What's the best way to handle inconsistent last name spelling in aktes?

+6 votes
For a Belgian born before it was Belgium, when there are discrepancies in capitalization and spacing of a last-name prepositions in official documents, what's the best way to decide which spelling to use?

The concrete case I'm struggling with: I've found a source for Franciscus in the geboorteakte of his son, but while his grandson is "De Cat", he signed as "de Cat" and the scribe wrote "Decat". I think the proper thing to do is to put in his name as he signed it, especially considering he was born in 1820 when Belgium was part of The Netherlands, but would appreciate any input.
WikiTree profile: Francois Dominique De Cat
in Policy and Style by Jan-willem De Bleser G2G1 (1.4k points)
Good question. The Dutch Roots project has clear recommendations (spell in two words, no capital for de or van) but Belgian records and Belgians obviously did not follow these conventions consistently, so I don't believe they should always be used for Belgians.
I'm preparing a draft  document that should be finished by the end of teh weekend  that provides a flemish naming convention in the same way the dutch have a document
I will send this to you for distribution among the belgian root  participant and i propose a editing round before its publicised

1 Answer

+4 votes
In principle you use the spelling and capitalization of the name as stated in the Birthcertificate or the Baptism note. Prepositions in Belgium names started with a capital is common and should be written as such. So if the preposition in the name in the Birthcertificate begins with capital its begins also in the LNAB with a capital and so not... dont use capitals in the preposition.
by Joop van Belzen G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
edited by Joop van Belzen

What about when the birth certificate does both, as in this case?

Here's the case I'm facing. You can see the recorded last name at the top of the screenshot and the signature at the bottom. I've been unable to find Franciscus's birth certificate (this is his son's) as Puurs1820 is missing from the Rijksarchief scans.

I see what you mean.  In my opinion is the LNAB of the person in the Birthcertificate ''Decat''.

From his father, who signed, born in the Dutch period  is de LNAB ''de Cat''. Are you sure he is born in Puurs?

Maybe you can try https://zoekakten.nl to find more .

Met vriendelijke groet, Joop
Hi, I found the birtdate,  February 18, 1820, in an official index of Puurs. The Lastname there is noticed as De Cat..I add some of the information in the profile of Francois Dominique De Cat.


Mvg Joop

Thank you for finding that! Clearly I need to look beyond just the Rijksarchief.

So, on the more general question of which name to use, would you agree with the following?

  • The birth certificate (or similar, and when available) is the authoritative source for the LNAB. Any other spelling(s) goes in Current or Other.
  • Given a different spelling in the name of a person in the signature vs in the body text of a certificate, you would use the name in the body text?
Found the Birthcertificate of Francois and add it in his profile. Also here the official spells De Cat but the signature of the father, Jean Francois, looks like  Jdecat. The way the officer of the civil registry (Ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand) writing the name is officially. I think the signature is a sloppiness and  little meaning for the spelling. Its hard to read for me because its in the French language, so its up to you to determine the name of the mother.

Commonly use the offical spelling in the Birthcertificate or Baptism note for the LNAB. If you can't find it use the Certificate of Marriage, Deathcertificate in this order. Signatures are tricky because its depend how educated etc. the person was.

Greetings Joop

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