Name changes

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My great grandfather changed his name from John Thomas Moriarty to John Taylor Lozon.  He lived 1895-?1944.  Would he have had to do this legally or could he simply just start using this new name.  I understand why and when he started using the new name.  I just would like to know the legality of doing this in the time he was alive.  All census and legal documents use his changed name not his given name.  Would he have to prove his identity?  He never used a social security number but did they not use birth certificates?
in Genealogy Help by Jamie Lynn Henderson G2G Rookie (260 points)

1 Answer

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From reading this page on Wikipedia it looks to me like he could change his name without filing paperwork:

I looked at your page on this ancestor and he was using his birth surname of Moriarty on the 1900 federal census. It looks to me like he switched to Lozon after his mother married a man named named Lozon.
by Shayne Davidson G2G2 (2.2k points)
Thank you.  I read the article you linked.  That was helpful.  It took me twenty years to figure out his birth name!  It was fun actually.

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