Given/First Names in profiles 1700s, early 1800s?

+2 votes

More often than not, we are unable to find a primary source for a given first name at birth - or during life (signature on a document, for example). We may have a town record where it is spelled several different ways, depending on the spelling ability or ear of the clerk who entered it, on birth, marriage,or other events. Here's the late 1700s example that triggered this question: Her birth was entered in the town record as Hephzebath. Her marriage was entered as Hephzebeth and Hephzabeth.  A 1900 genealogy uses Hepzibah for birth and Hepsibeth for marriage. Her profile is for Hepzibah. Her name on her gravestone, and also on her gravestone, is Hepzibeth. She also has a granddaughter whose gravestone is Hepzibeth P (which is likely for her grandmother's LNAB Phelps.)

I am inclined to correct her profile to read Hepzibeth, and mention the alternatives as set forth in the town records. Inviting opinions for or against, and other suggestions.

asked in Genealogy Help by Jim Parish G2G6 Pilot (124k points)

These are just my thoughts, I tend to think that people today are not that much different than our ancestors were. Most people would use the common spelling of the given name. (In this case that would be Hepzibeth.) 

There are few people who would insist on a variant and in that case, it probably would have made it to the gravestone.

As you noted we often run into different spellings for different records, your concern appears to be because of the published genealogy, but you shouldn't be because as we know, that's pretty far down the source chain.


1 Answer

+6 votes
The 1900 genealogy is probably the weakest evidence for the name unless it was well sourced (likely no sources).  I would trust the gravestones more than town clerk given more than one use the same spelling. Are there any relatives with an alternate spelling?
answered by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (196k points)
Were the two gravestones put up about the same time or were they contemporaneous with their deaths? If at same time the become less supportive of a spelling.
I would also go with the gravestone spelling, if the gravestones were put up at the times of the respective deaths. At least then the spelling would (probably?) be closer to what the person preferred, if they were literate. That's usually my reasoning, anyway, if I can't find any records in the person's own hand.
Thanks, Doug. I believed the 1900 genealogy was to be taken with a grain of salt; in fact, I'm about to ask a more specific question that arises from what I believe is a separate error in that same book.

The gravestones are 20 years apart, which I believe does give them more credence. Found no relative with an alternate spelling, so I concur with your opinion to rely on the gravestone spelling.

Related questions

+5 votes
2 answers
+8 votes
2 answers
75 views asked Nov 22, 2017 in WikiTree Tech by Wendy Scott G2G2 (2.6k points)
+2 votes
1 answer
+3 votes
7 answers
162 views asked Oct 10 in Policy and Style by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
+7 votes
3 answers
113 views asked Mar 31 in The Tree House by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Mach 4 (42k points)
+5 votes
3 answers
+4 votes
1 answer
+7 votes
0 answers

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright