelia, Harriet, Sidney, Julia Mariamna, David Orestus, Margaret Laughlin, Caroline Clarissa, Elizabeth Nichols, Elliner Louise, Sarah Susannah/Sharp, Matilda Malissa and Leander Montgomery.
Only one child, their son John King, was married twice. Twenty-four of sixty-six grandchildren were male, pretty lopsided, closer to one third of the total instead of the statistical choice of one half.
The data – the number of times each name appeared as a first name in the grandchildren of Edward and Elizabeth (Nichols) King.
- Adam, Amanda, Amelia, Ann, Benjamin, Caroline, Cassander, David, Edward, Eliza, Ellen, Elliner, Emaline, Hannah, Harriet, Isabella, Jane, LouAllen, Priscilla, Rachel, Sidney and Susan
- Isaac, Matilda, Jonathan, Julia, Leander, and Samuel
- James, John, Lavinia and Margaret
- Elizabeth and Mary
Their third son, John, named his eldest son after his father Edward, the only Edward in that generation. John was also the son who ended up farming the Edward King home place in Tennessee. Of the brothers, William had the most possible namesakes – four, then James and John – three, then Isaac and Samuel – two, down to David with one, while Thomas was not represented at all in that third generation. Of the three daughters, Elizabeth had five possible namesakes, any of whom could have been named for her, her mother or two sisters-in-law. The name Sarah appears the most frequently, six times, and could be in honor of the daughter who died young, or a sister-in-law, Sarah (White) King. Margaret, appearing three times, could also be in honor of a daughter who died young.
What continues to strike me are the four more unusual names, Jonathan, Julia, Lavinia and Leander, which all appear twice or more in the third generation.
Conclusions to be drawn might include Elizabeth (Nichols) King was likely a beloved grandmother and great grandmother. The next, not quite as obvious, conclusion might be that Edward was neither beloved nor as well known as he died prior to the births of some of his grandchildren and many of his great grandchildren. Even within the known set of 364 great-grandchildren, only four were named Edward. At the same time, 30 were named William, who seems to have been a beloved older brother, father, grandfather, uncle and great uncle. Equal cases can be made that the Elizabeth namesakes should be divided between Elizabeth (Nichols) King, her daughter Elizabeth Nichols (King) Dinsmore and two daughters-in-law Elizabeth (Sharp) King, wives of William King Sr. and David King, the eldest and youngest children of Elizabeth (Nichols) King.
Three hundred sixty-four great grandchildren have been identified, nine of whom were the result of three different first cousin marriages. Several names seem to have higher incidence rates than expected, Alfred for instance was chosen five times, Amanda six times, while Leander a popular family name, was found eight times. William was the most common at thirty times, John twenty, Jonathan ten, James eighteen, Thomas eleven, Samuel ten, David nine, Isaac six, with Edward found only four times. Mary was represented sixteen times, Elizabeth eighteen and Eliza eleven, Sarah seventeen and Susan/Susannah fifteen. Harvey was found seven times vs. Henry represented once. 198 of the 364 known great grandchildren were male, much closer to the norm of 50% 182 of 364, than the previous generation.
I don’t know that you can adequately determine from a distance of generations, if a woman was named for her mother, her aunt, or her grandmother, but I do think you can tell when she wasn’t. If Elizabeth (Nichols) King had been a cross, mean, old woman, any number of those grandchildren and great grandchildren could have been named Martha a popular name of the time, Katherine a name woefully absent from this family’s pattern or Rebecca a name represented strongly in the Holston Valley, but not in this family.
More information about this family, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren is available in the article Names Can Be Clues.