A very special week. February 23, 2016 marks the birth of Skylar Rose Walters. The first of our grand daughters gave birth to the first of our great-grand daughters. (Not to slight our first grandson and his two delightful little boys–our first great-grandsons.)
When my grand nephew was born a short time ago, I wrote about his name William and how that name has deep roots in our family tree. Since then I’ve found even more Williams in my paternal line in addition to the plethora in the maternal line.
If the new baby girl were to be named for the most common name in my family tree, it would be Elizabeth, with all its variants–Lizzie, Betty, Betsy, Beth, Bess or Bessie, Letty/Lettie, Lisa/Liza, Libby, Elsie, and more, Mary, of course, would be a contender for most used name as well.
SKYLAR is TRENDING
But Skylar is definitely a unique name, and a very pretty one. I was surprised that according to one web site Skylar is the 48th most common name for little girls these days. It has soared in popularity in the last few years, from something like 1000 three or four years ago. The good news is, Skylar will probably not have three other little Skylars in her kindergarten class. Although it is becoming more popular, it is still not the most common. Newsweek reports on predicted most popular names for 2016, a mixture of the old traditional Biblical names (Nathaniel) and the new and odd (Zephyr).
OLDER NAMING PATTERNS
Once upon a time, families had a strict naming pattern. For instance some of our German ancestors always put a saint’s name in front of the name the person would actually be called. They might have a family of six boys, whose “first” name was Johann (John), but their actually identification would be by middle name. This can be confusing to our generation that thinks we need to call people by their first name, and confusing when genealogical records like census data are recorded by that first name, ignoring the second, or “real” name. Consider brothers John Henry Butz, John Joseph Butz and John George Butz, and their father Johann Wilhelm Butts, not to mention their sisters Anna Cataharina Butz and Anna Maria Butz.
A common practice called for naming the first-borns for their grandparents. For instance, I am named Vera Marie for my maternal grandmother Vera and my paternal grandmother Mary. But you may not always want to follow that practice. If my husband and I had a girl, she would have had to be named Agnes Harriette. Not my favorite combination.
Once the grandparents were honored with names, the next child would be named for his/her mother or father. That accounts for a long string of Williams in our Puritan line.
After that came the names of brothers and sisters of the mother and father. All of those patterns are very helpful to the genealogist, although the use of the SAME name generation after another for six or seven generations can get quite confusing.
COMMON OR UNCOMMON
Our second son was named Michael, just because we liked the name, and it turned out so did a third of the parents of other boys in his grade school classes. (I don’t regret using a common names with the uncommon last name of Badertscher, however.)
Parents now search for unusual names. If young parents today want an unusual name, they can look to movie stars’ children–eg. Apple, Rocket Sageblood or Rainbow.
Or they can look to their ancient ancestors.
The Puritans were particularly adept at mining obscure names from the Bible. (You can read about some of the odd names on my family tree here.) My own family tree has more than one Hepzibah, a couple of Thankfuls and one that puzzles me–Waitstill, in addition to boys named after prophets and girls named after women in the Bible, even the racier ones like Bathsheba.
I’m not at all sure about my grand daughter’s maternal line, or her husband’s tree, but her paternal line does include a few Dutch branches. It is clear that the name derived from the similarly pronounced Schuyler, a Dutch family name, not a first name.
I was all set to riff on the information that Schuyler, and thus Skylar derives from the Dutch word for scholar, but sadly, that frequently stated connection apparently is not true. The Dutch word for scholar is quite different.
Another theory advanced is that Schuyler derives from a Dutch word for shelter, but I’ve seen that theory shot down as well.
The fact is that the meanings you read on the Internet for the name are invented. So I’d like to invent my own meaning for my great-great-granddaughter, Skylar Rose. Honey, you are going to be a BEAUTIFUL and BRILLIANT person, and I would give you shelter any day.
How We Are Related
- Vera Marie Badertscher is the mother of
- Kenneth Paul Badertscher, who is the father of
- Bethany Dawn Badertscher Walters, who is the mother of
- Skylar Rose Walters
I enjoyed your exposition on naming and the latest “twig” on your family tree is adorable. Our sons were blessed to have known 3 of their great grandmothers, one of whom was very hands on in helping to care for them.
I don’t know what the stats are, but I assume that would be quite rare–to know 3 great-grandmothers (or any 3 great-grandparents for that matter). You must have been a young mother, and your mother as well.
My mother always told me I was named for her sister Peggy (Margaret) though it turns out my paternal grandmother, who died years before my parents met, was also a Margaret! My middle name, Jeanne, is also my Mom’s, though I don’t think there’s other family associations. My confirmation name, Elizabeth, honors both grandmothers as well as my godmother, another of Mom’s sisters (I picked that one).
It’s all fascinating – and welcome to gorgeous Skylar!
How nice that you know the (somewhat complicated) history of your name!
Love it! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be featuring you on my favorite reads of the week tomorrow at familylocket.com.
Thanks So much for your mention!