Baby name consultation: Brother for Twiggs!

I posted a consultation for Lily and her hubs for their first baby a few years ago, and then posted the birth announcement for their baby girl, who was given a name full of meaning for Lily’s family (especially Lily’s dad, for whom his granddaughter is named). I’m delighted that they’re back again for Baby no. 2, a boy!

Lily writes,

My husband is a Jr. and he is wanting to possibly make this little guy a III … [But] I don’t think Jeffery Lee goes with Twiggs! Twiggs is a pretty hard name to top! And man does she fit her name!

[W]e would possibly like to use his same initials. Also we would be good with using his grandfathers name Leland Boyd as middle name options or Lee.

I would like a name that goes with Twiggs. I also like names that sound more like last names and not common. I really like Whitt, Tate, Miller, Carter. My number one name is Whitt … I really like Whitt Leland or Whitt Boyd.

My husband wasn’t too sure about names he likes he said other than a name like his he wasn’t sure. So is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?!?

I thought that last question — “Is there a common ground between Whitt and Jeffery?” — was perfect! It perfectly articulated the naming dilemma!

Lily provided a fuller list of names she likes:

Whitt
Sutton
Myers
Tate
Harris
Mack
Fitch
Finley
Asher
Jasper
Jensen
Johnson
Carter
Colt
Porter
Brick
Miller
Ward
Reade

As well as names they can’t use:

Josh (ua)
Joseph
Jefferson
Jacob
Jack
Jackson
Luke
Vincent
Robert
Henry
Owen
Andrew
Ross
William
Johnathan

This was definitely a challenge! Seeing that they’ve already named one child, normally I’d want to stick with names that are similar to it, but Twiggs isn’t an easy name to find style matches for, mostly because it’s a family name and one that was important to Lily, rather than necessarily being a “style” that they like. That said, though, it is clear that Lily prefers surnamey names! Whitt is very cool, and I also like both Whitt Leland and Whitt Boyd.

In trying to figure out what Lily’s hubby’s style is, just based on the fact that he’d like to consider Jeffery Lee III and isn’t sure what other names he likes other than “a name like his,” my sense is that he likes traditional boy names, preferably with a family tie. So I really wanted to try to find names that they would both like — “common ground between Whitt and Jeffery.”

One tactic would be to do something similar to what they did with Twiggs, whose given name is Lucy Twiggs — call their little boy by a name different from his given first name. They could have him go by his middle name, like Twiggs — maybe something like Jeffery Whitt would satisfy Lily’s husband’s desire to have his son named after him, while giving Lily an everyday call name that she loves. Lucy Twiggs and Jeffery Whitt sounds pretty great to my ear.

Another way to call him by a different name than his given name is with a nickname that he could go exclusively by. There are a few that are traditional for boys that are the Third, which might work nicely: Trip, Tripper, Trey, and Trace all have usage as nicknames that nod to the fact that the boy is a Third. I have a cousin who is a Third who has always and only gone by Trey; my sister had a classmate who is a Third and has always and only gone by Tripper. Trip and Trace are also great. So then Lily’s hubby could be happy with Jeffery Lee III on the birth certificate, and Lily could be happy with calling him Tripper all the time (or whichever she likes the best). Twiggs and Tripper/Twiggs and Trey/Twiggs and Trace/Twigs and Trip all sound great!

I like that they’re open to using Hubby’s initials, and I definitely looked for J names while I was doing my research because of it! I like the ones on Lily’s list — Jasper, Jensen, Johnson. I love the idea of Leland or Lee as the middle name, very meaningful for her husband!

Moving away from using Hubby’s actual name/initials, maybe he’d be happy with names from his family tree? Lily mentioned Boyd, and a good friend of mine recently named her son Boyd, so I wondered if that might appeal to the both of them, in honor of Lily’s hubby’s grandfather? Boyd Jeffery maybe? Boyd Lee?

From the list of names Lily likes, I thought names that have traditional usage as first names, rather than mostly last names, would be a good middle ground between her style and her hubby’s. Those include Mack, Asher, Jasper, Carter, and Colt. Does he dislike those?

I was bummed to see Jefferson on their “no” list! That’s definitely one I would have suggested!

I did do my usual research in the Baby Name Wizard for this family, looking up names that are similar in style to Lucy and Jeffery, as well as any of the names on Lily’s list that I could find in the book: Tate, Carter, Asher, Jasper, Porter, Reid (in place of Reade), Lee, and Leland. I also looked through a book I have called A Dictionary of English Surnames, which has some really cool ideas, as well as the listing of English Martyrs, as their last names seemed like a good place to find meaningful names they might like. And of course, I looked through my book of Marian names. My goal was to find names that appealed somehow, whether they were as first names, middle names, or ways to get to nicknames. This is what I came up with:

(1) Leo
I’ll start with one that I don’t *think* Lily will love, but maybe she will? Leo is a style match for Lucy, and it’s a big name in my own family, and all the Leos go by Lee. So I thought maybe Leo nicknamed Lee would be a nice nod to her husband while still giving their son his own first name. Leo Jeffery maybe, as a way of sort of reversing Hubby’s name? Or Leo Boyd?

(2) Caleb
Caleb is actually a style match for both Carter and Asher, which made me think it might be a great compromise name for them. The nickname Cal seems like it might be the kind of nickname Lily’s husband could get on board with. It’s a great name for a boy.

(3) Everett
Everett isn’t a surname as far as I know, but I’ve always thought it has a surname feel. Such a handsome name! It’s a style match for Jasper.

(4) Bennett
Moving more toward Lily’s preferred style, I thought maybe surnamey names with “normal” nicknames could be another compromise. Bennett has long usage as a last name (as well as a first name), while Ben is a solid first name/nickname. Bennett is a match for Cooper and Reid.

(5) Evans
This is another idea of surnamey names with a first name feel — Evan is a first name, of course, but even just adding an S on the end makes it a last name and gives it an unexpected twist.

(6) Cort
This is one that caught my eye from the list of English Martyrs — Venerable Thomas Cort, a Franciscan — and it reminded me of some of the shorter names Lily likes, like Whitt, Tate, Mack, Colt, Ward, and Reade.

(7) Leeson
Leeson is actually an entry in the book of Marian names that I wrote — I’d discovered it in that book of English surnames and loved that it’s derived from the Latin Laetitia, which means “joy,” by way of the common medieval female variant of it, Lettice, and its short form, Lece; they all connect to Our Lady through her title Causa Nostrae Laetitiae (“Cause of Our Joy”). For Lily, I particularly love that it’s a surname that has her hubby’s middle name right in it!

(7) Jebb, Jebson
Jebb and Jebson were listed in the book of English surnames, and were both said to have derived from Gepp, which derived from Geoffrey, which is where Jeffery comes from. So in that sense, Jebb and Jebson can be for her husband in the same way as Jefferson, but in a different way. Very cool!

I also looked through the surname book for more J names, in case they decide they want to stick with Hubby’s initials. I thought these might be appealing to them:

Jacoby (I know Lily said Jacob was on their No list, but maybe Jacoby would be ok? It’s derived from Jacob/James)
Judd, Judson (derived from Jordan)
Jerred (derived from Gerard or Gerald)
Jessop (derived from Joseph)
Jones (derived from John)
Jory (derived from George)

And those are all my ideas! What do you all think? What other name(s) would you suggest for Twiggs’ little brother?


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

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To do or not to do: Non-firstborn Junior

I’ve been trying to get this post written for, literally, weeks, ever since Grace’s consultation post in which she said,

I suggested Simon for a boy but Simon said that ship has sailed since we didn’t name our first born Simon but I disagree

And I said,

though perhaps it’s more traditional to name a firstborn son after dad, if you’re going to do that kind of thing, it’s not UNtraditional nor unheard of to give Dad’s name to a subsequent son. I’ve got loads of personal examples: we named our firstborn after our two dads, and our second boy got my husband’s name as a middle, my brother’s second son is a Junior, my two brothers were named after my grandfathers, and if there was ever a third boy he would have gotten my dad’s name as a middle. There’s something really nice about naming a non-firstborn after Dad, actually — there are a lot of traditional firstborn ‘perks,’ so saving Dad’s name for a second/third/fourth son could help even the playing field a bit.”

(Just to clarify: By “Junior” I mean using Dad’s name either in its entirety as a first+middle combo, or using either his first or middle as the son’s first or middle. This isn’t the actual definition of course; this explains the rules for all of it.)

I was interested to hear about your thoughts and experiences too! One of you emailed me to say,

my husband is the third born son and he is a junior. His father passed away when he was two so he absolutely loves being a junior.”

My aforementioned brother and sister-in-law Juniored their second son, and my SIL explained that her thought process is similar to mine,

we did talk about not having a junior and using [a different] middle name but we figured if we were going to use the [the same first] name … we would make him a junior.

We also felt that being a first male born is a big deal and being a 1st male and a junior might be too much! So I always liked that our Jr is our 2nd born.”

And a friend of mine connected me with a friend of hers whose second son has the same first name as Dad. For them, it was more important to name their first son after a different man:

A couple of years prior to my first son’s birth, one of my husband’s closest friends (named Michael) was killed in Iraq as a Marine. As soon as we knew I was pregnant with a boy, we knew we would named him Michael.

My second son is named after my husband. If not for Michael losing his life we may have named our first son after my husband. I’m not sure.”

The idea of honoring a different man than the dad with the first son’s name — and not naming a son after Dad until the third one! — is actually an  old naming custom in Irish, English, Italian, and Scottish families, and other heritages as well.

But a couple of you felt strongly that Junioring a non-firstborn is to be advised against:

I do know a set of brothers (grown men in their 60’s …) and the older brother somehow feels that the parents saved the junior name for the younger brother and feels hurt by it — to the point where the whole family cautions against using junior for a younger brother … So, if a family wants to use a junior name on a younger son, it might be a good idea to check with the older brothers and make sure that they wouldn’t feel jealous/hurt/unworthy, etc. Or at least they could kind of feel the situation out without tipping their hand too much if they think that they don’t want to burden a kid with making that kind of decision.”

And,

I never gave much thought to the importance of name order until I met my husband. He’s the oldest and he and his younger brother have the same middle name, but their parents called the younger brother by his (their) middle name. The name was their paternal grandfather’s name and their deceased uncle’s name. So, it’s a family name and was given to my husband first as his middle name, then repeated and “chosen” for his younger brother. It has been an issue between them and their parents for their whole life. We chose to never use a family name because of it. I think a family name can be an honor, but it has the potential to cause hurt feelings when not used traditionally.”

So a lot of good thoughts here! I feel so badly for anyone who feels hurt over the name their parents gave them (or didn’t give them), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the issue in those cases is often bigger than just the name. Like the name is a symptom of a bigger problem, you know? So while my personal feeling is still that Junioring a non-firstborn is not that big a deal and can in fact be a really great thing, I also think that particular personalities and family culture should be taken into account as much as possible, if possible. Also, these strategies might help in trying to make sure all your kids know how special each of their names are, no matter who they are/are not named after.

I also did a quick search for articles/posts on the topic, and came up with a couple good ones:

Naming Baby After Dad — Classic or Showy? by the Name Lady

Junior status: Sharing dad’s name a mixed bag, which quotes name expert Cleveland Kent Evans

And this craziness, which isn’t on point but is related: We’re Halfway to the Perfect Namesake Name! (The mom wonders about using “ISS” instead of “II” or “Jr.” — have you heard of this??)

What do you all think? Do you have any other examples for either the pro or con list?