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Name change

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Name change

Postby Diaper » Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:34 pm

We recently held a Family History Day at the library I work in and a lady came with a "brick wall" regarding her grandfather. According to what she had been told he was born Thomas Mitchell in 1872 (possibly in Southampton). He married a Frances Selina Edwards (widow) in June 1907 but by the time of the birth of their first child in 1908 he had changed his name completely to Albert Henry Herbert. He appears with that name on the 1911 census living in Southampton and died with that name in 1923. The lady had been told that he had changed his name legally. Does anyone know if there is a register of name changes or how to trace a name change please so I can pass this on to her? Many thanks.
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Re: Name change

Postby carobradford » Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:15 pm

It is perfectly legal to change your name to whatever you like, provided there is no fraudulent intent. If Thomas/Albert felt the need to formalise his name change in some way, the two main routes would have been deed poll or an announcement in a newspaper. If it was the former, then unless he had the deed poll enrolled (very unlikely, because very expensive) there will be no public record.

TNA has a research guide on the subject at:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help ... s-of-name/
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Re: Name change

Postby Sylcec » Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:19 pm

If the name change was done 'legally', then it is likely that it was done by deed poll and entered in the London Gazette. It was not necessary to create a deed poll to change a name and even if one was made, it was apparently not necessary to have the change entered to the Gazette.

However, by way of comparison, I do have two such events in my own family - most recently for my mother who changed her name before my birth, so she would have the same surname as my father, to whom she was not married. More interestingly, in 1914 my paternal grandfather changed his name by deed poll from Schaumburg to Harris - interesting only because he was actually born and lived in India (though undertook some schooling in England). I have the documentation for both these.

So - the deed poll, if created, would be held at TNA, Kew, and the Gazette you can search on line.
Hope that is helpful.
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Re: Name change

Postby carobradford » Thu Nov 24, 2016 10:24 pm

A thought just struck me that "Thomas Mitchell" might have been the new name, not Albert Henry HERBERT. Lo and behold, there is no birth registration under Thomas MITCHELL to match the age and place of birth of Thomas/Albert shown in the 1911 census, but there is one for Albert Henry HERBERT:
Births Dec 1872   
HERBERT Albert Henry
Southampton 2c 14
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Name change

Postby Thos. S. » Fri Nov 25, 2016 4:29 am

I changed my own surname by deed poll and wasn't required to register the change anywhere. I even wrote the deed myself.

You can simply start calling yourself by a new name anytime you wish as long as it's not for fraudulent purposes, the deed poll is only required for more legal things such as changing your driving licence and bank details.


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Re: Name change

Postby carobradford » Fri Nov 25, 2016 11:10 am

Let's have a look at the Albert Henry HERBERT whose birth was registered in Southampton RD in 1872. The enhanced GRO index gives his mother's maiden name as SMITH. An Albert Henry HERBERT was baptised at St Luke, Southampton on 29 December 1872, son of William Henry HERBERT and Eliza. A William Henry HERBERT married an Eliza LYE in Q2 1864 at Holy Trinity Southampton. Her father's name was SMITH. This family can be found in the census both before and after the birth of Albert Henry (mistranscribed - by the enumerator - in 1881 as "Elbert"), but there is no sign of Albert after the 1881 census, apart from a small piece in the Hampshire Advertiser on 22 November 1884 reporting a court case when a boy was charged with stealing a walking stick from another boy, Albert Henry HERBERT, of Burgess Street. Burgess Street is where the HERBERT family, minus Albert, is living in the 1891 census.

It looks to me very much like Albert changed his name to "Thomas Mitchell" then changed it back. But why? What does his marriage certificate tell us?
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Name change

Postby brunes08 » Fri Nov 25, 2016 2:28 pm

All sorts of things happen with names. For example, my 2xgt grandfather, Joseph, was illegitimate. When he was still a child his mother married. All through his life, Joseph used his birth surname or his step- father's surname on different documents and census returns. Very confusing to start with but once I realised what was going on, it was reasonably easy. Still looking for his death though!
I have a gt grandfather who appears to have changed his forenames but not his surname. I cannot find a birth for him in 1845 as indicated by the age on census returns and his death. His name first appears on his marriage certificate in 1868. However, I have a birth certificate and baptismal record for his 'brother' born in 1845 and the 1851 and 1861 census returns. Then he disappears completely. All the records I have seem to indicate they are one and the same person but how to prove it conclusively?
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Re: Name change

Postby meekhcs » Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:07 pm

Diaper

I have sent you a pm but it still looks as though it is stuck in my outbox. Have you received it please?

Regards Sally
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Re: Name change

Postby Diaper » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:33 pm

Many thanks to you all for your helpful replies which I have anonymized and will email to the lady who came to the Family History Day.
My brother and I also found the birth of a Albert Henry Herbert in 1872 in Southampton plus a relevant Family Tree on Ancestry but when I passed on these "finds" to the lady she didn't seem inclined to send off for the birth certificate at all, maintaining that he was definitely born as Thomas Mitchell. I gather that is what has been passed down to her and also the story that Thomas Mitchell happened to be walking round a graveyard and changed his name to the same name as someone whose grave he saw! She did give me a copy of the marriage certificate of Thomas Mitchell (aged 34 years and labourer at Iron Works) to Frances Selina Edwards (a widow aged 35 years) on 18th Jun 1907 at Stroud Register Office. Thomas' father is listed as William Mitchell (deceased) with his profession as a Gardener (domestic).
Hopefully she may have some luck with the London Gazette but said she had already been in touch with TNA but to no avail.
Again many thanks to you all.
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Re: Name change

Postby carobradford » Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:49 am

One of the hardest things one encounters as a family historian, both in ones own family and in assisting and advising others is getting past entrenched "family lore". Sometimes one can prove beyond doubt that a distant ancestor was not, in fact, the son of a princess, or kidnapped by pirates or whatever, but in this case and many others there is little one can do!
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