Archive for April 5th, 2012

John Johnson

One of my geeks is name history – how names have evolved and changed over time.  And a lot of surnames were once standardized ways of indicating familial relations by taking the father’s name.  When my brain isn’t reeling over ways that we have taken surnames that start with “mc” (or “mac”) and therefore once meant “son of” into names for cute baby girls, I am amused by names like the one on this tombstone.  (By the way, I take heart that most of the kids who would tease the little girls for having a “boy’s name” don’t know what I know about the history of the name.)  The most obvious formation to indicate “son of” is affixing “son” to the end of the name.  So way back in time, the first Williamson in a family line was just a guy whose father was named William.  Same for Robertson, Richardson, Johnson…  As surnames became more static, the name passed down through the generations even though each individual person who bore it was not the son of a man with that name.  So I don’t truly know if this tombstone is for a man who shared his name with his father, but it could be.

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