Name at birth - Johann or Jean?

+8 votes
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I'm not sure how I should record the name at birth for my 3rd-great-grandfather Johann Nagel. The civil registration of his birth records his name as Jean Nagel, because the area of Germany he lived in was under French control as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. Although his name was first recorded as Jean, he was never called that, and I'm sure that when his parents chose a name for him, it was Johann, not Jean, and they would have made that choice prior to registering his birth. So what name should I use when I create his profile - Jean Nagel or Johann Nagel?
in Policy and Style by E. Gatlin G2G6 Mach 1 (11.0k points)

1 Answer

+5 votes

The naming guidelines say "This is the formal given name that would appear in official documents". So I think it should probably be Jean. But definitely use Johann for the preferred name. And then explain the whole thing in the biography.

First names are not as crucial, they don't determine ID, so you can decide to change it later, if you were to find a baptism record near his birth that said Johann.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
The Welsh will love that interpretation.  And all the medievals should be in Latin, since all the records were.
Those medievals.. Ah (rolling eyes) they have their own rules... Johann's not that old
If only they did have their own rules.

But I'm not going to call my 18th century ancestor Rogerus just because the Vicar was still keeping the register in Latin.

Point is though, many places are bilingual.  I don't think think the rule is intended to say that the language of the register is definitive.  It certainly wasn't understood that way at the time.
No, he's not that old; he was born in 1814.
I agree with RJ -- many places were (and still are) multicultural or multilingual, and people used multiple versions of their given names. This is common in the early history of New York state, where people of Dutch, French, German, English, and occasionally other linguistic origins were intermingled -- and the same man might be recorded as Johann, John, Johannes, Jean, and Jan. And I see it in my daily life today, as some of the people I know who originated in diverse parts of the world (e.g., China) have adopted anglicized versions of their names as their American nicknames.

Regarding Latin: I don't think I've seen Latin names as recently as 1814, but in 17th- and 18th-century records from the New Netherland area and from the Netherlands, I've seen plenty of records for ancestors who were christened with Latin names like Petrus or Arnoldus or Franciscus, but apparently used vernacular versions of the name (e.g., Pieter or Aert or Frans) in their daily lives. This was not limited to Catholic churches; it also occurred in Reformed (Protestant) churches.
My grandmother's name was recorded in Latin on her baptismal record, as Margaretham Annam Schneider. This was in 1911. All the records from Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri were kept in Latin. On her birth certificate, her name was recorded as Margaret Ann Schneider.
Beg to differ, the Johanns in my family go back to 1690-ish, somewhere along the line the second n was dropped my guess that happend around 1880.

There wer two origins of Latin names:

a) in the 17th and 18th century latin names were given only in cities, not in villages as sign of intellectual or scientific life. Many persons (men) changed their Name into latin when tehy visited universities.

b) pastors had different traditions of Name conventions. In my hessian village of origin we had a Protestant pastor from Bavaria, I suppose. Like in Bavaria traditional manor had a female form of Family Name. The daughter  of a Mr. Goll was noticed as Anna geborene Gollin.

First I thaugt, that this form was usually in former times in my Region. But then  I found out, that he wrote: "...ward geboren ein Dochterl", like they speak in Bavaria.

c) in catholic registries (for exemple in the Sudeten Region) in the early 18th century priests used latin names and Profession titles (Molitor for miller, murarius, medicus ...

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