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Postby Lozzylou » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:57 pm

My father is listed on his marriage and death certificates as Hart (formerly) Honest. His birth certificate is Honest. Someone in adoption records office told me this means that he was commonly known as Hart but was not adopted and did not legally change his name. Has anyone come across this before? The children were born and registered as Hart. Does that mean that legally they are Honest? Really confused.
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Re: Formerly

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Nov 23, 2018 12:06 am

Not sure what an adoption would look like on marriage and death certificates except that my impression was that seeing the previous name is unusual.

However, I can say that, with respect to his children, no, they are not "legally Honest" because there is no such thing in England as a legal name. You can call yourself whatever you want - so long as there is no attempt to defraud anyone. If it says Hart on their BCs, then that's what people will expect them to be called - their father's naming history doesn't matter. Equally one of them could decide to become an Honest, if they wanted to. The problem that they would have, is the same problem that anyone has when they change their name. How do you show that's who you are and that you're not trying to write a cheque on someone else's bank account? That's why there are things like Deed Polls to record such changes in an officially recognised manner. They're not actually mandatory - they just make things a lot easier.

Questions like - "Am I really a XXX and not a YYY?" can be fun if the 2nd name is way back in the past but they are actually meaningless. You're who you say you are - and in the absence of anything else, it's easier if your name matches your birth certificate.

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Re: Formerly

Postby Mick Loney » Fri Nov 23, 2018 6:20 am

I’d agree with Adrian except is does matter when it comes to genealogy. In your fathers case, the Hart line effectively started with him. It would be fruitless pursuing this line back as Hart, when you know that his parents and grandparents etc were Honest!

I have similar situations with some recent illegitimate ancestors, who changed their name to that of their step-father, when their mothers married. In these cases I can’t pursue their father’s line, as I don’t know who he is!

It is more common than you think, and spotting it can be quite dificult. Not every child in a census household is necessarily the offspring of the head and his wife, despite the fact they were called sons and daughters!
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Re: Formerly

Postby phsvm » Fri Nov 23, 2018 8:55 am

A slightly different tact but still relating to names and what an individual is 'known as' as opposed to who certificates say they are.

A friend's birth was registered as Reginald David XYZ. Reginald is a family name but he has always been known as David. He hates the name Reginald with a passion and very few people know it's actually the name on his birth certificate.

He recently booked a flight and on arrival at the check in was turned away because he'd booked the ticket as David XYZ but his passport showed he was Reginald David XYZ. He was turned away and no matter how much he argued with them the check in staff were adamant. Now, David is not known for his understanding and can be very pedantic - weeks later he was still furious about this maintaining that he has "always been David XYZ" and had "never been called Reginald" (or course he actually meant never "known as") . My trying to explain that his passport had to match his birth certificate and therefore tickets had to show his registered first name fell on stony ground.

The moral of this tale? However much you dislike the name on your birth certificate, unless you change your name by deed poll, there are certain times when you can't get away from the name you were registered with.
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Re: Formerly

Postby AntonyM » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:31 am

From a registration angle, the use of the word "formerly" in this way indicates a name the person has "previously used or been known by". It isn't adoption related, just a simple name change, which as already mentioned could have been for all sorts of reasons.

If they were still using both surnames at the time of the event the term used should be "otherwise".

phsvm wrote: My trying to explain that his passport had to match his birth certificate and therefore tickets had to show his registered first name fell on stony ground.

Tickets have to match the name on the passport - but the name on your passport does not have to exactly match the one on your birth certificate - if you speak to the passport office they will explain what evidence & supporting documents can be sent to show the unwanted first name isn't used ( and it doesn't have to be a deed poll).
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