Upon asking about the Spanish equivalences of Senior, Junior and III, I got to know that these are commonly used in United States, but not that much in Britain. Talking about the United Kingdom, a user said:

(...) I suspect that since we do not have a common solution parents avoid the situation, We did have prime ministers called Pitt the elder and Pitt the younger but that is not a current usage as far as I know.

And in fact, Wikipedia on suffix names states that:

In the United States the most common name suffixes are senior and junior, which are written with a capital first letter ("Jr." and "Sr.") with or without an interceding comma. In Britain these are more rare, but when they are used the abbreviations are "Jnr" and "Snr", respectively.

So I wonder: how typical is to have the suffix name Senior, Junior or III in Britain? Is there a prevalence of it in any time in history?

  • 1
    Monarchs have been using regnal numbers from Saxon England to the present day. Lesser mortals tend not to aggrandise themselves in that way, probably precisely because of the monarchy.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 3, 2017 at 19:41
  • 4
    When I was at school, three Smith siblings of various ages were called 'Smith major', 'Smith minor' and 'Smith minimus'. Wonderful stuff!
    – BillJ
    Jan 3, 2017 at 19:51
  • 2
    @BillJ At my school we had Elliot major, Elliot minor, and Elliot tertius. The second and third were twins in my form, one twenty minutes older than the other - and that was how the younger became tertius. It was, to begin with mooted that he be minimus, but tertius was eventually settled upon. Are you aware that Boris Johnson, who was two years older than DC at Eton,was known to have referred to our former PM as "Cameron minor".
    – WS2
    Jan 3, 2017 at 20:05
  • I believe that one reason these are less common in Britain, is that it is less usual for a son to be given exactly the same set of Christian names as his father, than it is in America. Hence the need for Franklin Delano Roosevelt Snr; Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jnr, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt III.
    – WS2
    Jan 3, 2017 at 20:17
  • The only Junior I knew used it in place of the given name he shared with his father, rather than as a suffix. As even his (junior school) teachers used it, I didn't even know his real given name for several years. This was in London.
    – Chris H
    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:31

4 Answers 4


Well, despite it being difficult to provide evidence for a negative assertion, someone should answer: no, these terms are almost never encountered in Britain.

For example, in a life teaching in a British university I never had contact with a single student who was a Junior, Senior or designated by a Roman numeral. Nor with anyone else.

  • They are "almost unknown" in the sense that they are rarely used but not "almost unknown" in the sense that people will be unfamiliar with the concept: a lot of things are rarely encountered but still understood.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 5, 2023 at 12:50
  • @StuartF — ok. I have changed the wording.
    – David
    Dec 5, 2023 at 20:12

It is very rare in Britain for children to have exactly the same name as one of their parents.

Occasionally when there are multiple siblings in a single institution (i.e. a school), they might be designated 'major', 'minor', etc. to avoid confusion. However, it is an old-fashioned convention, with only public schools carrying on the tradition.

Outside of these institutions the designations are not used, mainly because children are usually referred to by their first names rather than their surnames.

(Note, in Britain the term "public school" refers, a little confusingly, to an older and more prestigious sub-category of private school. "State school" is broadly equivalent to what the US term "public school".)

Furthermore, in Britain, and in many if not all European nations, it could be regarded as a pretension to style oneself "so-and-so IV", even if only informally. Post-nominal numerals are generally the domain of royal and/or ancient houses and institutions (e.g. Queen Elizabeth II, 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury, Pope Benedict XVI, etc.).

The US never had an aristocracy and so the same consideration would not apply - or at least not to the same degree.


Historically firstborn boys were very often named after their father and firstborn girls after their mother. My family tree has four successive Williams in the 19th century, and the practice was widespread before then. 18th century parish records might show "John son of John Price jnr was born", or even "John son of John Price jnr. (cooper) died"; possibly there were three John Price jnr's.

I'd guess these usages were only on documents where the identification might matter at some point in the future; in normal speech you'd just say "John" or "tall John" or whatever your audience would recognize.

I believe English law doesn't have the concept of a "legal name". You can choose to be called whatever you like; authors may adopt several pen-names, entertainers have to adopt a unique stage-name. You can change your name by "deed poll", but I think that's merely a formal announcement of your decision. Should you appear in court, you might be asked "And are you normally known as Jack the Ripper?".

  • 1
    Please note that this site is concerned strictly with matters of language, not with customs or law. You might consider editing your post into a relevant answer.
    – fev
    Jan 3, 2021 at 14:43

Sen and Jun are often used in parish burial records. I transcribe English BMD parish records and in the 1705-1782 Norfolk Burial records both are quite regularly used. Also it is very common for a son or daughter in England to be given the same forename as their father or mother. I have the same forename as my father.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.