LNAB for Kit / Christopher / Christoffel Davids / Davis

+7 votes

I have collected a lot of information and records for Christopher "Kit" Davids, who is my 10x great-grandfather. I am going to be adding everything I have, and I intend to use the Davids-11 profile. I believe Kit's last name was either Davids or Davis at birth as we know he was born in England (he testified as such in Fort Orange / Albany court in 1658). In New Netherlands records, he is commonly called Dutch interpretations of his name like "Davits," "Davidtz," and even "Davidsen" - none of which I believe were names he was born with. He is most commonly recorded as "Davids" and his children all seem to have taken this so it is the name I attribute to him. I suspect though that he may likely have been born "Davis" and adopted the name "Davids" in the Dutch Colony where he ended up...

So here are my questions:

  • First of all, does anyone have any evidence about Kit that points to his English ancestry that could help identify him as either Davis or Davids?
  • In the mean time, I am proposing merges of "Davits" and other Dutch names into the Davids-11 profile, but I do not believe any of the "Davis" profiles for Kit (of which there are a few) should be merged yet. Does anyone disagree with this approach?
  • If in fact, Kit's own LNAB was "Davis" and he died going by "Davids," which all his children also took, what is the right way to manage his profile?

I'm fairly new to wikitree and love the concept. There are a lot of nuances to get used to though and this is my first real investment in a profile and I don't want to screw it up. Especially given all the recent fuss on the New Netherlands project with bad merges.

WikiTree profile: Kit Davids
in Policy and Style by Jeremy Kidd G2G2 (2.5k points)

Excellent post Jeremy!

Davids-11 has already been set as the final WikiTree ID. I'll leave Davids-11 as is for now, but let me know if y'all decide to go with Davis instead. Generally, if you have a reliable birth or christening record, that's the spelling/stying of the name that should be used. However, I also support using the name that the person used himself/herself over most of their lifetime. comment on bullet one: So your first bulleted question is "spot on" :D

comment on bullet two: Short version: I think in this case, since Davids came about because of the Dutch version Davits, that Davis as LNAB might be more appropriate.  Long (really long) version: I agree that "Davits" isn't really appropriate as his LNAB and those profiles can be merged into Davids-11, which should have Davits added to the "Other last name(s)" field and an explanation in the bio section. It's also prudent to not merge away Davis yet. (Each merge results in a "redirect" that can cause problems when you get a string of them - see here for details). Background: If all duplicate profiles NOT Davis go directly into Davids-11 and all Davis duplicates go directly into the lowest-numbered Davis profile, that's only one redirect for each profile. If Davids-11 and Davis are then merged, that's two, and not really a problem.

For duplicates of Kit that you believe will be merged into Davids-11 after review, add the "Merge Compare" template at the top of their profiles - {{New Netherland Merge Compare|signature=~~~~}} and set them as an unmerged match so that they're easily found but don't get default approval to be merged in 30 days (which proposing a merge would do).

comment on bullet three: WikiTree guidelines recommend in this situation: Davis as LNAB; Davids as Current last name; Davits as Other last name(s). However, I usually see that folks prefer to go with the more recognizable (used during his or her lifetime) last name for the WikiTree ID, which is based on the LNAB field, and include the birth name that the person really didn't use as an Other last name. This is where discussion among descendants can sway the guideline slightly toward the latter - Davids - as LNAB, or not (going instead with Davis as LNAB). I don't feel strongly one way or another, so long as both names are included in a name field - LNAB, Current, or Other - and an explanation is in the biography section.  Speaking of which, I see that Davids-11 doesn't seem to have been edited post-merges. Let me know if you'd like me to do a "first wash" edit & I will.

Thanks for asking, and making it to the end of this overlong comment! cheeky


Christopher Davis (1913) is the only Davis variant that I can find. No Kit.
Jeremy tells us there are others, but I cannot see any.
But Liz, how would making Davis a common LNAB to merge those duplicates, if any, as you suggest above, into fit in our new system?
As I see it, we would have to avoid red-tagging any of the Davis profiles altogether, and then simply let them merge into each other.
But then we will end up with a single Davis profile, unprotected, such as the one above, which would then be in danger of getting merged away into the protected NNS Davids profile.
So, how do we best organize for a situation like this, as we try to continue to  resolve Davids vs. Davis?
So should we now simply just go ahead and red-tag this Davis-1913 above, as well as any other Davis matches that we can find?

Liz - No need to do the first wash. It's on my list to clean the profile up.

Liz & Steven - Thanks for the replies. I've got to say, I'm not happy with myself for exposing a shortcoming in the naming system. With all the effort and complexity that's gone into it, it's almost shocking that there is still something it doesn't cover! I'm not sure I would suggest modifying the coding to handle this situation as you're nearly out of colors. ;-) Seriously though, I think the Davis-1913 profile should get a green and the others a red, and a note goes into the Davis-1913 and Davids-11 profiles cross-linking and mentioning the ongoing research. (I think I will do that now as a matter of fact.)

As to other Kit Davis profiles, it seems there is only one other Davis profile - Davis-21075. I thought I saw others. I also have a book that refers to him as "Kit Davis" which I may have also had in mind thinking there were more...

   - Jeremy


Plan is to merge Davids-11 into Davis-1913 July 1, 2014. Messages have been posted on both profiles. Thanks, Liz
Agree this is the best approach, Liz. Thanks for your (and Philip's) guidance and patience! Now to find an English birth certificate for this guy...

1 Answer

0 votes
I am a direct descendant of KIT. The name is Devins and has been for over 100 years or more please refer to the book Abraham Devins and his descendants in Canada. In the book "the silent canoe" there is also a reference to our patriarch as Kit Christoffel Davidz but not from English decent but of Prussian.

Hello, Mr. Devins. It's interesting to see how our modern understanding of surnames as a permanent element of our family identity can collide with the historical record that shows that surnames were fungible in past centuries.

One of my family names is Clark; my family would insist that the name is spelled Clark and has always been Clark. However, my great-great grandfather's brother spelled the name Clarke, and his descendants use the Clarke spelling for their ancestry (same people as my Clark ancestors) as far back as it is traced. The truth is that both spellings appear in old records.

Rather than extending modern spellings into the distant past (making it inevitable that conflicts would arise between descendants like my Clarke cousins and me), WikiTree has chosen to use records contemporary with a person's life as the basis for determining how the name was spelled in their lifetime -- and we identify the person by those names.

I trace ancestry to Christopher D. through his daughter Deborah, so although he's my ancestor my family doesn't have any family tradition regarding his name.  It's interesting that your family identifies Christopher D. as "Devins," since that's a name that WikiTreers haven't recorded for him. Do you have contemporary sources for that? The historical accounts documented here indicate that he was English and named Davis, but in New Netherland he was called Davids, Davidts, etc.

PS - Do you trace your ancestry to Peren Devins?

Yes we are the descendants of his son Abraham Devins via his son Isaac Devins- Abraham is the son of Terrenz Devin and Marya Kuykendal.
We are the descendants of Isaac Devins who was the son of Abraham Devins and Abraham was the son of Terrenz Devin and Marya Kuykendal.
I am a seventh great granddaughter of Kits, if I can prove my Sabina Malahan is in fact the same person as Weyntje Schoonover - and I look forward to more sources on this - we all have to learn that lesson about names being fluid through time - at first it is shocking and then just annoying, but as you get used to it you see it as an evolution of sorts

Related questions

+6 votes
0 answers
71 views asked Feb 26, 2018 in Genealogy Help by Janice Coleman
0 votes
0 answers
50 views asked Oct 2, 2020 in Genealogy Help by S Odom G2G Crew (910 points)
+7 votes
1 answer
+3 votes
1 answer
48 views asked 4 days ago in Genealogy Help by m Davis G2G Crew (640 points)
+1 vote
1 answer

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright