How do you reconcile Surnames?

+6 votes
160 views
I am new to WikiTree and cannot quite get my head around different spellings of surnames. IE: I have ancestors with the surname of Noddle, However there are a couple of others listed as Noddles who may or may not be the the same people. Is there a procedure for this. I do apologise in advance if this is confusing.
in Genealogy Help by Paul Smith G2G1 (1.2k points)
Spelling was frequently rather fluid. Sometimes it was the person who used the different spellings (sometimes even in the same document).  Other times it was because the person was not literate, and so depended on the clerk to write down what they heard -- and even those clerks could be fluid with the way they spelt things. (This fluidity sometimes extended into the 20th century.)

Then there are those who decided to change the way their name was spelt, changing from the way their parents spelt things.

Sometimes- if it is a census return you're looking at - it was the enumerator who sometimes wrote down whatever they felt like at the time.

Sometimes - if you're not looking an original document - it is the transcriber writing what they think they decipher.

Names alone aren't always (and shouldn't be) the way to be sure the person is the same one, and is the one you're looking for.
Thank you for your prompt reply to my query.
Even "simple" surnames such as my own can be mis-rendered, ending upas Paull, or Pawl.  If you know other family names it is easier to track and easier to see if this particular person in the 1861 census is the same person as 10 years earlier in the 1851 census (for example).

It can also depend on where your family was from, what their occupation was, and how much they were likely to have moved around.

If you have more information on your Noddle, that matches up with the Noddles, you can always post what you have and ask for help in verifying they are the same person/family.  There are an awful lot of helpful -  and experienced - Wikitreers who would be happy to help you.

Thank You . smiley

3 Answers

+8 votes
Mis spellings are common amongst the many records we can review. It ends up being the best guess that the manager can ferret out. When name spellings change, it can be purposeful and that makes it easy to follow the rules of lnab “last name at birth” and lnad “last name at death”. Lnab is used for the official last name. Lnad is used as the current last name. Any other variants are mentioned in other last names. I will often use lnad as the name on the headstone but even that can be debated if the engraving is clearly done wrong.

The harder case occurs when the people involved don’t know how to read or write.  Then you have to try and figure out how the transition occurred and use your best judgement in filling in the data.
by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (198k points)

Thank you for the answer it has helped a lot. yes

+4 votes
Thanks Paul for asking this question and Gurney for your answer. I am currently dealing with Kissel, Kiesel, Kissell and Grube, Grub and Grubb. I totally forgot about the “lnab” and “lnad” concept and all variations in between. Now, I can put some logical order to them and document the variations in the Research Notes section.
by Tommy Buch G2G6 Pilot (313k points)
Yea the answer was most helpful and gave me the insight I needed. Thank you gurney.
+5 votes
and to add to the previous answers - sometimes the transcriber has it wrong!

My crowd of Pindar /Pinder is mostly down to mood on the day (as far as I can see), but the Keywoods are often mis-transcribed as Heywood. It is helpful to see the original to see what might actually be on the document.
by Frances McCarthy G2G6 Mach 1 (11.8k points)
Yep. It is sometimes hard for the OCR software to make out certain characters based on the ink coverage on the page or the way the person wrote the letter.

I often get search results that is not correct because of this.

“H” and “K” is one set of characters that is often mistranslated.

I always check the original if it is available, It is surprising how many mistakes are found, but hey it all adds to the fun.smiley

It's not just the OCR that gets it wrong at times.  Plenty human-transcribed records have very clear errors.

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