• Step Five ~ Finding Those Names

    Even in Victorian times many people could not read or write and therefore did not know how their name was spelled. Together with regional accents the vicar or registrar had no alternative but to record the name which they had heard spoken. If you are having difficulty finding a given surname, then think of an alternative spelling or how it would sound spoken in a local accent.

    The online census returns are an excellent resource for family researchers. However to enable them to be searchable they have to be what’s called transcribed. Each sheet of the original handwritten return is recorded onto a computer database by a transcriber and therefore it’s quite understandable that mistakes can be made.

    For tips on how to search the census returns go to the FTF Guide: The Census.

    You can imagine what a mammoth task it must have been compiling all of this information on census night. Very often you will find christian names abbreviated, for example Jas for James or Fredk for Frederick.

    To find more christian name abbreviations go to Common Forename Abbreviations.

    Today we name our children according to our own personal choice. Our ancestors may have followed naming traditions.

    To find out more go to Naming Patterns.

    You must also bear in mind that your ancestors may not be using the name which they were registered with. If they had a first and a second christian name, then they may have been known as their second name. Also they may be recorded under a nickname such as Jack for John or James, or Nancy for Anne, Ann or Hannah.

    For more information about christian names and surnames go to Finding those names.

    If you are looking at very old registers written in Latin, you will find Latin names in Catholic Records useful.