Should I change a birth surname when it is clear that the surname isn't a biological surname?

+7 votes
70 views
I have recently discovered the birth registrations of three of my ancestors, my GG-grandmother and her two siblings.  I know their parentage based on their marriage and death certificates and a copy of their father's will but I could not find a marriage registration between their parents or a death registration or cemetery record for their mother.

I have since discovered that their mother was previously married so their birth registrations were entered under their mothers married name ( fathers name is entered as not registered). I have also found the death registration for their mother under her married name and a cemetery record  under her married name and their fathers name, their fathers surname being spelt incorrectly.

Bearing in mind that their last name at birth has no biological connection to the surname they used throughout their lives should I change their last names at birth on WikiTree or leave them as they are with a note on their profile.
in The Tree House by Norma Hartigan G2G Crew (360 points)
Thank you to those who answered my query.  I have since received a printout of my GG-Grandmothers birth registration and although it does not record  her fathers details it does state that her parents were "not in a legal relationship'.  As well the printout I received was not a photocopy of the original registration but a typed printout this means that at some point her name was changed.

As a result I will keep her surname and her siblings as the name she was known throughout her early life until she married.  I think that  changing her name to what is recorded on her birth registration will only cause unnecessary confusing .

3 Answers

+2 votes
I've had to use the 'current last name' a number of times in my One-Name-Study. As they were born/registered with one name but as they grew up - over time the name adapted and letters were left out of the full surname.

Though I appreciate your circumstances are different the person grew up with the only known name they have.

Personally I would use the 'LNAB' and use the 'current last name' for their name.
by Anonymous Bowling G2G6 Mach 5 (59.5k points)
+1 vote
I agree that the LNAB should be the name the baby was originally registered with.

If they used a different last name while growing up, that can go under Current Last Name (if they are still using that name, or used it at death) or Other Last Names (if they have a different name now).

It's not a problem if the last name at birth (LNAB) isn't the last name of the biological father. WikiTree doesn't insist that children should have their fathers' last names. List the child with the child's LNAB and put the biological father in the father slot.
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
0 votes
Dunno about the colonies, but in England surnames weren't fixed at birth and there was no box for surname of child on the birth cert.

It's not valid to say they were registered with their mother's name just because the father's name is missing.

Of course they'll be indexed at the registry under the mother's name, but the index is only a finding aid.

Either the father's name or the mother's maiden name or the late husband's name would be valid choices - whether the father's name is registered or not.

Unmarried fathers weren't registered unless they attended in person, which of course wasn't usually convenient during office hours.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (561k points)
Convention is surely that without a father's name we use the mother's. There are also those with father's name at birth, who were definitely not his biological children.

Personally I'm all for anything that breaks away from the tradition of following the paternal line. I believe the mother's maiden name is just as important as the father's (whatever the male equivalent of maiden is). I have used mt father's name throughout my life for legal convenience, but as far as I am concerned I am just as much a Tattersall.

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