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Expertise in Indian names anyone?

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Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 4:30 pm

I have, as usual, become side-tracked, and am trying to understand the background of the wife of a WW1 British Army captain.

In May 1913, Edith Roya, a widow, married Ezra Manning in Cheshire. I am 99% certain from various immigration / passenger records that she arrives in the US in 1904 with her then husband and two children. The children are fine - Frank and Gertrude. It's his name that is the problem as it shifts around each time I see it in US records, and I'd really like to get it "right":
  • Nagurdro Mohon Roya in 1904;
  • Nagendro Roya in 1905 (when it says that he's born in India);
  • Nogendro (possibly Nogendra) Roya in 1916 - info on his son's marriage cert.;
  • Najendro Roya in 1920 - info on his son's passport application;
Even more confusing is that Edith appears to assume his name after his apparent death, being Nagendro Roya, Negendro M Roya and Nagendro M Roya in the 1910/11/12 Directories of Atlantic City, NJ - as she is a palmist on the Boardwalk in the last case, I suspect she's actually billing herself as Madame Nagendro M Roya on the basis that it sounds better and the holiday makers in "Noo Joisey" wouldn't know the difference.

So - is anyone sufficiently expert in Indian names to tell me what the "proper" form of his name might actually be? Or tell me that there's no such thing, it being like the umpteen forms of Shakespeare's signature?
Adrian
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby MoVidger » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:47 pm

Hi Adrian - no doubt you've already seen the 1910 census, which finds widowed Edith and Gertrude lodging in Atlantic City. Their place of birth is listed as "India, Bengalese". And interestingly, in the "Color or Race" column is "OT" (other) -- which leads us to the Enumerator's race notation on the far left of the census schedule for both ladies: "Hindoo" (sic).

For the 1910 census, enumerators were instructed to notate race on the left whenever OT was used.
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:47 pm

Thanks Mo - yes, I had seen the 1910 census for mother and daughter. And thank you also for restoring my faith in the US Census (though not in Ancestry! :evil: )

The race column, as you say, is "OT". The Ancestry image will pop-up the transcribed value if you hover over it with your cursor (e.g. because you can't read it) - in this case it pops up "Octoroon"!! For anyone not certain of this, someone with one black grandparent and three white used to be classed as "quadroon", while someone with one black great-grandparent and the rest white was "octoroon". Since "OT" looks like an abbreviation for "octoroon", I hadn't queried Ancestry's interpretation - but what I had realised, looking at the instructions was that "octoroon" was not a valid race in the 1910 census. So, at first glance, this was a census enumerator who had taken upon themselves to use a term that was not meant to be used, and one which describes a pernicious, pedantic view of race. But not so... Ancestry on the other hand can't interpret that one for toffee! (Somewhere, either on this family or another, there's also an Ancestry interpretation of "Indian" as "Indian (Native American)"!!!! No, Ancestry, you're not being polite by rephrasing Indian to its correct equivalent!)

Frank Roya, I'm pretty much convinced, is in the 1910 in Monroe, New Jersey, at what appears to be a "naughty boys' home" but recorded as "Frank Roy". His father is down as East Indian and his mother English.
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby MoVidger » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:58 pm

This family isn't very consistent with birth places. :? In the 1905 census, Frank's is listed as Malta; yet on his passport application, he states it's "South Brighton, England". On the latter, he also states his father's birthplace was "United States [New York City]". Hmm (scratching head)

Later, on his 1942 WWII Registration Draft Card, Frank states his own birthplace as New York City.

Adrian - how on earth do you cope with all the various birthplaces, etc? :lol: Have you found birth/baptism records for Frank and Gertrude? I'd be very interested to learn their actual origins.
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:02 pm

MoVidger wrote:... Have you found birth/baptism records for Frank and Gertrude? I'd be very interested to learn their actual origins.

So would I! There's nothing in FreeBMD to back up the claim that they were born in England. I've looked at "Roya" and "Roy" as names there. So far, even with merging data, I've got 3 separate birth events in my database for Frank!

When Frank applies for a passport in 1920(?), there is background on his birth: that his father was a US citizen and his paternal grandfather died in the Civil War. I doubt I believe a word of it!!! :) It's all quite contradicted by the earlier records showing Frank and his father to be aliens - even his birth date (which is exact and which he does stick to in later life) is contradicted by his age in those earlier records. And if you're claiming US Citizenship by birth, it just seems a little too much to claim to be born on the Fourth of July! ;)
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby MoVidger » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:36 pm

This family appear to have engaged in various flights of fancy, making it very challenging for you to uncover their actual origins. If the father was indeed from Bengal (where his wife and daughter claim to be from by the 1910 census), I do wonder if his surname was Roy (the more common Bengal surname, and not Roya).

I find it interesting that the father's occupation in 1905 is "Language Teacher". Then in 1910, his widow Edith's occupation is "Teacher of Religion". I'm always a bit skeptical with occupations like these. ;)

Not that this will help any, but on my Dad's side I have a family who were Victorian-era music hall and vaudeville performers. The adult children of one of the theatrical son's always used their father's stage name after they settled in the U.S. Good grief. Fortunately for me, their theatrical father used his legal name when registering the births for all four sons in England.

Speaking of vaudeville, I see Gertrude (now Simon) is now a "dancer" in the 1940 census. Her birthplace is again Malta, although she did say it was "America" when she married Alfred Simon in 1911. No disrespect, but I think a female dancer of age 46 would be considered a bit long in the tooth on the vaudeville circuit. ;) For her 1911 marriage, her name is listed as Gertrude S. J. Roya.
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:18 pm

MoVidger wrote:... If the father was indeed from Bengal (where his wife and daughter claim to be from by the 1910 census), I do wonder if his surname was Roy (the more common Bengal surname, and not Roya). ...

Now that's interesting, thanks, and was just the sort of useful suggestion I was hoping for (don't worry, I'll take it as an informed speculation). But... There is an 1897 marriage of a Nagendro Mohon Roy in the English GRO records and an 1898 baptism of an adult Nagendra Mohon Roy at Poplar St Matthias, Tower Hamlets - no parents' name on that one, but I'm getting itchy fingers about that marriage. Except the possible spouses bear no relation to anyone called Edith. But why should they? :?

MoVidger wrote:... Speaking of vaudeville, I see Gertrude (now Simon) is now a "dancer" in the 1940 census. Her birthplace is again Malta, although she did say it was "America" when she married Alfred Simon in 1911. ...

Ah - I'd not reached that far - thanks. Malta again, eh? In the middle of fables and fantasies, surely some things must be inspired by reality? Maybe?? (And, as far as I understand things, anyone born in Malta would be a British "citizen").

Edit - the baptism is Nagendra Mohon Roy, not Motion. Ancestry's mis-read - understandable as there is a dot over what isn't an "i".
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:54 am

Okay, as I didn't get anywhere with my routine family research today (one of those non "Eureka" days), I'll wager this suggestion for the Roya/Roy family:

If it turns out your chap is the adult baptised in 1898 in Tower Hamlets, he probably isn't the father of Frank or Gertrude. For his 1897 marriage, the spouse has to be Milja Karikko (which sounds like a Finnish name).

I wonder if Edith, their mother, was married to a fellow in the British Army during the 1890s? That might explain Gertrude's repeated birthplace of Malta. (I'm fascinated with the Malta aspect, due to the fact my granny lived there with her soldier husband prior to WWI).

Also, have a close look at Frank's photo on his passport application. I'd be rather surprised if it turned out Mr Roya/Roy was his biological father.
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:44 pm

MoVidger wrote: ... Also, have a close look at Frank's photo on his passport application. I'd be rather surprised if it turned out Mr Roya/Roy was his biological father.

Mmm. Possibly. But I've seen too many mixed-race people who looked well within the range of a "white" Briton to be comfortable with that view. Add to that, Ancestry's tendency to use contrast in images that lightens many tones.... On the other hand, I have to say that possibility did occur to me. Until recently, I'd dismissed it because of Ancestry's incorrect rendition of "OT" (for "Other race") as Octoroon - that would (logically) suggest Frank was only 1/8th Indian - easily lost in the visuals.

But what was disturbing me, about Mr Roy(a) being Frank's father, was the name - if Frank were 1/8th Indian, then Mr Roy(a) was at most 1/4 Indian - but he's kept the Indian name, or even reverted to one, suggesting a commitment to Indian naming. In which case, why on earth call your children Frank and Gertrude????

MoVidger wrote:... he probably isn't the father of Frank or Gertrude. ...

That I find a most interesting suggestion! I really hadn't considered it, given that the children get marked up as Indian in several cases. But I do realise now that I hadn't thought much about the family prior to 1904 (except for the births of the 2 children). I knew that the 1897 marriage didn't really fit with Gertrude and Frank, so I was discarding the marriage as relating to another chap of similar name. Maybe I shouldn't....

MoVidger wrote:... I wonder if Edith, their mother, was married to a fellow in the British Army during the 1890s? That might explain Gertrude's repeated birthplace of Malta. ...

Well, that's possible I guess. Or she was born on a troop-ship sailing past... Unfortunately, having got really excited at your suggestion, I can't see any obvious plausible candidates in FindMyPast's UK overseas births - but there's really too many of them to check through without a surname.

So many thanks for those thoughts.... Even if I'm not sure where any data to support those possibilities might come from....
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Re: Expertise in Indian names anyone?

Postby MoVidger » Mon Dec 31, 2018 5:01 pm

Have you seen the ship's 1904 passenger manifest on Ancestry? Mr Roya's nationality is listed as "E. Indian", as are the two children. The words "Anglo Ind" against Gertrude and Frank having been crossed out, and replaced with "E. Indian". Last residence for the family is "London".

Mr Roya's occupation is "Prof of Philosophy". Listed in the 'Whether going to join a relative or friend' column is "Friend: Rev E. P. Southwell, Carmel Priory, 334 E. 29th Street".

A quick Google search revealed a blurb in 'American Architect and Architecture' (circa 1904) which stated "A parish school was to be built at 313 to 322 E. 29th Street. It will be conducted by the monks of the Carmelite Priory at 334 E. 29th Street". This was probably Mr Roya's employer in the 1905 census.
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