Are We Now Adding "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" After England?

+15 votes

I have seen "England," "England, United Kingdom" and "England, UK." I haven't seen United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland before, but it is now being added to some place names. 

I know we are possibly moving toward Standardized place names. I also realize that names and political jurisdictions have changed over time and that we should use the place name for the place during the relevant period. Should we be adding "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" to profiles?

WikiTree profile: Alexander Webber
in Policy and Style by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (335k points)

4 Answers

+19 votes
Best answer
I only ever use England, Scotland, Wales, etc it's much easier to use them as the last section then the U.K as that has changed a lot, and could be a bit political.

And on a personal note most people I know would identify their country as being where they are from rather than the U.K
by A. C. Raper G2G6 Mach 4 (47.5k points)
selected by Living McAusland
I am a naturalised UK citizen, I consider myself as a UK citizen (not English, Welsh, Scottish) etc.
I understand what your saying as I'm also an Australian citizen (the legal reality) but I would never identify as being from a specific state (the cultural reality) because I'm not from a specific one.

On the other hand I'm a British citizen by birth (the legal reality) but I was born in England (the cultural reality), It would be weird for me to claim Scotland, N.Ireland, or Wales because I'm not from those countries.

It ain't half complicated is it, trying to figure out location names : )
+17 votes
Not as far as I know. I myself see no need for it.
by Rosemary Jones G2G6 Pilot (244k points)
I agree, this is totally unnecessary, and also was a country name that only applied for a short period of time (1801-1922), so although it's correct for this profile, it should not be used for dates outside this range.

Also "St George's, Warwickshire" is ambiguous - possibly Birmingham St George?
+14 votes

I think we have to stick with the WikiTree location guidelines which says:

As established on the Name Fields page, a guiding principle is to "use their conventions instead of ours."

Applied to locations, this means using place names in native languages and using the names that people at the time used, even if they now no longer exist. 

Place names, and even boundaries, change over time. They also have different names in different languages. We aim to use the name that was used by the people in that place, at the time of the event you're recording. This standard allows WikiTree to be useful for people from all over the world.

It can be a trifle confusing, such as this list for St. Louis, Missouri, but this is  what the guidelines direct:  

  • St. Louis, Kingdom of France 1764
  • St. Louis, Viceroyalty of New Spain 1767
  • St. Louis, Republic of France 1800
  • St. Louis, Louisiana Purchase 1803
  • St. Louis, Missouri Territory 1812
  • St. Louis, Missouri 1821. 


by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (586k points)
Hi Kitty,

What would that suggest for English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh profiles, it seems there has to be some agreement made.

All of my ancestry, as far as I'm aware, comes from the British Isles so how should I be recording the locations using the wikitree framework their convention not ours.

Would you interpret that rule as having to use U.K where relevant?

thanks : )
I have no idea. :-|    Perhaps we should revisit the WikiTree Guideline and update accordingly.  Ask the question under Policy and Style.
But then you have to worry about how many places called St Louis existed in the Kingdom of France.

There's one in Alsace, but who knows what kingdom Alsace belonged to.  And who cares.
Sorry Kitty, but that doesn't answer the question about England.
Maybe it does, Vic.  Did Alexander say he lived in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland or did he use the term United Kingdom, or England?  What did his neighbors call their country?  

I live in the United States of America, but I rarely use the full title. Given the "use their conventions" guideline, I would think that England or UK would be acceptable, and United States or USA would also be acceptable.
I hope we don't have to try to emulate what Birmingham was called in Birmingham.
If my great great great great great great grandfather was asked where he came from, doubtless he would say 'England'.  No way would he say anything else.  The most any of our ancestors would say is 'Great Britain'.  None of this 'Kingdom of' business.  In fact, even 'United Kingdom' or 'UK' seems to me to be a fairly modern invention, once the internet was up-and-running.
I agree with Kitty,

This is not about how we feel it is about what is the correct address as given in the time frame we are editing. The United Kingdom came into use in January 1801 it was part of the addressing system created by the postal service as well as the previously stated political aspect. It is about uniting people which is the same as the ethos of WikiTree honour code we work together to achieve not using our own personal or political views. We should be guided by the locations using the wikitree framework

Here in the United Kingdom we had changes to our county boundaries in 1965 and again in 1974. When new counties/authorities came into being such as Greater Manchester and greater London
My ancestor who was alive in 1797 would have said he was English from England.

When the United Kingdom came into being in 1801, he would NOT have said he was United Kingdomish from the United Kingdom.  He would still have said he was English from England.
Absolutely agree, our ancestors only ever seen themselves from the Nations they were born in, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Politically it is Westminster Government who is desperate to make us one United Kingdom because Theresa May knows we Scots have a mandate for a second referendum to return to an Independent Scotland so is trying to cancel out our actual Nations by so many things labelled as British with the union jack.  I couldn't imagine our ancestors ever allowing Westminster to try and dissolve each of our Nations.  I say I am Scottish born and bred as majority of my ancestors and that I live in the British isles, I never ,ever put my address as UK, only Scotland.  We all have great cultures and heritages and must never allow politics in Westminster diminish our heritages, it was our ancestors and it will be passed down to our descendants and Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are countries, the United Kingdom is not an official country.
+1 vote
I adhere to the Wikitree location guidelines of using their conventions, not ours... which means definitely adding United Kingdom of Great Britain (1707-1801) or United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801-1922) or United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (post-1922) after the country.

I have numerous ancestors from all parts of the British Isles, plus colonial America and really believe its important and informative to show which entity had rule.

It takes extra time, but worthwhile IMHO.  I am certainly finding it true for my German ancestors to take the time to figure out all the jurisdiction changes that occurred - it's quite a history lesson and gives an idea of how turbulent the times were in their day.  Also, I am certain it will further enable me and/or others to locate more records (especially tax or inheritance/probate).
by Jana Shea G2G6 Mach 3 (31.2k points)

There was no "United Kingdom of Great Britain".  It was just "Great Britain" before the Union with Ireland.

But Great Britain wasn't a federation.  It replaced England and Scotland, in principle, though failed to do so in practice.  So "Yorkshire, Great Britain" would be correct pedantically - e.g it returned county MPs to the Parliament of Great Britain.  "Yorkshire, England" would be preferable pragmatically.  But "Yorkshire, England, Great Britain" represents no real structure and is wrong every which way.

The same goes for the UK.  It is not a federation.

Also, I am certain it will further enable me and/or others to locate more records (especially tax or inheritance/probate).

Well it certainly won't help for Great Britain or the United Kingdom, as all the primary records of use to family historians, continued to be held by the individual countries. Knowing that somebody was from Great Britain won't help you find their birth, marriage, death, probate or census records. You have to know if the event occurred in England (& Wales), Scotland or Ireland.

So let's keep it simple and just stick to the Place, County and Country, as used by the UK Project template.

I believe simpler helps people out, especially those who are historically and geographically challenged.  Although there was no Welsh government after 1283, people still identify themselves with being born in Wales, and not England. King  Edward the First didn't make Englishmen out of Welshmen.

Even so, I think it's proper not to use the terms Great Britain or the UK before they actually existed if one wishes to use them at all.  We all seem to want to use modern political divisions to represent what was true in the past even when it wasn't. 

My maternal grandfather was born in Bohemia when it was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, but he himself never thought of himself as being Austrian.  He was Bohemian as were his parents and grandparents.  Some of his records have Bohemia stamped on them and some say Austria. 

Now, however, Bohemia is larger, but only part of the Czech Republic  My grandfather was fluent in Czech and four other languages.  But should I say he was born in Prague, Czech Republic, when the Czech Republic didn't exist in 1897?

David give the new Location finder a go. Entering Prague in a Birth or Death location field gives a range of options including Bohemia with helpful date ranges appropriate to each one.

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