Moderator Control Panel ]

Which Name?

A problem shared is a problem halved. Post your brick walls here and see whether you can offer advice to others

Which Name?

Postby Norfolk Nan » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:40 pm

Every now and then I come up against the problem of which family name to follow when a branch of my 19c tree decides to marry and rename the children. Well, which name do you follow? The original birth name as it's a blood connection or the step-name because its what they ended up with even though there's no blood link? Or both, just to confuse matters?

Well, if it's the former where do I go with this little knot - Catherine Riley has a daughter she calls Catherine Riley. Then has two sons and all four call themselves Edwards. The boys are registered as Edwards but dad isn't named. When the daughter marries she calls herself Edwards and says Peter Edwards is her dad. I can't find any record of a marriage between Catherine Riley and Peter Edwards. So, if she has taken the name and given it to her children is it valid? Today I think mum has to use her own surname unless dad is present at registration - or am I wrong? Or should they be called Riley - mum's birth surname? And, as those sons later took on the name of a step-father, and passed it down three generations to the current line, which family name applies? Or maybe it doesn't really matter?
Norfolk Nan
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:13 pm

Re: Which Name?

Postby JaneyH » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:48 pm

In terms of what I record on my tree I use the name registered at birth (or baptism for people born pre-1837) as the preferred / default name. Obviously most women then marry, so I would then list their married name as an alternative. In each case I add the relevant source. With children changing their name because of a step-father etc I would keep their original names as the default and again save the new surname as an alternative.

I guess the most important things are (a) being consistent and (b) adding all the sources.


Sent from my iPad using WDYTYA Forum
User avatar
JaneyH
 
Posts: 584
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 5:35 pm

Re: Which Name?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:46 am

I can see 2 different issues here about surnames.

1. What surname appears on the birth certificate? When the parents were unmarried, then from 18-something on, only the mother's name appears unless both parents were present.

2. What surname did they use in later life? Remember that under UK law you can call yourself what you like, so even if your birth certificate only gives your mother's name, you are entitled to call yourself by your father's surname. (Of course, that then leads into all sorts of problems these days when you are asked to produce a birth certificate as evidence of identity).

Anyway, the point of it all is that you just have to look for clues as to which surname got used, then record that.

Many people will record the birth name as the primary name then also record other names as aliases. If the birth certificate records 2 unmarried parents then the child will be indexed twice in the old GRO indexes in FreeBMD and you can decide which is the primary name and which the alias. I'd follow later census usage if I could, to decide which the primary name is.

Sent from my MotoG3 using Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum mobile app
Adrian
AdrianB38
 
Posts: 2645
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:07 pm

Re: Which Name?

Postby Norfolk Nan » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:42 pm

Thanks both.

I suppose from a research point of view you are obliged to follow the trail, not question the ethics of name using but it fascinate me. In the process of looking for one of this clan I found some court records for someone of the same name who was known to use at least eight different surnames and five first names in any number of combinations! I can't say this is or isn't my chap (I like to think evidence suggests not) but how will I ever know? As anyone who has followed the wrong line several times and had to backtrack to find the right lot knows, finding the right ancestors becomes a necessity but with all this ease of shrugging on and off of names how will I ever know I'm on the right track?
Norfolk Nan
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:13 pm

Re: Which Name?

Postby AntonyM » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:48 am

Norfolk Nan wrote: Today I think mum has to use her own surname unless dad is present at registration - or am I wrong? Or should they be called Riley - mum's birth surname? And, as those sons later took on the name of a step-father, and passed it down three generations to the current line, which family name applies? Or maybe it doesn't really matter?


Birth registers (in England/Wales) don't show any surname at all for the child before 1969, they only record the surnames of the parent(s). By convention a child of a marriage would almost certainly use the father's surname, but if not then the surname a child was brought up using would be entirely a decision for the parent(s) and could change for numerous reasons during their life.

All you can do is research the facts of the relationships and the records that were created by your ancestors and don't worry about lines where names change, but record them as interesting information within the family tree.

(modern birth registers do require a surname to be shown for the child, but it doesn't have to match either parent's name and can be entirely invented if they wish).
AntonyM
 
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:12 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire

Re: Which Name?

Postby Norfolk Nan » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:48 pm

Yes, that's all we can do but I guess its always been the case that the further back, the fewer links to 'prove' a connection. Surnames used to be the thing that linked everyone together with any certainty but I'm understanding how tenuous that 'certainty' really is. It makes family history - and the study of human nature - such an interesting challenge :lol:
Norfolk Nan
 
Posts: 61
Joined: Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:13 pm


Return to General research queries


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest