Differentiating between Junior and II (2nd)

Did you know that the suffix "Junior" is not the same as "II"? For example, the father of my ancestor "Charles Russell Leonard II", was presumed to be Charles Russell Leonard I, but this is not necessarily true. In fact, it is most likely untrue, according traditional naming patterns, but it can provide other clues about his family.


The "Jr." suffix is assigned to a son given the same exact name as his father. The "II" suffix, however, was commonly used when a child was named after his grandfather, uncle, or other close relative. The "II" indicates this was the second person in the family using this exact name - first, middle and last. For example, if a son was named after his grandfather, the "II" suffix was added to his name, to differentiate between the two. If another person in the family was later given the name, they would have added the "III" suffix. Eventually, as we can see, most people dropped this practice (to the genealogist's dismay), but the "Junior" tradition carries on.


In my ancestor's case, it now makes sense that his father's name was given as "Russel Leonard" by his wife, Sophronia, in her missing persons ad placed in 1833. Perhaps Charles Russell Leonard II, was a NEPHEW or GRANDSON of a man named Charles Russell Leonard?

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