Please, no "British Virginia"

+10 votes
I was just on the page to create a free-space project --

and saw "British Virginia" given as an example of a place.  I believe there's been a lot of discussion on this and that the consensus is that before 1776, Virginia is just Virginia, that's what it was called, it was never called "British Virginia" and it was not part of some other fictional entity like "Colonial America" or "British America."

So would someone with the right privileges please remove that illustration?

Unless of course it was a typo for "British Virgin Islands" which is a real place...
in Policy and Style by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (468k points)
Hear, Hear ..

Virginia is just Virginia - a place on the North American continent that happened to change its style of government ...

As far as I know there has been no official determination about this from the discussion Chris started at

I know - got the above link and had a quick look at Chris' response again

I think the thing that gets some of us going is the lack of clarity between GENEALOGY as in native place or place of origin and in Political Boundaries/POSTAL ADDRESSES

Quoting this  from Chris' response - "We could do simple text matching, e.g. "London" to "London", but that breaks down quickly when there is a London, England, and a London, Great Britain, and a London, Ontario, and a London, Ont., etc., etc."

But that is the point you see - there is no place for "London, United Kingdom"  or "London Great Britain" in family history; its London, England - and that's all. If you were born in London you were born in England - or in "London, Ontario, Canada" - what's hard about that?

By your own logic there was no Virginia. It would have been Colony of Virginia and they were governed by England so the only way that would work is Colony of Virginia, British Colonial America.

Not if you understand that Ireland, Scotland, & Wales were all colonized, administered and taxed by England, yet maintained their own Native identity.  Government Constitutional monarchy  • 

  Founding 1607
 •  Became Royal Colony 1624
 •  Independence 1776


Best to leave this argument now - or else what would we do with people living in Australia when it was no more than the Colony of New South Wales?
I so agree with you Jack.
My great-grandfather's Naturalisation Certificate doesn't mention Australia. He swore an oath to Victoria the lawful Sovereign of the Colony of Queensland. No country named Australia existed at that time.
Valerie and Maryann, from what Wikipedia tells me, there was no Australia officially until January 1, 1901.  (We'll defer a discussion on whether that was the very first day of the new 20th century, or a year after!).  I suspect the term Australia had been used informally, prior to that.  But following the logic of this discussion, it would seem that using New South Wales or Queensland as the country, and leaving it at that, would be correct prior to January 1, 1901.

I learned my geography and political history mostly as a stamp collector in my early years, and I see that there were no Australia postage stamps before federation in 1901 -- each separate colony issued its own stamps.
Good one Jack, and I'll repeat something I said elsewhere recently, New Zealand was at first administered as part of New South Wales; good luck trying to enforce that on any early New Zealand profiles!!

And what about all the bilingual countries? New Zealand has another, equally valid name - Aotearoa - or to be more strictly correct, either "Te Ika-a-Maui" or "Te Waipounamu" for one or other island. We have a choice of languages; as do the Irish and Welsh etc. Can Wikitree cope with valid alternative location names?

I just brought up the example of Australia to bring this colonial America discussion into perspective. Perhaps there's simply a little post-colonial twinge behind it all.

I would like always to add Australia or US after a place name simply to help my grandchildren understand where in the world great-granny lived. I don't expect them to have absorbed world history before tackling their genealogy.
Valerie, I'm struggling with the issue of language and names on Indonesia profiles right now.  The emerging consensus seems to be:

1.  Categories:  There are to be separate category streams for each language.  We have started some Swedish language categories which would go all the way up to Kategorier.  The English language categories go all the way up to Category.  Categories can cross-link, but they are separate streams, each in their own language.  

2.  Profiles.  Profiles ideally are in the language the person profiled would have used.  I'm co-profile manager of a Chinese profile where the LNAB is a Chinese character.  We compromised and put the CLN in Roman script, otherwise I wouldn't find it.  So the Indonesian profiles we're working in use Indonesian language place names in the data field ("Hindia Belanda" rather than "Dutch East Indies" for the colonial era), and the narrative biographies are bilingual.  

I've been in New Zealand and was impressed by the effort to be bilingual in New Zealand.  From that perspective, I would think that if one is doing the profile of a person whose primary language was Maori, then Aotearoa would be the proper place name to use, although one might be precise and go back, as we've been discussing on American place names, to the date at which Aotearoa became an official alternate name for New Zealand.
Thanks Jack, I don't think it really is an issue, was just hoping that bilingual countries would be understood. I became involved in a large collection of Irish profiles for the 100th anniversary of the Rising there this year, and had to figure out how best to cope with the alternative spellings of personal names when both styles were in use at the same time and equally valid.

3 Answers

+3 votes

There is a discussion about using for the standard for place names and that site uses


Colony of Virginia, British Colonial America


1607 - 1776   .

for Virginia prior to 1776. The discussion was on this question

 and the link to the tool is

by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
But there was no entity called British Colonial America.  Maryland started out as a private fiefdom given to Lord Baltimore by the King.  Virginia was established by a trading company.  There was in fact a  higher government entity for some of the New England states for a few years, but not for the southern ones.  What is the need to make Maryland or Virginia part of something bigger when they weren't?  In fact at independence they were sovereign states;  it was only when they adopted the Constitution they they conceded some of their sovereingty to the new entity called the United States of America -- and the States Rights people will assure you that they did not concede it all!  I just don't understand what the impulse is to try to create a fictional bigger entity for Virginia or Maryland to be part of.

actually, WikiTree's Virginia project /US Southern Colonies project do not use the 1776 date, we use the date Virginia ratified the Constitution: June 25, 1788.

See Category:Virginia Colony and Category:Virginia.

Pending the outcome of the locations discussion, I remove USA from the datafields for colonial-era Virginia locations, but leave whatever other additional location someone has added, and leave whatever version for USA someone has added for post-USA Virginia locations (for both pre- & post-USA on profiles I manage alone, I just use Virginia).

+2 votes

I just use: . Although it may have never been a Colony, I call it Virginia Colony. Virginia Colony entered the Union on: 25 June 1788 :)

by Anonymous Vickery G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
not sure how I missed your comment before I posted mine (about using the June 25, 1788 date). I know I'm slow, but I don't think it took me an hour to write that!
Maybe because of my satellite connection & that my IP roams... Only two real "Ramps" in the USA Boston & California. :)
+2 votes
Because it is an open profile, anyone can edit the title. I was surprised to see this change, especially since I am the coordinator of this sub project. I asked the project leader about this change, thinking I had missed something, but I never got a reply. This discussion confirms what I already knew, so you will be happy to know that I changed the name back to the correct one, US Southern Colonies Virginia. If anyone changed it again, i will be sure to correct it!
by Robin Kabrich G2G6 Mach 4 (47.9k points)
Robin -- great -- but the place that caught my attention still has British Virginia --

I think only a leader or someone with special privileges can change it there!
I think you are correct about that! I sure can't change that one!

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