Double-barrelled name

Double-barrelled name

In English speaking and some other Western countries, a double-barrelled name is a family name with two parts, which may or may not be joined with a hyphen and is also known as a hyphenated name. An example of a hyphenated double-barrelled surname is Bowes-Lyon; an example of an unhyphenated double-barrelled surname is Vaughan Williams. The term is an analogy with double-barrelled shotgun.[citation needed]



Double-barrelled names may be formed for a variety of reasons. Some are formed when the family names of two people are combined upon marriage or civil partnership, thus forming a new two-part surname, or when children are given surnames combining those of both parents. Double-barrelled names may also be used by children who are not brought up by their birth-parents to combine the surname of a birth-parent with that of an adoptive parent, or the surname of their biological father with that of a stepfather. Other families believe that the act of consistently passing on only the father's name is patriarchal in nature and choose double-barrelled names for feminist reasons. Similarly, same-sex couples may want to emphasise equality between partners. In some cases, children whose parents divorce have both surnames, by parents' choice or their own choice if they are of the required age. To avoid the use of double-barreled surnames, a small number of couples create a new blended surname, combining parts of each name into one, such as Villaraigosa.

Among nobility, in the past especially, if a woman married down from her social status it was common for her and her husband to use a double-barrelled name. This was done both so as not to diminish the social status of the woman and to gain for her husband a higher social status.

Double-barrelled names are sometimes adopted when the man has a common surname such as Smith or Jones which the couple want to avoid after marriage; hence double-barrelled names often incorporate a common surname. For instance, if Mary Howard married John Smith, they could choose to become Mary and John Howard-Smith (with the man's surname usually going second). In the vast majority of cases, though, they would simply opt for Mary and John Smith.

Some double-barrelled names are formed in order to prevent a family name otherwise dying out, due to the lack of males in a generation or when notable property is inherited through the female line with a stipulation that the individual inheriting use the family name.

For same-sex couples and their families, the presumptions of gender are irrelevant; many agree on one name or another (usually the more aesthetically pleasing), or combine the two as a double-barrelled name.

In Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, having a non-hyphenated double-barrelled surname is the norm, and in some cases (e.g., Spain) it is actually a legal requirement. See the article on Spanish naming customs for more information.

Upper-class families

A few upper-class families (e.g. Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe; Cave-Browne-Cave; Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound; Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby; Vane-Tempest-Stewart) have "triple-barrelled" surnames (sometimes created when one spouse has a double-barrelled name and the other has a single surname). Nowadays, such names are almost always abbreviated in everyday use to a single or double-barrelled version. There are even a few "quadruple-barrelled" surnames (e.g. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, Stirling-Home-Drummond-Moray; Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax or the French/English surname Taylor-Jendernai-Eirron de Mountstuart, which is the family name for the Marquis de la Eirron) and the surname of the extinct family of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos was the quintuple-barrelled Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville. Captain Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraudatifilius Tollemache-Tollemache de Orellana Plantagenet Tollemache-Tollemache is sometimes quoted as the man with the most ever "barrels" in his surname (six), but in fact all but the last two of these (Tollemache-Tollemache) were forenames.

Written form

Many double-barrelled names are written without a hyphen (this can cause confusion as to whether the surname is double-barrelled or not). Notable persons with unhyphenated double-barrelled names include David Lloyd George (born with Lloyd as a middle name, but self-transformed into a double barrelled surname), the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, Helena Bonham Carter (although she said the hyphen is optional [1]), comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies.

One historic early aviator, Alberto Santos-Dumont, is known to have not only often used an equal sign (=) between his two surnames in place of a hyphen, but also seems to have preferred that practice, to display equal respect for his father's French ethnicity and Brazilian ethnicity of his mother.[2]

Practices by country

In Spain and most Latin American countries, everyone has a double surname by law, although they are written without a hyphen and most people use only their first surname in everyday use. When a person is born, the custom is for them to take the first surname of the father and then the first surname of the mother. Thus, when Sr. Julio Iglesias de la Cueva and Sra. Isabel Preysler Arrastía had a son called Enrique, he legally was Enrique Iglesias Preysler. Where the optional conjunction y (and) is used, the example would become "Enrique Iglesias y Preysler" (never used in the case of Enrique Iglesias; see for example José Ortega y Gasset). On the other hand, actual double-barrelled names exist (called apellidos compuestos), such as Cruz-Coke or Pérez de Arce. For example Luciano Cruz-Coke Carvallo is the son of Mr. Carlos Cruz-Coke Ossa and Ms. Lucía Carvallo Arriagada. In every day use Mr. Cruz-Coke Carvallo is Mr. Cruz-Coke, never Mr. Cruz.

In Portugal, where most of the population have two to four surnames (apelidos de família), the practise of using a double combination of surnames is very common. The person can either use a paternal and a maternal surname combined (à la Aníbal Cavaco Silva) or use a double last name that has been passed down through one of the parents (António Lobo Antunes). The last surname (normally the paternal one) is usually considered the "most important", but people may chose to use another one, often favouring the more sonant or less common of their surnames in their daily or professional life (such as Manuel Alegre or José Manuel Barroso, who is known in Portugal by his double surname Durão Barroso). The use of more than two surnames in public life is less common, but not unusual (see Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen).

In France a recent practice, abolished in 2010,[3] was to use two consecutive hyphens -- (not the same as a "long hyphen" or dash, or with a double hyphen) to distinguish between recently-formed double surnames and ancient hyphenated family names (French: nom composé). The use of double surnames is legal but not customary. Children generally take on their father's surname or, recently, their mother's.

In Canada, especially Quebec, it is not rare for children born since the 1970s to bear both parents' surnames, with no established rules as to whether the father's or mother's name should come first. (In Quebec, under the provisions of the Civil Code enacted in 1980[4], both spouses must retain their original surnames upon marriage. ) This situation was frequent enough that naming laws had to be amended in the early 1990s when those with double surnames began to marry, and wished themselves to give their children double surnames. In such cases, any combination involving at most two elements of the father's or the mother's surname is permitted[5].

In Germany a double surname (German: Doppelname) is generally joined with a single hyphen. Other types of double surnames are not accepted by restrictive German name law. However, exceptions are made for immigrants and for marriages where the double surname already was the official name of one partner before marriage.[citation needed] A 1993 law forbids anyone having more than two components in their surname.[6] Prior to this, it was permitted for adults (e.g. Simone Greiner-Petter-Memm and formerly Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann-Maier-Leibniz[6]) but their children would not inherit the name.[6] The 1993 ban was upheld by the Constitutional Court in 2009.[6] The crew members of the famous First World War light cruiser SMS Emden were allowed to add the name Emden with a hyphen to their surname as a special honour.

In Switzerland double surnames are traditionally written with a hyphen and combine the surnames of a married couple with the husband's surname at first place and the wife's at second. This doubled name is called "alliance name" (German: Allianzname). The first name as such, however, is the official family name, which will be inherited by their legitimate children. So, for example, if Werner Stauffacher is married with Gertrud Baumgarten, both can use the name Stauffacher-Baumgarten. Their children Heinrich and Verena, however, bear only the surname Stauffacher. Prominent bearers of an alliance name are Micheline Calmy-Rey (Federal Minister for Foreign Affaires), Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (Federal Minister for Finance) or Johann Schneider-Ammann (Federal Minister for Economy). Lately, based on feminist pressure, wives have been permitted by law to place their maiden name before the family name. This doubled name is written without a hyphen and is borne by the wife only. So, in the example above, the wife's name is Gertrud Baumgarten Stauffacher, while her husband's name is Werner Stauffacher. Again, the children's names remain Heinrich and Verena Stauffacher.

In Poland a double surname (Polish: nazwisko złożone) is generally joined with a hyphen and by law includes only one hyphen. Polish surnames (nazwisko (N. sg.)), like those in most of Europe, are hereditary and generally patrilineal, i.e. passed from the father on to his children. A married woman usually adopts her husband's name. However, other combinations are legally possible. The wife may keep her maiden name (nazwisko panieńskie) or add her husband's surname to hers, thus creating a double name (nazwisko złożone). A married man can also adopt his wife's surname, or add it to his.

Doubling of surnames is also practiced by the Dutch. A good example would be the name of one of its famous footballer, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. His name derives from the 17th century, when two farming families in the Enschede area of the Netherlands intermarried. Both the Vennegoor and Hesselink names carried equal social weight, and so — rather than choose between them — they chose to use both. "Of" in Dutch translates to "or" in English, which would mean that a strict translation of his name would read 'Jan Vennegoor or Hesselink'.

In the Philippines and Guam, a child customarily will carry the mother's maiden name as his middle name and carry the father's surname. When the female marries, she keeps her maiden name and adds the husband's surname, but does not typically hyphenate it. So, when Maria Rose Aguon marries Jose Lujan Castro, her name becomes Maria Rose Aguon Castro and their children will typically be [forename] Aguon Castro.

In the United States, some women drop their second given name on marriage and take their husband's surname as their own, making their maiden surname into a middle name. Thus, Mary Elizabeth Brown marries John Smith and after marriage takes the name Mary Brown Smith. This is not, however, a double-barrelled surname though it is formed in precisely the same way. This woman becomes Mrs. Smith, not Mrs. Brown Smith, and her maiden surname is not inherited by her children as a surname.

In China, double surnames are not common. In fact, practically all surnames in common use are just one syllable long, giving, in combination with a 1- or 2-syllable long personal name, a 2- or 3-syllable-long full name. However, in 2007 experts and officials suggested that parents should be encouraged to create two-syllable (two-character) surnames for their children by combining their parents' (one-syllable) surnames; this could make people's names more unique, and "could help solve the problem of widely recurring names".[7]

See also


  1. ^ Los Angeles Times Magazine, November 1999
  2. ^ Gray, Carroll F. (November 2006). "The 1906 Santos=Dumont No. 14bis". World War I Aeroplanes No. 194: 4. 
  3. ^ Lichfield, John (8 January 2010). "Double-hyphen surname law gets both barrels". The Independent. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  4. ^ A Short History of the Civil Code, Government of Quebec
  5. ^ Section 51 of the Civil Code of Quebec, in LexUM
  6. ^ a b c d Kirchner, Stephanie (6 May 2009). "German Court Upholds Ban on Extra-Long Names". Time.,8599,1896443,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  7. ^ Name game: most Chinese use 3 characters, some use 10 or more, Xinhua, 2007-12-12.


  • Burke's Family Index
  • Burke's Landed Gentry (various editions)
  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage (various editions)

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