Names, something we are given at birth, or close to it by our parents and they can be the bane of our lives. Some people change them, as soon as they can. Some have a nick-name and no-one knows their given name. Some take a common name and give it a different spelling. Some change the way it is said. Who remembers Hyacinth Bucket, from the TV show “Keeping Up Appearances,” always telling people that it was pronounced Bouquet?
When doing family tree research, I have discovered that I really needed to think differently about people’s names. We have all come across Baptismal records, where the priest has written the names in Latin, making us reach for a Latin dictionary.
But what of the name Peggy? Is she a Margaret, Marjory or a Margo? On my tree she is a Norma!
Maryann, who became a May Mary.
Andrew Alexander, who was known as Sandy.
Elizabeth who was known as Betty, Beth or Tibby.
Cecilia, who was known as Sissy or Cecily.
Then there are the names that can be both male and female; Kimberley; Evelyn, Terry, Glenn, Gene, Carol, Beverl(e)y, Aubrey and Lynn, just to mention some.
Throw in nicknames and is it any wonder that we get confused and frustrated, when searching for them.
What about the spelling of names? Look at Matthew or Mathew, Lilian or Lillian, Philip or Phillip. I have an Aunt who still insists on spelling my name Lillian not Lilian, which it is.
So next time you find a Gussie, Bert, Glenn or Hooky named, don’t scream, think outside the normal and you might just crack that brick wall.
I also recommend getting hold of a good first name dictionary and a book that lists first name variants. These are the two I have had for years;
Look at your own family. What interesting names do you have?