The hereditary name custom is a regional, especially on the left bank of the Rhine, traditional convention for the hierarchy in which the surnames or first names of the ancestors are passed on to the following generations in a family.
According to the inheritance custom, the children of a family are named in the following or similar order:
The 1st son receives the (first) name of the paternal grandfather.
The 2nd son receives the (first) name of the maternal grandfather.
The first daughter receives the (first) name of the maternal grandmother.
The second daughter receives the (first) name of the paternal grandmother.
Such strict rules were not imposed in Upper Austria and southern Bavaria. Nevertheless it can be observed that a guiding name in some families, i.e. a name which had a higher probability to occur was sometimes available, sometimes based on grandfather’s name, sometimes based on a local saint. Also it was usual that children got the name of their godfather/-mother. Later, this custom changed slowly and the first son born was named like his father or any german hero.