Friday, July 6, 2012


I promise, this is the last installment for names.  But unlike last week, some of this advice actually has application in Catholic etiquette.  If you recall, this week involves the application of the name which you chose.

But first, let us dispense with the last bit of free advice, from our hostess Mrs Fenner, that has nothing to do with Catholic specific advice.  She is not a big fan of giving children nicknames.  Monsignor Manners is a big fan of nicknames because as a child he never got one.  To distinguish him from all of the other “John”s he was the one most often designated to stick with “Johnny,” and name he abhors, (not for other people – but for himself) while all of the other guys got cool nicknames.  It was not until high school that I received my first true nickname and it was all downhill from there.  Now I’ve had so many I can’t remember them all.  (Don’t ask.  I won’t tell you.)

Of course Mrs. Fenner supports the idea of calling one’s child by one of his Christian names, “really, the sensible thing to do,” but if one must pick a nickname to be very judicious.  Never call a boy Junior even though he is.  It is the worst possible taste.”  Others names she prefers we would all pass on are “Baby, Buzzie, Sister, Buddie, Sonnie, Toots, etc.”  If one is going to pick a nickname, pick one that will grow with the child for “names will be outgrown, but may not be shaken off.”  From a guy who was almost nicknamed “Kit” by his father, I appreciate that comment.

Now on to more important things.  Some of these are more important than others.  To start, it is often the practice to name a son after his father.  John Adam Doe may have a son that he names John Adam Doe.  The son, as long as his father is alive, may be called John Adam Doe Jr.  (If “junior” is written out, it is never capitalized.)  The father, save for common speech or for business reasons, is never referred to as “senior.”  “Senior” is never printed.  “It would be better to say, ‘the senior Mr. Doe’ if one wishes to make the distinction.”  The young Mr. Doe loses his “Jr.” title upon the death of his father for all official purposes.

If, while the senior Mr. Doe is still alive, Mr. Doe Jr. has a son, the first two Mr. Does do not change their titles but the youngest Mr. Doe becomes Mr. John Adam Doe III.  Upon the death of grandpa, the third becomes Mr. John Adam Doe Jr.

Now, if instead of the senior Mr. Doe naming his son after himself he had named him Jeffery Alexander Doe but Jeff named his son after his Dad, then the son would be named Mr. John Adam Doe II.  Subsequently if another child in the family is given the same name, say by Jeff’s brother Joseph, he would be Mr. John Adam Doe III and so forth.  If the sons who are demarcated by numerals in turn have sons to whom they pass on the name John Adam Doe, they are given the title “Jr.”  The numeric Mr. Does lose their numbers at the death of the common ancestor. 

In the United States it is not our practice to retain our numbers no matter how attached we become to them.  “It is considered affected,” according to Mrs. Fenner.  They are retained properly in certain circumstances and for the convenience of reference.  John Paul II retains his numbers for ease of reference to his papal era.

So as far as parish records are concerned, numbers and “juniors” are not recorded since they are not permanent parts of one’s name.  Families may be in a parish for many generations so there would be constant crossing outs and re-designations for such names.  It is far better to have birth dates when trying to trace a family name in parish records.  Simply saying, “No!  I want the John Adam Doe Jr.” may not be helpful save for the very savvy secretary who has no way of knowing who is and who is not numbered. 

Go here to generate your child's pirate name for life. 

Next week – guests, robes, and pictures.


Anonymous said...

fie on nicknames

crazylikeknoxes said...

I did not know this. I'm afraid I've perpetuated "affectation" by making the number (4 or IV) a part of my first-born's name, when he should be Jr. as neither grandfather or grandfather are among us today. But I suspect I've negated much of the affectative effect by bestowing "Man-man" upon him as a nickname. While that might take care of the affectation aspect of it, I am 0 for 2 in Mrs. Fenner's book.

lgreen515 said...

My daughter's nickname is Dinky. She loves it.

Anonymous said...

In my classes over the past few years, I have encountered Alexes, MacKenzies, and Madison's. All girls. Go figure!

Pat said...

Ahhhh . . . unisex names. Somehow I don't think that fathers are going to be happy naming their boys "Madison" or even "Alex" anymore.

What is interesting to me is that the girls are being given MALE names. (Is that "radical feminism"?)

We can't recognize the differences between the sexes (notice that I didn't say "genders") by saying
"actor" vs. "actress" etc. Meryl Streep is an "actor." Maybe Johnny Depp wouldn't mind being called an "actress" but I'll bet Russell Crowe WOULD mind.