Proper Listing of Names

+11 votes
Good evening, I am new to WikiTree and the Dutch_Roots Project but have been keeping my family's genealogy for 25 years.  I want to make sure I'm following the proper standards when creating profiles for ancestors.  When faced with variations on a spelling, which should be chosen?  

Case study:  My great-grandfather, vital records link here:

(The only record not listed in this link is his birth record.)

Johannes Beukema

Johannes Beukema

Childrens' Births:
Johannes Beukema
Johannes Buikema
Johannes Jans Buikema

Father of Bride/Groom:
Johannes Beukema
Johannes Buikema
Johannes Jans Buikema

Death - Johannes Beukema

I should also note that his childrens' names shift based on the listing of his last name (ie., Buikema records have Buikema children, and Beukema records have Beukema children, even though they come from the same household).  

Record 18 in the link above references my grandparents, so I've always referred to the gentleman in question as Johannes Jans Buikema.

So ... do I just pick one??????  Thank you for the clarification.
WikiTree profile: Johannes Beukema
in Policy and Style by Stacey Korn G2G Crew (490 points)
If you can find it in original print, that's the one I'd go with.  Hand writing can be misread, the third letter could be a script u and misread to be an I easily.

2 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

Hi Stacey, and welcome to Wikitree,

In general the birth record, or in it's absence the earliest possible record should be used, literally the Last Name at Birth. Some people do not 'like' this guideline as all the children of a family might end up with a different variation, but the community needs to have an objective standard that can be applied when different lines of descendants who have adopted different spelling variants cannot resolve which spelling should be used for their shared ancestor.

The real challenge can be deciding what form a patronymic "surname" should take (Should the son of Peter be given the "surname" Peters, Petersz, Peterse, Petersen, Petering, Peterink, etc....) often this involves looking at the conventions of their time/place, and what they were known as in later records.

With all this said, some 'common sense' also applies - if all prior records for the parents, and all later records for a child use one particular spelling and the birth record is truly a one-off then the 'common' spelling should be used with an explanation in the biography.

Ultimately its up to the profile contributors to decide what name variant to use - the only time the guideline is likely to be 'enforced' is when two contributors have a dispute about the surname that they cannot resolve.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
selected by Living Terink

Just to add, in this specific case I would definitely use the surname Buikema based on the father's very legible signature on the birth record, rather than the Beukema spelling that the clerk gives.

You will also note in the marriage record that both Johannes' own signature and his father's are again spelled Buikema but the clerk has again recorded the surname as this instance the clerk is recording what was extracted from the birth record.
Thank you very much for the clarification.  I looked at some of the signatures on the original documents and it looks like the majority of the family signed their name Buikema (even on some of the records where Beukema is documented and the tittle on the i is clear).  Now, a secondary question ... what do I do about the name "Jans" included in some of the records?  The signatures on those documents clearly show "J. J. Buikema" but not all signatures include the initial for "Jans."

First off, I will assume you have already made sure the records are for the same person, and not similarly named people, but I'll mention it anyway for the benefit of anyone else reading this post.

As one example I have Hendrik Cornelis Ton who married a Johanna de Bie, and his brother Cornelis Ton who married Johanna Jacoba de Bie (the two wives were not siblings). I have families with (living) siblings Dirk and Dirk Jan, and even families where half-siblings have the same given name (the younger sibling was born after the elder sibling had married and left home).

Returning to this specific profile, I would use "Johannes" by itself as the "Proper First Name" as that is what appears in the birth record. Given that the informant gives just "Johannes" for the death record I would also likely use that as the Preferred name. "Jans" is not per se a middle name (as the Dutch Roots project naming examples point out, they don't have middle names in the sense that many other cultures do). As such I would suggest either entering "Johannes Jans" under "other nicknames" or just omitting it from the name fields and simply mentioning the use of "Johannes Jans" in the bio. *Note your case here is very similar to but not quite the same as the Dutch Roots naming example 3/4.

I don't agree, his Lastname at birth is Beukema. See Birthcertificate in the profile. The patronymic Jans  is not correct because after 1811 in the Netherlands patronymic aren't in use anymore.


I'll try to add a bit of history on Dutch surnames as related to this case. Under Napoleon's rule it was ordered in 1811 that everyone must have a surname. Before that most ordinary people had a first name and a patronymic last name (in this case Jans = son of Jan). People could register a surname, that was recorded in a "register van naamsaanneming" (register of name adoption).

The register of the hamlet Hornhuizen was kept in Kloosterburen, and is avaliable as a film on Familysearch: 

"Netherlands, Groningen Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1940," images, FamilySearch ( : 22 May 2014), Kloosterburen > Naamsaannemingen 1812 > image 135 of 138; Nederlands Rijksarchiefdienst, Groningen (Netherlands National Archives, Groningen).

As you can see there is no surname Beukema registered (left page), whereas eight persons registered Buikema (right page). So this confirms Buikema as best surname choice.

Although there is a Harm Jans registering the surname Buikema, this is probably not the father of Jan Rijkes, because in an attachment to the marriage certificate of Jan Rijkes several witnesses declared Harm Jans died November 13, 1804.

@Joop - I am not clear on what you don't agree with. I didn't think I was suggesting that Jans was a patronym, although from the name form used, "Jans" rather than just "Jan" it does appear to be used patronymically, possibly to distinguish two individuals named Johannes Buikema.

Perhaps it was my comment that the example 3/4 from the naming conventions page is similar (but not the same) that is responsible for the confusion. For greater clarity my suggestion was that "Johannes Jans" be entered in the "other nicknames" field, or that the documented usage of "Johannes Jans" just be explained in the bio.

Please let me know if it was something else you disagreed with - I manage about 3000 profiles that are candidates for the Dutch Roots projects and always try to ensure they follow the project guidelines (as best as possible).



Johannes Jans Buikema,  Jan is the father of Johannes so its looks likes there is used a patronymic. Johannes is born in 1833. Is it correct to use patronyms for persons born after 1811?  

In my opinion it has to be Johannes Buikema (without Jans). 

I think Rob, Joop and me agree that the Proper First Name aka First Name at Birth should be just Johannes. As to the "Jans" part, I am always astonished by this apparently nostalgic use of patronymics in the Northern provinces of the Netherlands, by both clerks and persons involved. In other provinces patronymics were usually dropped when surnames became mandatory.

That said, I agree with Rob that "Johannes Jans" could be specified as Other Nickname, or be mentioned in the biography.  My preference would be to explain in the bio.
+1 vote
Hi Stacey, I look to his Birthcertificate,  his Lastname at birth is Beukema.and his proper firstname is Johannes. Don't use Jans because after 1811 patronymic aren't used anymore.
by Joop van Belzen G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
edited by Joop van Belzen

Joop - As I mentioned in my post, the clerk recorded the surname as Beukema (and that is what the archives have indexed it as) but the father's signature at the bottom of the record is very legibly Buikema - and the father's own spelling should be considered more direct evidence than the clerk's rendering.

Youre right, the father signed as Buikema., I misted that.
Well, I haven't figured out yet how to thank all of your for your replies, but thank you!!!!!

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