I’ve come across several old newspaper stories featuring husband and wife fighting over who has the “right” to name the baby.
Because this one from 1897 is in the public domain, I’ll go ahead and give you the whole thing:
The question as to whether the naming of the baby belongs, as a matter of right, to the baby’s father or to the baby’s mother was raised in a queer law suit in Eastkill, in the heart of the Catskill mountains.
The plaintiff is Ole Halverson, a Swede, who cultivates a small farm on the mountain side. He has sued for damages the Rev J. G. Remerton, a German Lutheran minister of the same place, and the pleadings set forth the following state of facts: Mr. and Mrs. Halverson have a son of tender years.
The former desired that the boy should be called Oscar, after the present monarch of Mr. Halverson’s fatherland. Mrs. Halverson dislikes the name Oscar, and was determined that the baby should not be burdened therewith. Mr. and Mrs. Halverson took the baby to the clergyman to be christened.
Mr. Halverson requested the minister to name the child Oscar, but Mrs. Halverson had already talked the reverend gentleman over, and to Mr. Halverson’s surprise and indignation the boy was christened not Oscar, but something else, whereby Mr. Halverson suffered serious disappointment, loss of authority in his household, laceration of feelings, &c., for which he prays damages.
The clergyman’s defense is that he christened the child in accordance with the wishes of its mother, whose rights in the premises he considered paramount.
The case brings up a novel question in jurisprudence, the decision of which will be regarded with interest in thousands of families throughout the land.
I haven’t been able to track down the family, so I don’t have any other details. (I do like that “loss of authority in his household” part, though.)
Who do you think should have the final say when it comes to baby names — moms or dads?
Source: “Naming the Baby.” Reading Eagle 4 Jul. 1897: 2.