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Jr., I, II
Posted: 02 May 2007 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]
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How did the American naming convention of Junior and numerals come about in the States when we don’t have it in Europe, as far as I know? It seems to be a WASP only thing, too. Is this right? Is there a first-documented Jr. or II? Does the numeral appear on birth certificates, and are varying middle-names bunged in to otherwise distinguish father and son (eg George H.W. Bush and George H. Bush - though this team don’t use Jr. etc.)? Is it always the number one son who becomes a numeral or a junior?
What is the highest numeral reached so far? Does it extend back to second-generation Plymouth Brethren folk or later? Why was the convention adopted? Was it the idea of founding a family dynasty by affluent people? George Hamilton IV is the highest I can come up with and he is old enough to have a grandson. Hang on, Malcolm X!!!

Also, in the book Fast Food Nation there is a burger chain called Carl’s Junior. Did the founder, Carl, mean Carl Junior’s?

(I can’t work out how to use the quote function. Are there instructions anywhere?)

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Posted: 02 May 2007 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The post-positive use of “junior” with names is cited in the OED back to 1409 (in Latin in the “Durham Acc. Roll”, and in various English sources from the 17th century), so I don’t buy your premise that it’s an Americanism.  The use of I, II, III, etc., after kings and popes is obviously also a European invention, I suppose it’s possible that it spread to the common folk only in the US, but I doubt it.

For Carl’s Jr. you could check out their website; the 1950s link explains that Carl had a drive in and then opened smaller shops that he called Carl’s Jr.’s because they were smaller than the original drive-in.  Carl himself was not a Jr.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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People can, of course, name their children anything, but in my experience, junior is usually used for a son of the original, whereas a II is usually reserved for a skipped generation. If I was named for my father, I would be a junior but if I was named for my grandfather, I would be a II. Once you get past junior, then it’s numerals all the way down. As for how far it goes, I don’t know the record, but actor Tom Cruise is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV and there was a fourth in my freshman class in college, so I would guess that fourth’s are not that rare.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The boxer George Foreman has 5 sons and has named them George Foreman Jr., George Foreman III, etc. on up to George Foreman VI.  That’s the maximum number so far for this thread and also illustrates that it’s not exclusively a WASP thing.

BTW, it’s usually but not invariably the oldest son who gets named after the father.  If the middle names are different then it’s not the custom to use a “Jr.” or number.

[ Edited: 02 May 2007 01:22 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 02 May 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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From the Farnborough (Kent) Parish History, available online at
http://www.farnborough-kent-parish.org.uk/parish_history.htm

[I]n 1576 William Gibbins, the previous Rector had died and had been succeeded by George Smith, Master of Arts of All Souls, Oxford, aged 30 years.... George Smith, named here in the Register, was the first of three generations to be Rector of both parishes, being succeeded by his son, George Smith II, and by his grandson, George Smith III, who died in 1650 during the time of the Commonwealth (1640-1660).

The first British colony in the Americas was Jamestown, founded in 1607, so it’s not very likely this George Smith picked up the idea from Americans. And I’ve no reason to think that this is the earliest example in Britain, it’s just something I turned up by Googling “Smith III” site:.uk.

[ Edited: 02 May 2007 01:39 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 02 May 2007 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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A snippet of interest from the Wikipedia article on name suffixes.

There is no hard-and-fast rule over what happens to suffixes when the most senior of the name dies. Do the men retain their titles, or do they all “move up” one? Neither tradition nor etiquette provides a definitive answer (columnist Judith Martin, for example, believes they should all move up, but most agree that this is up to the individual families). Upon the death of John Smith Sr., his son, John Smith Jr. may decide to style himself John Smith Sr. (causing confusion if his widowed mother and his wife both use the formal style Mrs. John Smith Sr., and necessitating that his son and grandson change their titles as well) or he may remain John Smith Jr. for the rest of his lifetime. One advantage of moving up one is that it eliminates the extension of Roman numerals over the generations: i.e., a John Smith III, IV, and V. A disadvantage is that it may cause confusion with respect to birth certificates, credit cards, and the like. In practice it is quite uncommon for families to go beyond “III” in naming children. Often the names only exist for a single generation.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think Martin Luther King, Jr. also illustrates the fact that this is not an exclusively WASP convention.

And how about actually naming a son Junior? It seems to me that this is more common in Polynesian families in NZ.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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One advantage of moving up one is that it eliminates the extension of Roman numerals over the generations

I always thought that a “Jr.” would move up and become “Sr.” upon the passing of his father, but that the Roman numerals would remain. Therefore, John Smith III might be styled “Jr.” in his younger years and “Sr.” later on--the “Jr.” passing on to John Smith IV, but he would forever and always be the III.

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Posted: 02 May 2007 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dave Wilton - 02 May 2007 05:22 PM

I always thought that a “Jr.” would move up and become “Sr.” upon the passing of his father, but that the Roman numerals would remain. Therefore, John Smith III might be styled “Jr.” in his younger years and “Sr.” later on--the “Jr.” passing on to John Smith IV, but he would forever and always be the III.

I agree.  Here’s the John Davison Rockefeller lineage at Widipedia (which comports with my own memory of it)

First: John Davison Rockefeller (1839–1937) (m.1864) Laura Celestia Spelman (1839–1915)
Second: John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960) (m.1901) Abigail “Abby” Greene Aldrich
Third: John D. Rockefeller 3rd (1906–1978) (m.1932) Blanchette Ferry Hooker
Fourth: John Davison ("Jay") Rockefeller IV (1937) (current “Junior” senator from West Virginia
Fifth: John Davison ("Jamie") Rockefeller V (1969)—(as far as I can tell, he and his wife have two daughters--Laura and Sophia)

Interesting that there was another John Davison Rockefeller (1872–1877) born to William Rockefeller (1841–1922) (m.1864) Almira Geraldine Goodsell.  William Avery Rockefeller was the first John Davison Rockefeller’s brother who may have named his son after his brother.  That son only lived 6 years. 

William Avery was a “Jr” (edit: but his brother “John Davison” was 2 years older!) Their mother’s maiden name was Davison.  William Avery Rockefeller Jr and his wife produced no other boys by that name.

And am I right in assuming that the numerals only come into play in the third generation (was this already said?  If so, beat me on and upon my head and shoulders).

[ Edited: 02 May 2007 09:10 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 02 May 2007 08:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Is there a first-documented Jr. or II?

I think the Romans had it, though in slightly different forms, along with other STDs (sexually-transmitted denominations).

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Posted: 03 May 2007 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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nomis - 02 May 2007 04:44 PM

And how about actually naming a son Junior? It seems to me that this is more common in Polynesian families in NZ.

In the UK there is a celebrity couple that seems to be permanently in the magazines and on the telly. They met on a celebrity reality show and subsequently got married. They are Katie Price - she’s a glamour model - and Peter André - he’s a singer. A quick Google tells me he was born in England, but lived in Australia for most of his life and is of Greek Cypriot descent. A year or two go, they had their first child and named him Junior and I remember thinking it was a strange sort of a name. I’d never heard of anyone calling a child that, as an actual name, rather than a nickname. I thought you had explained it and that’s why I looked it up, to say thanks for the explanation; but he’s not a New Zealander or from a Polynesian family.

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Posted: 03 May 2007 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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From here:

Just for fun, “Junior” ranks higher than “Jody” [on NameVoyager]… I’m fascinated that there are people out there actually giving a wee bitty baby the legal first name “Junior.”

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Posted: 03 May 2007 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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In Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, Bertie Wooster is discussing with Jeeves the case of a man who has declined a knighthood, for reasons that Jeeves explains thus:

“...he shrinks, no doubt, from the prospect of being addressed for the remainder of his life as Sir Lemuel.”

“His name’s not Lemuel?”

“I fear so, sir.”

“Couldn’t he use his second name?”

“His second name is Gengulphus.”

“Golly, Jeeves,” I said, thinking of old Uncle Tom Portarlington, “there’s some raw work pulled at the font from time to time, is there not?”

“There is indeed, sir.”

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Posted: 03 May 2007 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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From the movie Problem Child:

Martin Beck: Move over, kid. I’m looking for a guy named J. R.
Junior: That’s me! Junior!
Martin Beck: I drove over a thousand miles, to hang out with a seven year old.
Junior: I’m going to be eight in two weeks.
Martin Beck: Don’t count on it.

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Posted: 05 May 2007 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The Madness of George III was released as The Madness of King George - apparently because some people might have thought it was a sequel.

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Posted: 07 May 2007 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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MoMac - 03 May 2007 12:16 AM

they had their first child and named him Junior and I remember thinking it was a strange sort of a name. I’d never heard of anyone calling a child that, as an actual name, rather than a nickname. I thought you had explained it and that’s why I looked it up, to say thanks for the explanation; but he’s not a New Zealander or from a Polynesian family.

There was an African-American (black) baseball player named Junior Kennedy who played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1974 to 1983.  The 1970’s was the first time I’d ever heard of anyone being given the name “Junior”.  Since then I’ve heard a lot of unusual names come out of the African-American community, particularly in the sports world, so I assumed U.S. football player Junior Seau was actually named Junior, but it’s a nickname.

And then there was this guy I knew when I was a kid, whose family name was Meloro (Italian), and he was a V (5th).  That was also in the 1970’s, and I remembered wondering if his family had been in this country for 5 generations already, or if the tradition had begun in Italy.  Too bad I didn’t ask him, because I haven’t seen him since high school.

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