Why merge two surnames that are of distinct and serparate origins

+5 votes
WikiTree profile:
in The Tree House by anonymous G2G Crew (310 points)
retagged by Julie Ricketts
Some of the Scots Thomsons migrated to Northumbria England, and over time, they switched to the English spelling of the name Thompson. In other names, there are also variant spellings:  Thompkins, Thomkins, Tompkins, and Thomkins.
This happens in a lot of family trees, Geste, changed to Guest, then to von Geste, then back to Guest. In some families it depends on where the person was born, how the name is spelt.

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
The different spellings of Thomson and Thompson don't necessarily indicate distinct and separate origins. I have this name in my own ancestry. The received wisdom from family sources is that our ancestral  name is Thomson. The earliest ancestor of this name who I can identify was a Scotsman who emigrated from Ulster to America circa 1718 (or not long thereafter). Although I think he was named Thomson, spelling in that era was not standardized, and records of this family that I've found have the spellings Thomson and Thompson. (For example, the will that his son wrote in 1756 includes both spellings.)

Variant spellings of names are a common situation in older records, particularly pre-1800. As a result, it's all too common for WikiTree to discover that multiple profiles were created for the same person under variant spellings of that person's name. We merge those duplicate profiles and we show the multiple variant spellings on the merged profile.
by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
selected by Rosemary Jones
Me too as regards Thomson and Thompson. The usage is very inconsistent although the earlier records seem to be Thomson with the late ones Thompson.
As far as my 'Thomson' ancestry is concerned, as I have checked back to in the 1700's in Scotland, our name has been spelt 'Thomson' without the 'p'. My understanding is that the spelling of  'Thomson' without the 'p' is of Scottish origin and the spelling of 'Thompson' with a 'p' is of English origin. Me and my relatives prefer to maintain the Scottish version of  the spelling of our ancestral line, and that is to keep the spelling as 'Thomson'.  Thanking You Kindly.
It sounds like your family line has been unusually fortunate in never having variant spellings of the family name recorded by registry offices, parish clerks, town clerks, census enumerators, probate judges, relatives by marriage who wrote family histories, or the various other recorders who are wont to create variant spellings. Because most of the rest of us have found that our ancestors' names were spelled in different ways in different records, WikiTree continues to record alternate spellings for many names -- and may need to merge records when it is discovered that two different profiles were created for the same person, one named Thomson and the other named Thompson.
When I stated that our name has been spelt 'Thomson' since as far as I can research into the 1700-'s, I mean that the name spelling has been held to be spelt without the 'p' by ourselves (the Thomsons) through the generations. Some of the third party people stated by you have Included the 'p' (much to our disgust) when they have recorded information. Neither myself, my siblings, nor our ancestors have ever signed our name any other way than ' THOMSON'. The signature is the last word with us and always was and is. Any relatives by marriage who wrote family histories who included the 'p' were (and still are) suitably chastised about it. I see no way that Wiki is of any use to us with our family history. Not withstanding our stand on this matter, I thank you again kindly for your input but we prefer to hold to our view on our spelling.
The problem is that lines converge as you go back.  Very probably at some point your line will meet up with somebody who insists that his family have always been Thompsons.

So what should happen then?
We will hold to the way that we have spelt our surname for at least the last 300+ years and further back should there be a proven case of a connection with the different spelling of our name then there will a confrontation and that is nothing new to us.
What people don't seem to get is, there is no basis to suppose that a name had one correct original spelling.

Variants didn't arise because people didn't know how to spell properly.  There just wasn't any properly.

How do people imagine surnames originated?
Well, we 'Thomson's' are sticking to our ancestral lineage spelling without the 'p'. We don't imagine how surnames came to be spelt originally. We follow our known ancestral lineage of the spelling of 'Thomson'. Where spelling becomes uncertain and it is a line of ancestry we are following, the way we currently spell our name will prevail. Should another party who has claims to our ancestral lineage insist on the name being spelt as 'Thompson', then that is their insistence only and our stand on the spelling will not be changed.
My Thompson's used both spellings and the p looks as if it was added after coming to North Carolina in the late 1600's.  My branch moved to Virginia (what is now West Virginia) and Pennsylvania and others stayed in NC.  They came from the Ulster region and before that Scotland.  May have been in the Plantations after being uprooted from Edinburgh to Lanark. The spelling there was Thomson and at that time a Scottish Thomson Clan existed (1300's) with the chief said to be Johannes Thomson. Upon his death, it looks as if the Clan became sept of the Campbell Clan.
I mentioned my Ulster Scots ancestors in a social conversation with a well-informed Scotsman (resident of Scotland), who said that Ulster Scots with names like Thomson and Henry (the two names I mentioned) were most likely to be from the Scottish Lowlands, not Highlands Clans. (For what it's worth, he said his own ancestors were Lowlands Scots.)
The Highlands were to Scotland what Ireland was to England - hairy and scary.  Primitive, uncouth, overpopulated, ungovernable and dangerous.

They'd have sent Highlanders if they wanted to massacre some Irish, but not if they wanted to try to civilize them.
RE: Thomson, my ancestors were Scottish Lowlanders and we hold to the same spelling without  the 'p' from the 1700's to the present day and to the future. I will not be answering with any further comments on this matter.
My experience is exactly the same as Donald's.

My family are Scottish and our surname Thomson has been spelled without the "p" in all records I can find back to the 17th century.

Thompson is a different surname of English origin due, I read somewhere, to the pronunciation in England.

Like Donald I would take exception to the surname of my ancestors being changed to Thompson which is a surname they never used.
But if some Thompsons from Yorkshire say had moved to Scotland, they too would have been spelled Thomson, because that was the custom.

So anybody claiming that this indicated anything about their origin would be misled.
+2 votes

Donald, I don't see where any merge has been proposed on your managed profiles ???


Names change with moving to different countries & locations, this is called Anglicisation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglicisation .

For an example: my second Great Grand mother is: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Baily-29 Baily. They were Quakers & preffered life to be simplified; their name used to be Bailey, & before that Bailley, & before that Baille. 

Here are some variations of my Sirname Vickery... Vicare, Vickrey, Vickere, Vicaire, Attvickers, atte Vicars, Viccars, Atvicars, Vicary, Vickery, Vickarman, Viccars, Vickers, McVicar, Vikery, La Vacher, Livaccari, La Vache, Vassiere, Verrick, Verrechia, Verick, Vickere, Vicar, Verick, Verecker, Vick, Vitterey, Vittory, Vittori, Vockery.  

Also Duesler Duessler Du├čler from Germany. 

Lippit from New Jersey, may have been Lippincott at one time. People did not know how to read or write well back in those days And people who did try to make records were not always good spellers. :)

There are many of us that have this same problem: http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/100199/i-have-a-family-line-that-has-two-variations-of-spelling?show=100199#q100199

for this reason, Many of us have started or completed "One Name Studies" : http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:One_Name_Studies_FAQ_Page

by Anonymous Vickery G2G6 Pilot (242k points)
edited by Anonymous Vickery

I also had a merge forced, with no communication to me regarding the  merge.The surname was DUGAIN, the merge that was being forced was DUGAN. The reason the merge was never done by me was because there was NO supporting evidence that my DUGAIN was even the DUGAN . In fact I have not found a birth cert for my said DUGAIN, but can support who she married and when she died. Neither could the DUGAN profile prove any sources to state that our DUGAIN AND DUGAN where the same person, or shared the same parents.Because there was no supporting evidence,  Just because she THOUGHT they where related - there surnames different spelling,does not mean that they are the same person ! Just in my home town alone there are five women with my name, and I have to show my drivers license each time to prove which Sandra I am ..

What happened to sourcing the information for profiles before requesting a merge. And then to have it forced, leaves me to question Wikitree and its need to source facts...

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