Married Names and Patronymics

+11 votes
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Before there were surnames, there were patronymics.  A woman named Isabel, born around 1186, was alleged to be an illegitimate daughter of King John, so she was known as Isabel Fitz Roy, Isabel, child of the king.

Isabel married Richard Fitz Ives, Richard son of Ives, or Yves.  

Since patronymic names indicate who a person's father was, I would think that a married woman would not adopt her husband's patronymic  "I used to be the daughter of Roy, now I'm the daughter of Ives."  

Does anyone have any sources where a woman has adopted her husband's patronymic?  Otherwise, I would think her Current Last Name would continue to be her LNAB, unless we knew of her using some other surname.
WikiTree profile: Isabel FitzIves
in Policy and Style by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (352k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
There are instances in New Netherland where records show a woman being identified by her husband's patronymic.

Carrie calls these "husbandnymics"   :-D
So Ellen, I looked up a New Netherlands possible ancestor at random and see https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jans-23 Geestie Jans, daughter of Jan Doets, so Jans is her patronymic.  She married twice to Ostrander and Pier, and I see her husbands' LNABs have been added as other last names, but neither as CLNs.  Therefore on her profile, "aka Ostrandier, Pier" show up at top, but since neither is presented as her CLN, when one clicks on "Family Tree and Tools" one sees here as Geestie Jans, not as someone else.  

Is that the preferred way of presentation in the New Netherlands Project?
The New Netherland Settlers project scrutinises records to determine names.

The only records known for that woman give her last name as Jans, so that's her LNAB and her Current Last Name. However, because numerous genealogies call her Ostrander or Pier, those names are included as Other Last Names.

If she was recorded with a husband's last name, then that name would appear as Current Last Name.
Thank you.  New Netherlands is awesome.

1 Answer

+5 votes

Part of the problem with finding names for medieval people, is of course that we are applying modern naming standards and often modern spelling to people who both didn't have surnames nor a standard way of writing names.  Even if they did have something that developed into a surname, it might not be consistent from one generation to the next.

For instance Isabel would never have used the name FitzRoy during her lifetime.  There are no primary documents that name her as the daughter of King John, which is why she is only alleged to be his daughter, the closest we seem to get is a manuscript from the College of Arms, written long after Isabel had died, which calls her filie Regis Joh'is (presumably short for Johannis).

I haven't yet found any other primary documents that name her, but I would presume that if they exist she would be referred to as the wife of Richard, (something like Isabella uxor Ricardi filius Ivonis). Incidentally Richard is also unlikely to have ever used FitzIves as his surname, more likely to be fillius Ivo/Iuo or perhaps Fit(z?) Yva, as in the document above.

However we do have to provide names on WikiTree and the modern variations are what we mostly find in recent sources (see post by Douglas Richardson).  Having said all that, I think FitzIves as her Current Last Name is as good as any, or if it is decided to use FitzRoy, then FitzIves should still be used as an Other Last Name.

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (455k points)
So I understand why "current last name" is important in recent western culture:  Mary Smith marries Jones and from then only all documents refer to Mary Jones;  then Jones dies, she remarries and she becomes only known as Mary Brown.  The computer needs to be able to find Mary Smith, Mary Jones and Mary Brown and know they are the same person.  

And I understand why FitzRoy is a good LNAB to assign Isabel, though like most persons of her era, she probably was never addressed with a surname in her life.  But the computer needs a LNAB, so we provide one that is as reasonable as any -- and it helps us identify her, too.  There were many Isabels in her day.  So she marries Richard, son of Yves.  Did that do anything to how she was known in her day?  

CLN is certainly a useful thing to track for 20th century women and even many 21st century women, because we know women in our era often (but not always) change their names upon marriage.  But since we know that women in Isabel's era didn't use last names at all, why must we now assign her a second last name she didn't use, in addition to the earlier last name that she didn't actually use?   

Since the CLN isn't for her convenience, it presumably is for ours.  I think that's what I'm really trying to dig out here -- what makes it more convenient for us to show her --either under CLN or Other Last Name, with a surname of FitzIves?  Because the profile currently shows a CLN of FitzIves, you'll notice that in the link at the top of this query, she is shown as Isabel FitzIves.  That is no convenience whatsoever to me, who knows her as Isabel FitzRoy!  And since I know she married Richard FitzIves, when I see her listed as Isabel FitzIves my first thought is "OMG, did he marry his sister?"  So if what is now up for discussion is who benefits from this convenience, I hope those living genealogists who find it a convenience to see her name written as Isabel FitzIves will stand up and be counted!    

This does prompt a request to the WikiTree programmers, however -- I pray that piece by piece the code which completely eliminates a woman's LNAB when presenting a woman's name will be rewritten to always include it at least in parenthesis.  If the display above showed her names as Isabel (FitzRoy) FitzIves, I'd at least have a clue who we're talking about!

I alluded to, but probably didn't explain very well, that often we only find a woman mentioned in documents in relation to a male relative, probably her husband, or perhaps her father or her son.  

Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a record that gives her relationship to all three, as in the one I mentioned above, where she is the daughter of King John, wife of Richard, fitz Yva, and mother of William fitz Yva.

However if we could only find Isabel mentioned in a document as the wife of Richard FitzIves, then I think it's important that FitzIves is used somewhere in her name fields.  Even in the situation where we do have both her names, I still think including FitzIves can only assist in placing her correctly and avoiding merges with anyone else named Isabel FitzRoy.

For instance I spent some time yesterday trying to sort out some Margaret Hepburn(e) profiles, and at least if her husband/s surname was there somewhere, it helped to work out who was who (though not to stop an incorrect merge unfortunately).

Jack, I don't quite understand your last paragraph or where you are talking about.  If I search for Isabel FitzRoy for instance, I get a list including Isabel (FitzRoy) FitzIves abt 1186 England and her profile page has the same.  OK, I've just looked at the link to the profile on your question and that just has Isabel FitzIves.

John, what you wrote her, if accurate, changes everything:

"Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a record that gives her relationship to all three, as in the one I mentioned above, where she is the daughter of King John, wife of Richard, fitz Yva, and mother of William fitz Yva."

Richard was the son of Yva or Ives, so fitz Yva is a patronymic.  but William was the son of Richard.  If the document -- late, but still the earliest one we have -- refers to William as fitz Yva --- then fitz Yva has changed from being a patronymic to being a surname, carried down intact from one generation to the next.

Once it's a surname rather than a descriptor of who the father is, then I don't have a problem with Isabel being FitzIves, i.e. she married into the FitzIves family.  

If it has become a surname at that point, however, then we need to change the LNAB's of her children, who are currently given the patronymic fitzRichard.  If FitzIves has become a surname, then it's FitzIves that should be their designation -- as shown for William in your source.

BTW, I want to add the material you quoted to Isabel's profile -- I'll create a dummy source and ask you to substitute the proper citation when it's possible for you!  

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