How To Address Use Of An Alias Name In Your Tree

+4 votes
Over the last two months I have had the interesting experience of 'internet' meeting distant relatives in Tasmania, Australia, and England, because we all a common ancestor, Mary Connor-Polkey (Harrison).  The profile I have created for her is Connor-3055, which you will need to read to get the full 'jist' for my G2G question.

Mary Connor, was deported/exiled from Ireland to the women's penal colony in Tasmania, Australia for stealing in 1848-49.  There she met and married James Polkey, who had lived through the same deportation/exile from his native England, for the same reason, about a decade earlier. John and Mary (Connor) Polkey had a good marriage, and eight children.

Roughly 20 years after their marriage, husband John was having serious life and legal problems... troubles that could have led to his arrest and imprisonment.  With his previous exile/convict history, it is very understandable that he would not go through that again if he could avoid it.

Which he did by disappearing with Mary and three of their teenage daughters.  The five of them went into hiding, took on the last name alias of Harrison, and moved to New Zealand.

The other living children, now adults, stayed in Tasmania, and kept their natural/original name of Polkey, their descendants are Polkey's.

The three teen daughters who take on the alias of Harrison in New Zealand... never in their lifetimes disclosed to their own children or any other family/relatives that they were really Polkey's. They married as Harrison's... and every one of their New Zealand civil, public, and public records is under the Harrison alias... or their husband's name.  The Harrison-alias, became the MATERNAL generational family tree name of their descendants (decades & generations).  John and Mary were maternal-side Grandpa/Grandma Harrison to the children of these three married daughters (born Polkey).

Research by a professional genealogist is 2020, and DNA confirmation... has revealed to the Harrison descendants that their x4 Grandmother/Aunt/Relatives (the three daughters/sisters) were actually Polkey's and that their generational genealogy family name of Harrison is an alias.

Quite a shock after generations/decades.  One of the questions that they/we must address, is what name to use in their family tree now.  They ARE generationally, Harrison descendants. Do the Harrison's have to change their name to Polkey in their family genealogy tree?  How do you address the issue of some of the children in this same unique generation keeping the Polkey name, and some of them using the alias of Harrison in a family genealogy tree? Do they/we put the names of their ancestors in as Polkey-Harrison?  Polkey-Alias Harrison? Something else?

For generations, the Australian/New Zealanders have been Harrison descendants on their maternal side; suddenly in 2020 they discover Harrison is an alias and Polkey is their real family name... how do they/we address this new 'name' information in our family genealogy tree?  I would appreciate some opinions/thoughts from G2G.
WikiTree profile: Mary Polkey
in Genealogy Help by Steve Archuleta G2G6 (6.8k points)
edited by Steve Archuleta
If they were Harrison by birth name, that is their name.  They are/were not Polkey except by blood descent.  By the modern day, they have no legal claim to the Polkey name, although if any wished to revert to it, they could probably do so by usage.

This really isn't any different than a Smythe deciding to be Smith.  It's just the reasons behind the change that differ.
Hmmm, let me clarify something that I may not have presented right in my post.  There were no children/descendants with the name of Harrison.  Harrison is an alias used in the maternal line (the three daughters).  The children and grandchildren would have the paternal name of the men/husbands.  The question would be, I think (?) is if the descendants who have always believed that their maternal line began with the name of Harrison, are now obligated to use the name of Polkey, or something like Polkey-Harrison in their family tree.  The girls were born, Polkey's, and never legally or by marriage changed their name to Harrison.  Up to 2020, only the name of Harrison (an alias) was used in their MATERNAL genealogy line in their family tree.  The question, I think, is should the Maternal line be name changed to Polkey after generations have passed, as the girls were born, or should a hybrid Polkey-Harrison name be use in their family genalogy tree.
If they were known during their lifetimes as Harrison, then that was their legal last name.  An alias, by usage, unless they chose to use it to defraud, is legal.

What last name was on any marriage documents?

Personally, I would document them as born Polkey, used Harrison, died whatever.  If there were no males to carry down the Harrison alias, it doesn't matter how it's documented on your private trees.

I've a cousin (long deceased) whose birth last name was Kirgan.  His forenames were Robert Gordon.

For whatever reason, at some point after he moved with his wife and two eldest children from Australia to New Zealand, he became known as / started using Gordon-Kirgan as his last name.  (Personally I think it was because clerks used to run the names together and he just got tired of correcting it.)  Legally, when he died, his last name was by then Gordon-Kirgan.

Your Polkey folk died as Harrison, yes?  (Except the girls who married.)  So they were Harrison legally, even if their reasons for the name change were to hide themselves.
The three daughters who went into hiding with their parents used the alias of Harrison in their marriage records, both church and civil.
Then on Wikitree they would be LNAB Polkey, CLN whatever was their last name at death, OLN Harrison (and any other last names they may have used).  For recording in a non-WT private tree between you and the cousins - LNAB Polkey, CLN whatever it is/was.. and note to the side that they were known as Harrison - and why.  (Not that much different, really, from doing it the WT way.)

It matters to record the names that were used, and why, in case someone else wants to find the records.
Thank you (!) for sharing your expertise.   I understand and agree. See my larger note below.

2 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

"The three teen daughters who take on the alias of Harrison in New Zealand... never in their lifetimes disclosed to their own children or any other family/relatives that they were really Polkey's. They married as Harrison's... and every one of their New Zealand civil, public, and public records is under the Harrison alias... or their husband's name.  The Harrison-alias, became the generational family tree name of their descendants (decades & generations)"

My understanding of how these women should be entered into WikiTree based on current guidelines is;

Last Name at Birth: Polkey

Current Last Name: Their married name that they died with

Other Last Name(s): Harrison

It would also be helpful to explain the situation in their biographies.

by James Knighton G2G6 Mach 2 (25.2k points)
selected by Eef van Hout
This sounds/feels right.  I get/understand that is the way to do it on my family WikiTree Connor profiles and that all descendants/relatives should revise their family trees because of this 2020 discovery.

Me/myself/I, who still only gets one vote/opinion still wants to give the Harrison name a bit more recognition somehow/someway than just an 'other' in their profile bio's.  For generations, descendants have lived their entire lives believing/knowing their maternal 'line' name was Harrison.  I am part of the Connor line, but I'd still like to give Harrison a stronger name status, more than just 'other'... in the family tree.  Even though it started as an alias to hide from the law... it became (maternally) generational.  If I was a Harrison descendant, I'd have a tough time just giving up my generational maternal line name.

I think... I'll make the necessary revisions, with some reservation because I will always wonder if would feel/be right, for the maternal-line Harrison descendants.
+8 votes
I helped a friend find family members that turned out to be tricky to locate for a nearly identical reason.  I would say last name at birth is last name at birth.  Any subsequent names would fall under "current" name or "other name."  

Some version of the explanation you offer here would go in the biography.
by Amy Garber G2G6 Mach 1 (12.9k points)
There are many families that changed their names when they came from Europe / Asia to United States, so the Last Name at Birth is one name, but their Current Last Name was something different.  Generations after that were born with the new 'name' so that would be the Last Name at Birth for those Generations.  Paperwork is your source for the names at different times. Other Last Names can be used for alternate spellings of name or other names used during their lifetime on sources.

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