To the best of my knowledge there have been only two studies of naming patterns in the south, one in Prince George’s County, Maryland and one in Middlesex County, Virginia. The results of both studies were very similar, showing that (a) naming patterns changed considerably from the late 17th century to the early 18th century, and (b) that the naming patterns used in the south were nearly the opposite of the widely reported patterns in New England. New Englanders tended to name their eldest children after themselves and later children after their own parents. In the south, that pattern was reversed.
17th century southerners tended to name their eldest sons for paternal grandfathers and their second son for the father. Kulikoff’s study of Prince George’s County, Maryland showed that roughly 80% of all eldest sons were named for one or the other. In the late 17th century, the great majority of eldest sons were named for their fathers. However, the percentage of eldest sons named for their fathers declined steadily over the next hundred years. The percentage of eldest sons named for their fathers declined from about 65% in the late 17th century to about 35% by 1720-40, and to 25% by 1770. Over the same period, the percentage of eldest sons named for grandfathers rose from about 15% to more than 50%.
A similar pattern existed for daughters. Roughly 80% of all eldest daughters were named for either their mother or a grandmother (usually maternal). In the late 17th century, the numbers were about equal - roughly 40% of eldest daughters were named for their maternal grandmothers and another 40% for their mother. But within the next twenty years, by the early 18th century, there were nearly twice as many eldest daughters named for grandmothers as for mothers. That remained consistent throughout the 18th century.
A study of Middlesex County, Virginia reached similar conclusions. For the period 1651-1750, only 11% of first-born sons received their father’s name, but 44% were given their grandfather’s name. [Another 16% had a name which was shared by both ancestors.] For daughters, 15% were named for their mothers and 46% for their grandmothers.
Later children of 18th century families also tended to be named after family members. After using grandparents and parents names, the majority of later children were given names of their aunts and uncles. This is generally thought to have been the result of the agricultural family-centered society of the south. The majority of the southern colonial population were members of relatively large family groups. For those not part of these groups, none of these patterns can be assumed to apply.