What relationship does a 'name father' have to a child

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What relationship does a 'name father' have to a child

Post by mackisack » Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:46 pm

Dear Folks, I tried to search for this but the search engine said name and father were too common, sorry about that, I hope this is not an FAQ.
I have been doing more social research trying to understand some of the background for my gg-grandfather George Gordon Smith, baptised in Forres in 1803: his 'name fathers' included The Most Noble Marquis of Huntly, who I think was named George Gordon, and George Cumming Esq of Forres.
This suggests some relationship between GGS's father and these gentry? I have wondered if his father Rev Mr Alexander Smith of Forres might have been employed by the Cumming family, perhaps as tutor for children? GGS named one of his sons William Gordon Cumming Smith, and William Gordon Cumming was a son of George Cumming, which suggests a fairly close connection. . GGS's sister Christian had a 'Name Mother' Miss Christian Houshold of North Sugar House, Glasgow, sister of George Houshold of the Fontine, Glasgow who was manager of a sugar refinery, sounds like a fairly rich family.
I'm trying to find out more about what 'Name fathers' or 'name mothers' implies about relationships between the parents and these people, and between the children and these people. Would they have funded apprenticeship fees for the children, or something like that?
Alexander Smith was the son of Thomas Smith, gardener in Brodie, and is described in other birth records as 'preacher of the gospel in the Church of Scotland', ,‘Preacher “Ecclesia Scotica not consumed”': he appears never to have been minister of a parish and does not appear in the Fasti. There is no suggestion that his family were even minor gentry: and his children followed apparently ordinary middle-class lives. So why would the Marquis of Huntly have been Name father for his son? Is there perhaps a book about this sort of historical relationship that someone could suggest please?
Thanks for any pointers,

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Re: What relationship does a 'name father' have to a child

Post by Falkyrn » Tue Feb 18, 2020 5:41 pm

In the book History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland By Edward J Cowan in Chapter 4 he uses the term "Name Father" to describe a connection through the male line to the origin of the clan
the members of the true clan were related to one another through the male line and that the eponym or name father of the clan was a historical, and not a mythical, figure
The same definition is also used in the book Scotland: A History from Earliest Times By Alistair Moffat
~RJ Paton~

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Re: What relationship does a 'name father' have to a child

Post by WilmaM » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:47 am

I've never come across the term before.

Could it not simply be either -
the child's God-Parent or sponsor.
The Person the child was named after - your examples do share names.

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Re: What relationship does a 'name father' have to a child

Post by Currie » Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:44 pm

It seems, as Wilma suggested, that it was just the person the child was named after. Looking through the newspapers it seems that the term was used for places and things and animals as much as for people. For instance there was a ship launched in Leith whose name father was a local dignitary, a fort located at a place whose name father was a Saint, a donkey in Italy whose name father was an English nobleman, and a Wellington Boot whose name father was you guessed it.

All the best,

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