Madness Monday Changing First and Last Name

June 28, 2010 · Filed Under Family History 


When most ladies marry they change their last name to their husband’s last name, which makes tracing their family records fairly easy. But what happens when a daughter changes her first name (not officially) after birth and uses that name on documents?

Don’t get me wrong, I think naming a daughter or a son after their parent’s or grand parent’s first name is a great tradition, but on more than one occasion it has caused me problems.

I know, I know, it might have been easier to change their first name so you know when someone is talking about Sarah Thompson the mother not Sarah Thompson the daughter but it makes it hard when they use the changed name on official occasions and it bears only a little resemblance to the original name.

The last time it happened was just recently when I started searching for the children of my great great great great grand parents John Thompson (born Thomson but that’s another post) and Sarah Ramm.

I was lucky enough to find a collection of scanned images online and within an hour, I had the birth records of all 9 children including a daughter Sarah Ann Thompson.

OK, time to look for marriage and other records for these children. All went well at first, finding most of the records for the sons, but when it came to Sarah Thompson, I could not find a trace.

Looking back through the records, I came across a marriage for a Mary Ann Thompson to a Samuel Starling. I knew we had a Starling in our tree (sorry couldn’t resist it) but as I already had one son married to a Starling, I thought that might be the connection.

Unfortunately the marriage record did not give an age, so I could not work it out from that but the year of marriage and location seemed right. The death record had Mary Ann Thompson’s age at death, which matched Sarah’s birth year.

Was this Sarah Ann Thompson?

Apparently it was! A distant cousin who saw my family tree on got in contact with me and during a wonderful three hour talk on the phone, I was told Mary Ann Thompson was the Sarah Thompson I was looking for.

Thanks Cousin Lyn



One Response to “Madness Monday Changing First and Last Name”

  1. jj-momscashblog on July 2nd, 2010 3:24 am

    Such interesting facts. Isn’t it like stepping back way back in time and makes you think what life was like back then. I’m sure that name changing and I’ve also heard like at Ellis Island if they didn’t know how to spell a name someone would take a guess at it. I’ve also heard that some letters were dropped at the end of some names. It must make it very hard to locate or a lot of investigation. Sounds like fun btw. jj


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