Fun and games with names

11 December 2016

What made you start researching your family history? (if you have!) Some people have a specific goal/mission/aim whilst others just ‘want to know more about their ancestors’. Personally, I had solid foundations on some ancestral lines and frankly, pretty dodgy beginnings on others. Legends which weren’t quite accurate and information recorded on our family tree which living people knew to be wrong! Never the best start….

I fitted into the ‘wanting to know more about my ancestors’ category. Starting off as a hobby and turning into an obsession, family history is in my blood as my maternal grandfather, his mother and her mother have all shown more than a passing interest in their heritage over the last hundred and odd years.

There are plenty of common surnames in my ancestry – Evans (x 2), Smith, Jones, Oats, Day, Williams and more – but I am also well-versed with some rarer species with Sillifant, Maunder, Hayhurst and Delamore (along with their variations on the theme). The less-common names present many challenges, not least in the spelling and transcription games … there should be an Olympic event, with medals awarded, for this particular sport! The worst transcription of Sillifant I have ever seen is Richard Mifsud in the 1841 census. Whilst the handwriting is difficult to decipher, it is impossible to see how the surname was recorded as Mifsud!

In past blogs, I have referred to Potty, Fartwell and Knob (a great book, still available on Amazon and no, I am not on commission!) which is a book of ‘extraordinary but true names of British people’. The content of this book is truly hilarious! From Minty Badger, Harriet Harmonica, Fanny Greathead, Pat Mycock, Isla White, Ivor Harden and more…. and often, when we are researching, we find some entertaining entries too! Although I wrote about Time Of Day and Time of Night Kenknight some time ago, relatives of theirs have recently located my blog post and commented accordingly, one commenting that the name was something to do with a drunken bet!

Recent finds include Nutsey Houlden, born in Spilsby Registration District (RD) in June quarter 1873 and Balls Baxter, born in Depwade RD in December quarter 1854. Why would you do that to your child? A fantastic transcription error on FindMyPast in the 1911 census creates Nuts Booker, a Danish seaman who was actually called Niels! However, the best name in recent times is Butts Atkins with more middle names than needed with that first name (image clipped from FreeBMD search):

Surname: Atkins Given Name: Butts Adrian A C.T.D.J.A.J.B.V.S

So, Butts….? Are you out there? I’d love to know what all your middle names are!?

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