Some families used a "naming convention" or pattern to name their children. There are several of these "conventions", only one of which I have. If you have one that's different, please submit it so we can all share.
These naming patterns can be very useful to the researcher. For example, if you're stuck on your earliest known ancestor, look at the children and grandchildren to see if the family seems to be using a pattern. If they are, then they probably learned it from their elders.
Using the table below, in the reverse order, you can "guess" at the next earlier generation. For example, if the 3rd son is named "John", then his father may have also been John. And if the first son was "Richard", that was probably the paternal grandfather's name. You can then narrow your search for a Richard, who's son John had sons 1-Richard and 3-John. Sometimes it works -- sometimes it doesn't -- but it's worth a try when you've run out of ideas and got no place else to go. ENJOY!
[Credit to Barbara Taylor on Prodigy]