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County Names - Historic Or Modern?

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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby Amazinggrace » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:03 pm

Yes,as Adrian has said Scotland is also tricky.
I was born in Midlothian, it is now West Lothian.Must say though that
I always put West Lothian into Scotlands people and have had no problems.
Grace :D
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby junkers » Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:47 pm

I think Scotland's People probably are using the current names of counties, the Lothians have had quite a lot of transfers of parishes between the Lothians, as I understand it. Locations can be difficult when like me you have ancestors in Falkirkshire and Elginshire and you see references to Haddingtonshire. Having said that Scotland has some inconsistent spellings of counties, Inverness-shire not Invernesshire, Dumfriesshire not Dumfries-shire and Glasgow was in Lanarkshire not Lancashire!, nor in Renfrewshire, and Midlothian not Mid-Lothian as in The National Archives catalogue. By contrast England has it easy for counties. I won't say anything about Wales and their county names, difficult outside Glamorganshire.
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:24 pm

Robbie - I only tend to start looking things up on maps if I want a fuller picture of someone's life, when I'm interested in whether they lived next to the gasworks, rather than the precise Urban District they lived in. Generally I'll just copy what's on the certificate but I can ignore the words there if there's a good reason for it.

If I recall correctly, I have my Nana's birthplace down in my files as Crewe. However, her birth certificate says Monks Coppenhall. That's an instance of the Registrar using different, official names for places compared to what people called the place in real life. If I'd used the official name, no-one would have understood. (I do write down somewhere just why the names differ)

So don't sweat just where boundaries are - you'll be lucky to find maps with that precise of a depiction. Names change and locals may understand them differently from officials.

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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby Robbie J N » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:25 pm

With regard to Scottish counties, hopefully some of you have more knowledge of them than me, which of these would be correct for the names (hopefully all):
County of Ayr - Ayrshire
County of Wigtown - Wigtownshire
County of Dumfries - Dumfriesshire
County of Kirkcudbright - Kirkcudbrightshire

The south west counties of Scotland are where my ancestors lived and all documents I have obtained from Scotland's People omit the 'shire' part of the name.
My most recent ancestor from the region was born in 1915, and another died in 1967, both say Ayr rather than Ayrshire on the certificates.
Also, some great-aunties and uncles were married in the 'Burgh of Glasgow', in the 1920s-30s (specifically 'District of Blythswood'). Was that a special area due to the size of Glasgow, as I noticed that those records have the name stamped, rather than handwritten, compared to the still handwritten place names in Ayr in the 1930s-40s?
I have not got any official records from Kirkcudbrightshire, as those siblings of my ancestors were born in the 1830s-40s before the year (1855) Scotland's People have official records starting. Knowledge of those individuals is based on baptism and census records that match up, viewed on Ancestry, which do not have the 'shire' part in the place name.


Thanks again to everyone who has helped to clarify the complicated nature of the county names over the last few centuries.
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:00 pm

Robbie J N wrote:... the 'Burgh of Glasgow', in the 1920s-30s (specifically 'District of Blythswood'). Was that a special area due to the size of Glasgow, as I noticed that those records have the name stamped, rather than handwritten, compared to the still handwritten place names in Ayr in the 1930s-40s? ...

From possibly fallible memory (because ScotlandsPeople is down for maintenance for a couple of days right now)...
"Burgh" is simply Scots for "Borough". The GRO for Scotland divided Scotland between a number of the larger Burghs and the non-burgh remainders of the counties. My ancestral home of Dundee was a Burgh and when you go to ScotlandsPeople, my ancestors will be found under (the Burgh of) Dundee, rather than Angus / Forfarshire. The county will therefore, for registration purposes, be the county on the map minus the Burgh of Dundee (I don't think there were any other burghs split out in that county for registration but there might have been). No doubt the divisions changed over the years.

No doubt some enterprising registrars would order rubber stamps contaning the sort of information that might be found on all certificates - given the standard of hand-writing on some of these GRO(S) certificates, that can only help.
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby Robbie J N » Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:52 am

Thanks again Adrian.
I had figured that Burgh and Borough were (roughly) the same thing, but obviously used in a different way to the London boroughs I am more familiar with. Thanks for the clarification of their Scottish meaning. So therefore Glasgow was treated a bit like somewhere similar to Bristol, or even the City of London, a city in of itself, registered separately from its surrounding county, some of the time.

The slight problem I have with Scotland's People, as someone not too familiar with all the counties of Scotland, is if you enter a place name, in the drop-down menu options, the county it is in does not show up in the search results. If you want to then search in just that county for subsequent results, you have to look up on a map to see where the town is. Or you can type in the place name on Ancestry and the county comes up as an option, which is a bit easier. That option helped me when tracking down a great-uncle who moved to Kirkintilloch, which I eventually found out was in Dunbartonshire. Apologies for my lack of knowledge regarding Scottish geography!



Going back to my original post, the county names I use when creating a simple tree that does not go into specifics, just years of birth, marriage and death, are just to show the general movements of my ancestors throughout the British Isles during their lifetimes. More detailed mini-biographies, which I know many people do, contain specific addresses and precise dates for all events and census years, but seem a bit too detailed for a simple family tree. I do have notes on the specifics, but sometimes an information overload is not required. The relatives I distribute the trees to, do not need to know that much detail, but if they do want to know, then I can look at my more detailed notes and pass it on to them. I am just trying to find a consistent style to help other family members learn about their ancestors. Hence why I asked other users of this site for their tips and methods with the titles of the county names that are more variable throughout the years. Thanks again.
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby Mick Loney » Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:34 pm

One thing not mentioned (unless I missed it) is the use of London, Surrey, Kent etc when searching. The likes of Ancestry, FMP etc tend to use whatever term was current when records were created.
e.g. Lambeth census records may be found in either Surrey or London, (but not both) depending on the census year. Use the wrong one and you’ll get no results. Very frustrating sometime when the family has remained fairly static, and whilst Lambeth, Surrey worked for certain years, you then find you need to change it to Lambeth, London for the rest.
I use Family Historian to record my research, and as long as I can place a marker on the current (modern) map, I can see how the individual moved around. To me, apart from using correct terms when searching (see above), I’m not too fussed whether Warrington was in Cheshire or Lancashire at the time, as it doesn’t change its actual location on the map :D
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:50 pm

Mick Loney wrote:One thing not mentioned (unless I missed it) is the use of London, Surrey, Kent etc when searching. The likes of Ancestry, FMP etc tend to use whatever term was current when records were created. ...

That's a good point. I guess we'd all complain if Ancestry deliberately recoded the census. Trouble is, of course, especially to us poor Northerners, it gets a bit tricky trying to know what we should be searching on. I usually end up searching both London and Middlesex and checking samples to see if the detailed places are what I want.

Here, http://www.histpop.org/ohpr/servlet/PageBrowser?path=Browse/Census%20(by%20date)/1851/Great%20Britain&active=yes&mno=27&tocstate=expandnew&tocseq=19700&display=sections&display=tables&display=pagetitles&pageseq=first-nonblank by the way is the (lengthy) URL for the map of London according to the Registrar General for the 1851 census. Great swathes labelled Middlesex, Surrey and Kent inside "London".

The page mentions "London weekly tables of mortality" - these are mentioned on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bills_of_mortality and list places in "London" but outside the City of London right back to the 1500s - though it's not clear which places were added when.
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby Mick Loney » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:34 pm

AdrianB38 wrote: Trouble is, of course, especially to us poor Northerners, it gets a bit tricky trying to know what we should be searching on.

Adrian, it is not just a Northern problem, us Southerners suffer just as much, perhaps even more, as we have grown up using Middlesex and Surrey, even though they may not officially be correct. Habits are hard to break :D
To us, London north of the Thames is still Middlesex, and south is Surrey or Kent!
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Re: County Names - Historic Or Modern?

Postby junkers » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:52 pm

Mick Loney wrote:
AdrianB38 wrote: Trouble is, of course, especially to us poor Northerners, it gets a bit tricky trying to know what we should be searching on.

Adrian, it is not just a Northern problem, us Southerners suffer just as much, perhaps even more, as we have grown up using Middlesex and Surrey, even though they may not officially be correct. Habits are hard to break :D
To us, London north of the Thames is still Middlesex, and south is Surrey or Kent!


Parts of Middlesex (like Twickenham) are south of the River Thames but according to our train service is in Surrey. To us 'Southerners' trying to work out places like Tyne and Wear is difficult at times.
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