What do we do with people who use different first names depending on circumstances?

+10 votes

There are some historic examples for people who used (or had used for them in the literature) different first names depending on language and culture at their time. Example: the son of Spytihněv II of Bohemia (no profile yet) who is variously referred to as Svatobor, Fridrich, Friedrich, and Gunther. They are all demonstrably the same person, the only Slavic patriarch of Aquileia:

  • Svatobor Friedrich, Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands
  • "... Guntherum patriarcham ...", Genealogica Wettinensis
  • Svatobor-Bedřich, J. Čechura, J. Mikulec, F. Stellner, Lexikon českých panovnických dynastií, Prague 1996
  • Swatobor (1084-1086): Il Patriarcato d'Aquileia - Patriarchi "Ghibellini", infinito.it
  • Friedrich II. von Mähren, Swatobor Friedrich von Böhmen, Federico di Moravia, Svatobor (Fridrich) in German, Italian, and Czech secondary literature

 As a member of the Czech Přemyslovci dynasty his Proper First Name should be Svatobor but what about the other "first" names he is known under? Leave them to the biography?


Addendum: More recent applicability - people from bilingual areas who have used their name in both languages at the same time depending on the circumstances (my grandfather used to carry two birth certificates, one in German with his name as Johann, one in Czech with his name as Jan).


in Genealogy Help by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (617k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
It would certainly seem to me that you should you should use the name on (a) birth certificate, baptism or other birth reference and put the other names under preferred name or nicknames and then explain it all in the Biography.  In a case like your grandfather, if you don't have an indication of which birth certificate came first, then flip a coin and let the next generation of genealogists work it out.  (but be sure to cite the coin used like US quarter 1988d) <g>
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (449k points)
+4 votes

I've read somewhere that the Genealogica Wettinensis isn't very reliable and it looks like Gunther might be a mistake, in which case I would not use that name or only as a note in the biography.

Perhaps use Svatobor as the first name, and one of Friedrich, Fridrich, Federico or Bedrich as preferred name?  Is there any information on what roles he had in the Church before he was appointed Patriarch of Aquileia?  That might give an indication of what name to use?  If he was basically raised in Germany after the family was exiled in 1061 then Friedrich might be the most appropriate.



by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (640k points)

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