What is the "proper" way to enter Danish supplemental (non-patronymic) names?

+8 votes
I am entering more of my Danish ancestors into WikiTree.  Several of my ancestors have records recording both the normal patronymic "last name", and a "supplemental" name to distinguish them from others with the same given and last names.  Sometimes that supplemental last name changed over time.  For instance, my grandfather Soeren Christensen was variously known as Soeren Christensen, Soeren Christensen Dalum, Soeren Christensen Suldrup, and plain Soeren Dalum throughout his life.  In which field(s) should the supplemental name(s) be entered?  Also, what if the patronymic is unknown?  I have a grandfather whose name is given as Peder Toft in all the extant records.  There had to have been a patronymic, but it has been lost to time.  Should I enter him as Peder Unknown Toft? If so which fields should have which information?  Thank you!
in Policy and Style by Gilbert Nelson G2G6 (7.1k points)
retagged by Jillaine Smith
My lesson learned is that Names in genealogy are complex and Wikitree does not support names in a good way is the simple and sad answer

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer


It sounds like you are talking about a tilnavn.  See https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Project_Denmark_Discussion_Draft_for_Danish_Names

Project Denmark has not yet had a thorough discussion about where to put which parts of Danish names.  Some of it depends on time and the timing of Danish naming laws. See the discussion draft for when the laws changed.

But  here is my best guess (before our discussion, decision and settlement on guidelines).  Tilnavn are most likely to wind up being put in the nickname field when they are used as tilnavn.  If it can be determined that someone actually formally adopted a tilnavn as his slægtsnavn at some time after birth and stuck with it until death, it will likely wind up being put in the current last name field.  If it can be determined that someone actually formally adopted a tilnavn as his slægtsnavn at some time after birth and later changed it, it will likely wind up being put in the other last name field.

Do you have your grandfather's baptismal record?  If so, how is his father named and what is the date.  If your grandfather was born between 1856 and 1904, by law, his slægtsnavn (last name) at birth was frozen to be the same as his father's patronymic which would be something ending in sen.  If your grandfather was born in 1904 or later, then you have a little more searching to do.

in 1904, a new slægtsnavn law was passed. People were allowed to change their slægtsnavn name to a name of their choice based on a tilnavn or by-name of a parent or grandparent, or on a place name of property or lands owned by the family for at least two generations.  Your grandfather's last name would still be the same as your greatgrandfather's slægtsnavn because slægtsnavn were heritable at that time. But your great grandfather might have changed his slægtsnavn in response to this law making your grandfather's last name seem to be different. If you have the baptismal record from the church ledgers, it will list your grandfather's given and last name at birth.  

Then you need to look at how your grandfather appears in the censuses, how his name appears in his marriage record and how his name appears in the baptismal records of his children and how his name appears in this death/burial record.  His marriage and death records and the census will help you decide if he actually changed his slægtsnavn.  If you only see the changes in the mention of him in his children's records or as a witness in other records, it is more likely the changes remained tilnavn.

Dalum and Suldrup are both place name type. 

The trick is figuring out whether your grandfather ever adopted these tilnavn as his slægtsnavn or just continued to use them as tilnavn.  The fact that they changed over time makes it more likely that these remained tilnavn type names and referred to where he lived at the time when they were used.  Does that theory fit the known facts?


by Mary Jensen G2G6 Mach 9 (92.3k points)
selected by C S

I have this situation with many of my ancestors.  In the particular circumstance of Soeren Christensen, he was born in 1795 and died in 1856.  His birth name / christening did not include the suffix, which I take to be a tilnavn.  In this particular case, the place name tilnavn Dalum and Suldrup both referred to places he had lived in the past, but not to his current residence at the time when the record was made.

Others of my early ancestors actually did have the non-partronymic appended to the patronymic in their birth records, and others had different circumstances.

It sounds like we are going to have a fairly hard task to develop "rules" to fit the Danish names into the WikiTree fields. At this point, I have been using the "other last names" field for tilnavn, especially for tilnavn that appear in place of (instead of appended to) the birth patronymic in public records.  That was my first stab at fitting a round peg into a square hole, but I knew that wasn't entirely appropriate either.  I would welcome any other thoughts or guidance.  I am very flexible on this. I just want to find a way to best distinguish individuals to minimize duplicates, yet make sure that other people will be able to find their ancestors if I put them online.  I fear that with such a restricted field of naming options in the pre-slægtsnavn law era, we are going to end up with the same problem as the English Smith/Jones/Miller names -- lots of people with the same name and same approximate birthdates, leading to massive confusion, duplicates, and incorrect merges. I was wondering if there might be some way to add tilnavn to the possible duplicates list display that pops up as you are entering information, or if that would even be helpful or cause even more confusion.  Please excuse my rambling -- just "thinking aloud".

+1 vote

Now, I know that I should be cautious answering Danish questions from my Swedish experience - but I think that Danes were a step or two before Swedes in dropping the patronymics.

Peder Toft being your grandfather cannot be born all that long ago, and the case may well be that he was born with the surname Toft, to a father who had that same surname. At the point of change from patronymics to surnames somebody - in this case perhaps the father of your grandfather - will have been born with a patronymic (possibly patronymic + family name) but later dropped the patronymic to use only Toft. If you don't know the previous generations and at this fairly recent time, I would create him as simply Peder Toft. He had to have a father, but he would not necessarily have had to have a patronymic name.

Perhaps someone from the Denmark project will turn up with a more informed answer.

by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (374k points)
Thank you, Eva!  I am sorry that I didn't word my question regarding Peder Toft more clearly.  I was using the term grandfather generically.  Peder Toft was my ancestor whose oldest child was born in 1682.  That is the first record that I have of him. His youngest son was born in 1695.  He was my 7th great-grandfather, and he was born and lived when patronymic "surnames" was the general rule.  I just don't know what his patronymic was, so I'm not certain as to how I should enter him in the name fields.
+2 votes
Perhaps you could start with reading this page:



Add the tag Denmark to your question as well, perhaps will attract a few more people.
by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
Thank you for pointing me to that article.  It is very informative, but from the article, it appears that we still as a group have not developed a particular style for fitting Danish names into WikiTree Database fields.  I guess that is what I am really asking about.  Have there been any further developments?

Related questions

+6 votes
4 answers
+5 votes
2 answers
+3 votes
2 answers
+6 votes
3 answers
0 votes
0 answers
+3 votes
3 answers
+1 vote
1 answer

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright