Using a Family Surname as a Middle Name for a Girl

I need some advice about using a family surname as a mn for a future daughter. This is a family tradition on my side of the family. I, my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother all have been given family surnames (instead of traditional first-names) as middle names. I like this custom because it would give me the opportunity to honor an entire branch of my or my husband’s family when naming our kids. Right now, we don’t know if we are getting a boy or girl, but I am focusing on girls’ names because I find them more challenging.

On the other hand, I always regretted a little bit that I did not have a pretty first-name-style middle name. So I was thinking I might give my future daughter 2 middle names (a pretty first name type mn togethher with a family surname mn). However, there are just so many names (that is, first-name-style names) that I would like to use as middle names. So now I am wondering if I should stick with the surname middle name tradition at all, but instead use two first-name-style middle names.

But then again, I am a stickler for tradition, and I would love to honor as many people in my family as possible. I am very attached and proud of some of the surnames that are in my and my husband’s families.

[name]Hope[/name] this is clear!
Would love opinions and thoughts. Thanks.

Totally depends what names you’re talking about. If the traditional name here would be “Stinker,” then avoid it. :slight_smile:

[name]Hi[/name], thanks, no, I wouldn’t use any of the ugly family surnames of our family (and, yes, there have been some). I’m not so proud of and attached to those names that I would choose them. But there are other family surnames that are perfectly nice names (as surnames). They are not the kind of name I would choose as a first name, but in the middle, that’s just what they would be, middle names. Not the sort of middle name that might be resurrected as a substitute first name, though. [name]Hope[/name] that makes sense.

Run some options by us so we can think of some combos.

Yeah, sorry – I still need to know what names we’re talking about here. My mother’s maiden name, for example, is [name]Cameron[/name], and if it weren’t for [name]Cameron[/name] [name]Diaz[/name] I’d have used it; it’s my sister’s middle name. My grandmother’s maiden names were Whalen and [name]Armistead[/name]. [name]Armistead[/name] is a go, Whalen is a no.

Sorry, grandmothers’.

[name]Just[/name] giving my opinion of your situation without any specific names, I think you should continue the tradition of the family surname middle name. It sounds like tradition in general and this tradition specifically are important to you, and you’re right that honoring family with your child’s name is a clear signal that family history is important to you.
Since you also love the pretty first-name-style names, I think using two middles is a great solution. This provides both the honoring family/honoring tradition value that you think is important and gives your daughter the story of how you came up with her two particular names–because you loved them, heard them in a story, they have great meaning, etc.
I do not think that you should use two middle names if neither of them is a family surname. It seems somehow selfish that you chose all these beautiful names and couldn’t be bothered to include any family names. So, if you don’t go with a family surname for a middle name, I think you should only use one middle.

OK, thanks for your opinions so far…
One of the family surnames I could use (and of course, there are many) is [name]Anderson[/name]. It was my grandmothers’ maiden name. Now, if I have a boy, I can see [name]Anderson[/name] fitting right in. But what do you think of it as a 2nd mn for a girl? I can’t give you any full combos b/c I’m not there yet, but suffice it to say that the first name and the first of the middle names that I would choose would be very feminine. Also, I should add that I would very like choose a family name for the first mn, too (eg. a grandmother’s first name, mother or mother-in-law’s name, etc).

One of my aunts has … actually 2 of my aunts (one who is not related to me by blood, so a different mother) have their mother’s maiden name in the middle and one is very similar to [name]Anderson[/name]. Then aunt who is related has a twin with a surname of a family friend/benefactor for a middle name which is quite often heard as a male first name (not common now), and not feminine or unisex. I don’t think it’s weird at all, and I love traditions. I have not seen this carried on with my generation and the children coming after.

All aforementioned aunts are over 60 - and the twin aunts’ parents, my grandparents, had two sons before them with regular given names in the middle, as well as a daughter who died in infancy with a given name first and middle, thus was not an “oldest daughter” tradition.

I really like the significance of it, though, and while I don’t have this tradition in my family either, I have been looking through my family tree lately and find some things to work with. I have also found out, unlike my generation and on, many of my ancestors honored their ancestors and repeated a lot of names (mainly first names). Some male family also have surnames in the middle, but it has been hard enough to figure out who married who and if I’m on the right track to even find out as many middle names (if any), so far.

I think if this is a family tradition, especially for females who lose their maiden name and still keep someone else’s, it is a very nice idea and quite efficient to place a signal in your lineage. “[name]Deirdre[/name]” um… (make-believe) “Renssalaer” tells me to look for someone named Renssalaer, where “[name]Rebecca[/name]” does not - I can’t tell if you were named for someone or not with a name like [name]Rebecca[/name]. Meanwhile your own maiden name/family may be chosen in the future, pointing to you and your line.

At least if you are using your own family’s names, this works. If you just like someone else’s last name, like my grandmother chose for one of my aunts, then it’s not going to be helpful. It’s still nice though. I think if you are choosing two middle names at this point, you ought to stick with a tradition. If there were no tradition, you may have very well started one anyway, or just pick two names you like. I don’t have this tradition, not in a uniform, organized way, but I may borrow the idea. Won’t be around to see if it pans out down the line, but I’d do what I could.

Thanks for this very thoughtful response. I think I probably will end up using surnames as middle names for all of my kids (boys and girls) since I am very interested in my family history and genealogy (as is my DH). It gives us a chance to go beyond the one surname from my DH. And since I didn’t take his name, officially, anyway, I should probably get my “maiden” name in there somewhere (at a minimum). Unfortunately, we are very average in that we probably won’t have more than 2 kids, so it’s hard to get all the names in there that we’d like. So far, we don’t have any, though, so I guess we’ll figure it out as we go along. But I do love the flow of three pretty first-name style names for a girl. Oh well. I think tradition will probably reign. Fortunately, some of our family names are just too ugly to use even as middle names, so we can cut down on the choices that way! The only other problem is that if you have
FirstName + 1st Middle Name (from a family member) + 2nd Middle Name (family surname) + Surname, it seems like the two middle names should go together, like they should be the full name of someone in the family. It seems weird to pair a grandmother’s name from one branch with a surname from some totally different branch as the two middle names, for example.

I think that [name]Anderson[/name] is a very usable middle name and next to your surname may look like a double barrelled name which your daughter may like to use in the business world eg Ms [name]Anderson[/name]-[name]Smith[/name].

Or she may opt to use [name]Anderson[/name] in the business world eg Ms [name]Arabella[/name] [name]Anderson[/name], events organiser and this can give her some privacy outside work from her business collegues, and she can still be listed in the phone book as [name]Arabella[/name] [name]Smith[/name], so all her friends/acquaintances and family can phone her.

There are some AWESOME names in my genealogy. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I’m betting there are some cool ones on your lines too! We have Rushton, Tamlyn, and Kingdon, just to mention a few.

Bottom line though, it’s your kid! [name]Do[/name] what you want to do!

I have 2 middle names, one surname from each side of my family. I’ve always loved that my name encompasses so many family members and made everyone feel included. Everybody in my family has always had family names in the middle. My DH was given a name that his mother liked as a middle and has never felt any connection to it at all.

When we named our son, we had an easy choice for a middle since both of our fathers have [name]Gordon[/name] as their mn. Since we hyphenated his last name I held myself back from going with 2 middles, but [name]LOVE[/name] the idea of it.

I have a similar dilemma. I definitely want to use my maiden name as a middle name for our daughter. It is something that I feel quite strongly about, even though it will make quite an awkward middle name in many respects - it’s an unusual Italian surname. So I am going to have to work round it and I am leaning towards giving a more traditional first name as another middle name (so… first name + first mn + my maiden name as a second mn + surname). The danger is that the first mn becomes a complete ‘filler name’ so it has to be one that we either really love, or another family name (a first name not a surname). I think we are going to use my husband’s granmother’s name. I don’t think it matters that the two middle names come from different ‘sides’ i.e. his family and my family.

So… that’s a long winded way of saying that I love the idea of using a family name as a middle name. To be honest, I think that if it is used as a second middle name it will rarely be used - but your son or daughter will know it’s there and appreciate its meaning.

I think [name]Anderson[/name] is fine as a second MN and as someone has already said, she can always have the option of couble-barrelling her surname. I really wich I had a ‘name’ surname like [name]Carter[/name] or [name]Parker[/name] or [name]Harper[/name] or [name]Piper[/name] or [name]Hadley[/name] r somethhing so I could do the same thing but my maiden name is [name]Brown[/name] so that’s not going to happen… : (