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 1800s genealogies.
A Standard List of Given Names
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 you 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 get tired of them, too.
Just think of anytime a mother or father called their children for dinner. They would yell “Jose, dinner time” and twenty boys named Jose would come running for a free meal.
Common Given Names in My Pacheco Family Tree
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:
Maria, Louisa, Rosa, Manoel, Jacinth, John, Frances, Antonio, Baby–name unknown, Sofia, and Beatrice…Total children: 11
Group #2–Manoel & Jacintha
Jacinto, Antonio, Maria, Louisa, Bertha, Joao, Manoel, Anna, Pulunaro, Catharina, Jorgina, Joseph, and William…Total children: 13
Group #3–Maria & Joaquim
Joao, Theodoro, Maria, Christina, Georgina, Frank, Jesse, and Isabel…Total children: 8
Group #4–Jose & 1st wife Francisca; 2nd wife Maria:
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; Joana’s 2nd m. Januario
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
Francisco I, Jose, Theodoro, Manoel, Marie, Sophia, Frank, Francisco II, Eva, Helen, and Richea (Richard)…Total children: 11
Group #7–Theodoro & Maria
Jose, Maria, William, Theodoro, Seraphina, and Joao…Total children: 6
How Many Grandchildren Does That Make?
My great grandparents, Anna Jacinta de Mello and Jacintho Pacheco had 76 known grandchildren! Keep in mind that many babies died very young. Only about 45 of these grandchildren made it to adulthood.
Many of the babies that didn’t survive may not leave a document trail. 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.
What Are The Naming Patterns in the Pacheco Family?
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, there’s a Maria in every family. A couple of children were named after Anna Jacintha. Remember that women used a combination of their given name and a religious name. Those Marias were known as Maria dos Anjos, Maria da Conceicao, and so forth.
The reuse of names is quite common when a child died young. Hence, the family with 3 Francisco’s (2 Franciscos and 1 Frank). This was not a Portuguese thing. You see it across cultures. It reminds us that childhood death was a reality for our ancestors in a way we can’t fully wrap our brains around.
Switching It Up in Hawaii and California
The first generation in Hawaii very likely stuck to the names they were familiar with. But, the naming patterns begin to change with the next generation.
The first children born were given traditional Portuguese names. But, for children 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 as widely used by earlier generations of this family.
Once the family migrated, the anglicized versions were recorded in later records. It’s more than likely than not that William or Willie was born as Guilherme, Joseph was Jose. Shandra is not a Portuguese name. She was called Alexandrinha by their parents and the older generation.
Let’s Tally Those Names
Now that we’ve seen the names, let’s add them up! (The variant spellings/forms will be placed together)
The male given names:
George 2 Joao 5
The female given names:
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. You see a mixture of names as well as 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, Lawrence, Albert, Donald, Barbara, and a host of other names very common to American society.
What’s the most common first name in your tree? Tell us about it in the comments!
© 2005-2021 Melody Lassalle