A for Alias

1 April 2016

Welcome to the A-Z Bloggers Guide to Heir Hunting and Family History! When FWL first started blogging, we wrote every single day. Over the years (many), we have expanded (in various ways!) and subsequently, we normally blog every other day. Until now! It is April 2016 and it is time to blog six days a week. Holy cow! How will we manage!?

We have decided to blog on a topic connected to our work (slightly obvious) and so, herewith our guide …. and A is for alias. Sometimes when we download the Bonavacantia list, the list of alias names for an individual is longer than our collective arms! Aliases are often (but not always) used in cases of illegitimacy, when the parent (more often than not, the mother) marries (or remarries). However, some aliases seem (to the untrained eye) to be completely unrelated to the original name, thus presenting us with a challenge (and a half!). Some are actually, when you dig, deed poll name changes…. oh for a centralised register of those!

Current names featuring on the BV list (with aliases) include: Joyce Brain (alias Joyce Brayne), Edward Brent (alias Edward Angelus Slamatiadhes and born Malta), Christine Winifred Margaret Broadhurst (alias Christine Winifred Margaret Greaves) and Eleanor Brooks (nee Goldie, alias Gwendoline May Afford)…. some are perhaps simple to comprehend (spelling, anglicising and maiden names….), though others may require a little bit more research! Only this week, one case listed required significant research to connect the deceased lady to her birth name, even though her late husband was stated on the BV list along with his death year!

It is interesting to note when carrying out genealogical research how many of our ancestors changed their names with no documentation available to source the alteration. My own ancestor, Whitby William George Baynham decided to change his name in 1900 to John Ford. Why? How? I only wish I knew…. there is no documentary evidence available (to me right now) to ‘legalise’ the name change but it took place between February 1900 and June 1900 when he moved from Islington to Bedford.

How many of your ancestors have disappeared without trace? Maybe they took on an alias? Have you tried searching for their birth year and place and known relatives, without a surname. It worked for me!

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