You're right, that's a crappy article and I'm sure ADT wouldn't have posted it if she'd read it through. It's not up to Wikipedia's normal standards.
There isn't much information available on the use of middle names. They don't show up in official documents, diaries, etc, anywhere near as often as first and last names so it's hard to gain a picture of what their usage was like.
Essentially, middle names were developed so that the parents' name could be passed down, or a common first name used, while still allowing the child to be distinguished. Thus, in a society where half of the boys would be named John, you could distinguish your own John by naming him John Thomas instead. Or, you could pass on your own name, Mary, but your daughter Mary Elizabeth would have a different name to go by.
I found this on www.firmament.com
"Middle names weren't used until the 15th Century when a second "first" name was used as a status symbol by German nobility. Many years passed before this practice became widespread, and in the United States, did not become popular until after the Revolutionary War, when the fashion was to use the mother's maiden name."
However, it's not referenced so I can't be sure where the information has been drawn from. Unfortunately, that exact same paragraph appears on about half a dozen other sites, which makes me think that they have all copied from each other or from some original printed source.
I think that all one can really say - without actually going to the *library* and doing some *research*, is that middle names in English-speaking countries have become common sometime in the last 500 years, and that they originated for distinction and honouring purposes.
♦ Chrisell ♦
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. - J.R.R. Tolkien.