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Trade You a Maria for an Ermelinda
By Melody Lassalle


If you have been researching your Portuguese family tree for any amount of time, you've notice that they weren't very creative with their names. Antonio, Maria, Jose, Joao, Manoel, and Rosa fill out most early genealogies.

How many Maria's can one family have? Did a mother ever revolt and say "That's it! There is not going to be another Manoel in this family! I'm naming the baby Feliciano!"? I think I would have! When you're researching and hit a name like Apolinario, Engracia, Guilhermina, or Joaquim, you feel like you're the luckiest researcher in the world! Of course, if these were common names names within your family, then you might be tired of them as well.

Just think of anytime a mother or father called their children for dinner. They would yell "Jose, dinner time"and twenty Jose's would come running for a free meal.

One day out of curiosity and lack of anything better to do, I decided to count the common names in my Pacheco family. I only counted from my great grandparents down which was a task in itself. You can imagine the amount of children named Maria and Manoel in this small microcosm.

This is how it came out:
The children of Ana Jacinta (de Melo) and Jacinto Pacheco and their spouses:
Group #1--Antonio & Alexandrinha:
Known children:
Maria, Louisa, Rosa, Manoel, Jacinth, John, Frances, Antonio, Baby--name unknown, Sofia, and Beatrice...Total children: 11

Group #2--Manoel & Jacintha
Known children:
Jacinto, Antonio, Maria, Louisa, Bertha, Joao, Manoel, Anna, Pulunaro, Catharina, Jorgina, Joseph, and William...Total children: 13
Group #3--Maria & Joaquim
Known children:
Joao, Theodoro, Maria, Christina, Georgina, Frank, Jesse, and Isabel...Total children: 8

Group #4--Jose & 1st wife Francisca; 2nd wife Maria:
Known children:
1st marriage: Francisco, Manoel, Rosa, and Joseph
2nd marriage: Baby--name unknown, Joseph, Maria, Amelia, Louis, Joao, George I, Alfred, and George II...Total children: 13

Group #5--Joao & Joana; 2nd m. Januario
Known children:
Joana's 1st marriage: Francisco, Maria, Theodoro, Antone, Isabella, Joao, Helen, and Frances
Joana's 2nd marriage: Ollie, William, Eva, Joseph, Adam, and Theodoro...Total children: 14

Group #6--Francisco & Alexandria
Known children:
Francisco I, Jose, Theodoro, Manoel, Marie, Sophia, Frank, Francisco II, Eva, Helen, and Richea (Richard)...Total children: 11

Group #7--Theodoro & Maria
Known children:
Jose, Maria, William, Theodoro, Seraphina, and Joao...Total children: 6

Ana & Jacinto had 76 known grandchildren! Keep in mind that many babies died very young. Many of these were not recorded and many parents did not wish to speak of these lost children. So, we may have no idea of the total number of children born to the Pacheco families.

Let's analyze the names a bit. You'll notice right off that the Pacheco's name their male children after each other. Forms of Antonio, Joao, Jose, Manoel, Francisco, and Theodoro figure prominently. For the females, Maria placed in every family. A couple of children were named after Ana and Jacinto. The reuse of names is quite common when a child died young. Hence, the family with 3 Francisco's (2 Franciscos and 1 Frank)

You'll also notice that naming patterns change. These families had their children in Hawaii and California. The first children were given traditional Portuguese names. But, as children were born after 1900 the name practices changed. The names Richard, Helen, Beatrice, Adam, and Christina crop up. Although each of these may have Portuguese variants, they were not present in earlier generations of this family. And, with most names, the Anglicized versions were recorded in later records. However, it's more than likely that William was called Guilhermo or Guilherme, Joseph was called Jose, and Frances was called Francisca by their parents and the older generation.

Now that we've seen the names, let's add them up! (The variant spellings/forms will be placed together)

The male given names:
Adam 1
Alfred 1
Antonio 3
Francisco 5
George 2 Joao 5
Jose 5
Louis 1
Manoel 4
Pulunaro 1
Richea 1
Theodoro 4
William 2

The female given names:
Amelia 1
Anna 1
Beatrice 1
Bertha 1
Catharina
Christina 1
Eva 2
Francisca 1
Georgina 1
Helen 2
Isabella 2
Louisa 2
Maria 6
Ollie 1
Rosa 2
Sofia 2

For the males Francisco, Joao, and Jose dominated with Manoel and Theodoro in a close second. For the females Maria is the clear winner.

I would imagine that the Pacheco naming practices are fairly indicative of Portuguese families around 1900. Pre-1900 the families tended to use more traditional names and naming patterns. After 1900, families came in contact with other nationalities and you see these names and more American sounding names popping up. The next generation would change their naming practices, but they would fall into the same trap as their parents. They would choose the popular names of the day. The post 1900 generation would then overuse Norman, Madeline, Agnes, Clarence, Ethel, Edith, Robert, Mary, Violet, Jo-Ann, Laurence, Albert, Donald, Barbara, and a host of other names very common to American society.


© 2005 Melody Lassalle

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