Theory: Where Did Titus Come From?

A short article here. Just putting to words a theory that bubbled up while scrolling through some old baptismal records from Ballymore Eustace.

I mentioned in this earlier article that my great-grandaunt, Agnes, called her father “John Titus Keating”. Nowhere else have I seen him referred to as “Titus”. “John Charles Keating” is the name given in all other documents that include a middle name.

My original theory was that this was might be a Catholic Confirmation name. For those not familiar with the Catholic faith, when Catholics confirm their faith (usually as young teenagers), they will often chose a Catholic Saint as their patron saint. Sometimes, they’ll add that Saint’s name to their own. When I was confirmed some forty years ago, I chose Saint Francis of Assisi as my patron, and occasionally will add “Francis” to my name to help differentiate me from my father, who chose a different patron saint. (Some might opine that replacing “Francis” with “Ass.” might be more appropriate in my case, but…) I’m not sure if this was common in the 19th century Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, but perhaps John chose Saint Titus, first century Christian and companion to Saint Paul, as his patron saint at Confirmation.

My new (equally unproven) theory, after scrolling through page after page of old hand-written Latinized baptismal records was that Aunt Agnes had seen a baptismal record (or more likely a transcribed one) and misinterpreted “Filius” as “Titus”. The Latin word “Filius” (meaning “son [of]”) was often written within the baptismal record. For example, William Shakespeare’s baptismal record reads, “Guilielmus filius Johannes Shakspere”. (Poor Mary Arden’s contribution to the affair must have been considered negligible…) After staring for hours at the tortuous handwriting of 18th and 19th century parish priests (exacerbated by the age of the ink and paper), I can easily see how “Filius” could became “Titus”, especially to one unfamiliar with the convention. In most cases, at least within the Ballymore Eustace records, a middle name is never given, so his baptismal record may (I haven’t found it yet!) have been “Joannes Filius Patricio et Maria Keating de Ballymore Eustace”. (Or maybe he was baptized under his middle name, or his father’s middle name, or maybe his mother was actually Catherine? (an article for another day…))

To be continued, commented on, or linked to as I learn more…

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