Family name confusion
A FEW weeks ago I wrote about family names. Following this, a correspondent from Fort William has been in touch to tell me about two brothers from Lochaber who were killed on the same day in the first World War.
They were both christened John which caused some confusion when their regiment came to dealing with their effects.
John Carmichael and his brother of East Laroch, Ballachulish, fought at Flanders with the 1st (8th Battalion) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (A&SH) and were killed in action on November 13 1916. One was a corporal and the other a private. Puzzled by the duplication of first names, the officer in charge of records at the A&SH depot in Perth wrote to the Reverend Alexander Boyd, the Church of Scotland minister at Ballachulish, asking for clarification and received the following explanation: Dear Sir, In reference to the enquiry regarding two brothers having the same name John, I have to explain that this peculiarity is quite common in the Highlands where the people are Gaelic speaking - one member of a family being called by an English name and another member of the same family being called by the equivalent Gaelic name so that colloquially no confusion could arise.
Thus, in regard to the soldiers in question one was called by the English name John and the other by the Gaelic name Ian (=John in English). One was named after his paternal grandfather and the other after his maternal grandfather. Similar examples in regard to other names are fairly common due to the fact the people are bilingual.
Alexander Boyd, The Manse of Glencoe, Ballachulish East.