How can I compare a surname?

0 votes
How can I compare a surname with different variations of the spelling? Such as Gerard, Garard, Garrard....

There are so many duplicates with variations.  There has got to be an easier way to go about this.
in Genealogy Help by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
retagged by Philip Smith
Hi Michelle,

Do you mean when searching for a particular person, how do you find all the duplicates with all the spelling variations?

If that's your question, I wish we had a good answer, but we don't. What we should be doing is integrating the surname variation tracking into search.

Yes, exactly!

Gerard is spelled so many different ways. Seems  in most of the trees I've been looking at have several variations. Example  parent is gerard  the child is garard and  grandchild is Gerrard.

This surname is proving to be a real pain in the neck!!  It wouldn't be genealogy if it was easy. LOL!

How would you intrigrate the surname variation into the search?

There are a few options for integrating surname variations into searches. One way would be entirely user defined. Kind of useless if you are unaware of alternate spellings (problem 1), but conversely allows fine grain control over results.

Another way is to use soundex codes, but as familysearch shows us indiscriminate soundex searching can sometimes produce too many results (problem 2).

I think if I had to suggest a solution I would lean lowards something similar to's 1901 Census of Canada results which helps solve problem 1 without automatically creating problem 2. When the results of a search come up it gives a list of surnames with the same soundex code and the user can select which ones to merge into a broadened set of search results. Example:

Very good idea Rob! Any ideas on how this idea could be facilitated into wikitree?

We plan on using the Variant Names Project for this:

It's similar to Soundex, but supposedly somewhat better, and able to be continually improved upon in a wiki way.

I'm not sure when we'll add it to our search systems. When we do, we can certainly make it optional as Rob suggests. (Not sure if we'd make it optional at a fine-grained level like the Canadian site. That would be more complicated.)

This is great Chris.

1 Answer

0 votes

You could try  It's free and they often have variant spellings. Here's Garard:


This ancient surname is of German and French pre 7th century origins. It derives from either of the popular personal names Gerard or Gerald. "Gerard" comprises the elements "gari" meaning a spear, and "hard" - brave, whilst "Gerald" has the same prefix of "gari", but the suffix is from "wald", meaning to rule.This type of compound name with its echoes of tough living and yet compliance with authority, is very typical of the period in history known as "The dark ages" Later after the 11th century there was a revival in Christian belief, and "names" often became biblical, through association with the crusades. The popularity of Gerard and Gerald was such as to ensure their survival into, and beyond the introduction of surnnames in the 12th century. Nobody is quite sure how many surnames emanate from Gerald and Gerard, but it is known to exceed two hundred, and for examples to be found in almost every European country. These spellings range from Garratt, Gerhard, Garred, and Jarrelt, to Gheraldi, Giraudot, Gilardengo and Gerrelts. Early examples include in England, Henry Jerard in the county of Essex in 1284, and in Germany, Burkhart Gerhart, given as being a burgher of the town of Heilbronn, in the year 1293. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of John Gerard, which was dated 1230, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Somerset, England. This was during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2013

Read more:

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
It does not work with uncommon names, like mine for example. I have five variations documented and still less than 150 of us worldwide in the last 400 years. Soundex will find thousands of possabilities but nothing of interest.

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