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Carrying on a family name
April 14, 2008 1:35 AM   Subscribe

Is it OK for a family name (Firstname Middlename Lastname II, III, IV, etc.) to skip generations?

Let's say my husband's name is Robert John Smith and his grandfather's name is Mark Joseph Smith. If Robert John Smith and I have kids, could I name my son Mark Joseph Smith II?
posted by youngergirl44 to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
 
You can do whatever you want, but II seems to be the generally accepted way to do it: In my experience, the use of the term II generally indicates a son who has been named after a family member other than their father, such as a grandfather or an uncle.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:45 AM on April 14, 2008


You can name your kid Pilot Inspektor if you want.

However, your question can't be answered as posed. Does your husband have a brother named Mark Joseph Smith? If so, only HE is entitled to the social numbers that follow Junior and Senior.

If following Judith Martin's guide to etiquette, becomes Sr. when his father dies, and thus *his* son, if also named Mark Joseph Smith, becomes Jr., eliminating social numbers entirely.

If following Emily Post's guide, social numbers are distributed like so:

MJS Sr
MJS Jr
MJS I
MJS II

Etc., etc., etc.. They MUST be in a direct line, so according to both Judith Martin and Emily Post, no, your husband may not name his child Mark Joseph Smith I, because he is not Mark Joseph Smith Jr.

But, this is 2008 and again- youu can name your kid Pilot Inspektor if you want. If you want your child to be Mark Joseph Smith II, you should.
posted by headspace at 1:58 AM on April 14, 2008


I know this isn't your question but I like the Grandfather's first name with the Dad's middle name. So Mark John Smith in your example.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:59 AM on April 14, 2008


I'm named the same as my grandfather, except with a II at the end, and my father has a different name. So I hope it's OK!
posted by panic at 4:06 AM on April 14, 2008


My family did this. I am J Parman the VIII. My dad has the same name and it continues tangentially in a cousin and then another cousin half the world away in Norway. Explains a lot, really. I don't recommend this inane and stupid activity.
posted by parmanparman at 4:12 AM on April 14, 2008


Same here, panic. I am named after my grandfather, but I've never gone by drinkcoffee II. Does that mean I'm entitled?
posted by drinkcoffee at 4:22 AM on April 14, 2008


George Foreman did the opposite of skipping generations: "each of his six sons are named George (George Jr., George III, George IV, George V, and George VI, George Travis Walls). "

"If following Judith Martin's guide to etiquette, becomes Sr. when his father dies, and thus *his* son, if also named Mark Joseph Smith, becomes Jr., eliminating social numbers entirely."

I don't think this is followed too much, since I've seen a few IV's. The numbers will tend remain static for identification purposes, too: the credit bureau isn't going to understand why a man went from III to II because his grandfather died. It is also easier to refer to a man the same way for his life and beyond. George W. Bush vs. George H. W. Bush, etc.

I did know an Elizabeth Jr, so it can work for women, as well.
posted by Monday at 4:44 AM on April 14, 2008


Technically, to be correct, it should be an unbroken line going from Sr. to Jr. to I, III, etc., but people do it many different ways (as illustrated above). A cousin of mine (with a touch of "son of the soil" about him) who has his father's first name gave his son the same name, and called him [name redacted] III. Never had the heart to tell him that it wasn't actually correct.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 4:59 AM on April 14, 2008


If following Emily Post's guide, social numbers are distributed like so:
MJS Sr
MJS Jr
MJS I
MJS II

Technically, to be correct, it should be an unbroken line going from Sr. to Jr. to I


I have never known or heard of anyone with a I after their name (we're not talking about kings, obviously). Examples?
posted by languagehat at 6:45 AM on April 14, 2008


It seems like Emily Post's guide is wrong. Far as I can tell, it goes like this:

Sr.
Jr.
III
IV
V

The I and II are implied, perhaps as you go far enough back into history, the Sr. and Jr. revert to I and II.

While it is most "pure" for it to be direct descendants, you can name your kid anything you want.
posted by gjc at 7:35 AM on April 14, 2008


Actually I do know someone with the "I" after his name. He is not named after anyone, but named his son after himself. He then took on the "I" after his name and put "II" after his son's name.

Strikes me at extremely pretentious.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:47 AM on April 14, 2008


Like gjc said its your kid you can name them whatever you want. But saying this as a boarding school educated WASP it would sort of come across as both pretentious a tacky to attach a suffix without there being a direct line.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:51 AM on April 14, 2008


Like gjc said its your kid you can name them whatever you want. But saying this as a boarding school educated WASP it would sort of come across as both pretentious a tacky to attach a suffix without there being a direct line.

Well, I think it depends on cultural tastes, actually. In the Scandinavian tradition, anyone with the name (IIRC) can be given a number, but the number is rarely used. I used mine only as a source of occasional humor and when I really feel like I need to write down my whole entire name, which wholly and entirely too long.

There are cases in Scandinavia where families will have Oskar IV Mathieson, non-paternal, hereditary. But I doubt is is common or regularly used for identification purposes.
posted by parmanparman at 9:19 AM on April 14, 2008


My brother is named after our father, so he's BBF II since my mother was entirely against the idea of allowing him to be referred to as "Junior" thus skipping the BBF Jr. bit. As such, he goes by his middle name. I suspect his future son will be BBF III.
posted by nonmerci at 9:27 AM on April 14, 2008


Not answering the question, but I've always found roman numerals following names to be unbelievably pretentious. I like Judith Martin's version because it differentiates same-named individuals while avoiding the absurdity of druggists and truck drivers named John Smith VIII. Okay for the royal family and other historical entities. For the next door neighbor (unless you live next door to Windsor Castle), not so much.
posted by nax at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2008


My dad was J.M.N. III -- although as it turns out, his grand-dad didn't actually have the middle name "M", and his dad, IIRC didn't go by J.M.N. Jr. (or II, either). I think my grandma just goofed.

But it was no skin off anybody's nose: I don't think I even KNEW until a couple of years ago, after all three of them were dead. IMHO, if it has a meaning for you & Mr. Smith, and there isn't anybody in the family who'd object, then whatever you want to do is fine.

I have considered whether, if I ever had a son, to name him J.M.N.(-mr. epersonae's last name)...and if so, whether to go with "IV" or just dump the number entirely. :)
posted by epersonae at 10:31 AM on April 14, 2008


Can't say what's technically correct but when I hear someone with the "II" suffix, I immediately think that they were named after a grandfather or uncle and not the father and that seems to be what you're after.
posted by junesix at 11:38 AM on April 14, 2008


There are a couple of reasons you don't see a lot of IV's, the main one being that there's a long-held, cross-cultural superstition about naming a child after a LIVING relative. Many cultures simply won't do it; others get around it by giving baby named after grandpa the II.
(another is that at least in the US, people with money are the ones who tend to do this, and family money tends to get used up after several generations of wastrels)


You could also go with one of the alternate traditions, using middle names:
Neil Patrick Harris has a son named
Omar Neil Harris has a son named
Floyd Omar Harris has a son named
Wilberforce Floyd Harris has a son named
Justin Wilberforce Harris has a son named
etc. etc. Keeps names in the family, and is just as good for daughters as sons.
(although it's quite common already for women to have their mother's pre-marriage name as a middle name, since daughters commonly take their husband's names; rant about patriachy ensues)
posted by bartleby at 7:45 PM on April 14, 2008


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