I am not a fan of LNAB, as most people 200 years ago could not read or write. See attached example

+5 votes

Example: Baptism record for same person, same parents, same DOB, same witness, but obviously the record had be rewritten at some point - now Sarah Magareth becomes Sarah - so which is the LNAB??

"South Africa, Netherdutch Reformed Church Registers (Pretoria Archive), 1838-1991", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:4M98-8V2M : 16 December 2019), Martha Johanna Naudé in entry for Sarah Magareth Burger, 1951.

"South Africa, Netherdutch Reformed Church Registers (Pretoria Archive), 1838-1991", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:49LC-S23Z : 16 December 2019), Martha Johanna Naudé in entry for Sarah Burger, 1951.

in Policy and Style by Liz Uys G2G Crew (700 points)
retagged by Steven Harris
I find the assertion that "most people 200 years ago were illiterate" to be somewhat curious? The majority of 17th century ancestors I've identified were literate (based on things like wills being signed with a signature rather than a mark, and bequests that include books) let alone early 19th century.  The literacy rate in England and the American colonies was around 60% by 1700 and 85% in the Netherlands by 1750.
Variability in spelling has nothing to do with illiteracy.  The people who wrote the records didn't know how to spell their own names either.

But many people can't seem to imagine a time when the concept of correct spelling hadn't been invented.

Which certainly does create huge problems for having surname-based IDs.
Nowadays kids in kindergarten/1st grade are encouraged to use "inventive spelling" to write stories. Try looking at this in terms of what matters is the name as it is heard, no matter how it is spelled as long as it sounds recognizable.

Since we try to base our profiles on primary sources as much as possible, spelling differences only become important when somebody creates duplicates because their genealogy is not relying on primary sources but "cleaned up" secondary ones.

Oops, I seem to have upset some people.

With limited characters available to state my problem, I left out some things.  When I said LNAB, I also meant first names, and anything else we use to identify a person.  I have previously been reprimanded by some members because I misspelt names (or surnames).  So to illustate this, I attached an EXAMPLE - just an example - of how sometimes the earliest written record of a person's name (and surname) is not in fact correct.  At no point did I suggest that 200 years ago all people were illiterateI was referring to the many many documents in the South African archives which made provision for a person's signature or mark, suggesting that indeed the authorities were aware of the fact that most people could not read (except maybe the Family Bible, which would have been in Dutch) or perhaps could not write (except maybe their own names).  Farmers travelling to town to have their children registered, or to get married, relied on the scribe to record names correctly. As the scribe heard it.  I have for example found the surname Le Roux recorded as Le Rouks. I have found many cases where a person's baptism shows certain names, but throughout the rest of the person's life, other variations of the names are used - Abram becomes Abraham, Nicolaas becomes Nicolas, Frederik becomes Frederick, or indeed Frederik Nicolaas becomes Nicolas Frederick!

So thank you to those people who saw my question for what it was, and thank you for the valuable answers received.

There is often an ill-warranted focus on which name forms happen to be in the first records, like a book of births or baptisms. Looking at records from before standardized spelling that can vary a lot. If a Swede "changes" name from Pehr to Per or Pär when moving to a new parish it's not because of a change of preference but because there is a new record-taker who uses different spellings, and if the book of baptisms for the same Per says "Petrus" instead it's not because that child initially was called Petrus instead of Per but because the priest who wrote that thought that the Latin name form better suited this solemn occasion. Many Swedish genealogists therefore standardize names a lot to the most standard version (like "Per" in that case), often with an exception for "book people" who we have written records from and can see that they themselves preferred a particular version of their name. (It is certainly the same in many places – I use Sweden as example because that's what I know of.)
"I cannot respect a man who only spells a word one way."--Pres. Andrew Jackson

"Correct" spelling came in with the advent of Webster's Dictionary in the early 1800's in the USA.  Webster deliberately spelled many words differently from the accepted British spellings.

The National Archives have a sound-based orthographic system for names.  The LNAB Nazis should refer themselves to it.  Shouldn't the LNAB be spelled the way it was entered into the original birth record?
Stem 100% saam . I was born in 1952 not 200 years ago, although it sound different  if you say I was born in the last half, of the last century of the last millennium . My father registered my name as Carl in 1952, I was baptized as Karl in 1952 and was registered as a school student as Karel in 1957 . .

These were all done by highly schooled people ?
So, a German walks into a Dutch church and speaks his name to the Scottish Dominee ...

The Groote Kerk in Cape Town (sorry, Tafel Valleij) had an interesting system where they required a written form listing the name of the child, the names of the parents and of the witnesses to be submitted before a baptism. That form was transcribed into the register record.

And, yes, it depends. My Johannes Louw ancestors are all "Johannis" in the Durbanville register, while my Germans are "Wahl" in the Lutheran register but "Waal" in Drakenstein.  - Keith
Its not just spelling of LNAB, its the spelling of names in general on South African documents. Too much emphasis is being placed on 'correct' spelling of names which to my mind, is akin to missing the wood for trees. So what if one man had 5 different spellings of his name, as long as we can agree its the SAME man.

To much emphasis is placed on original birth records - is genealogy limited to a privileged few? It is especially complicated for black South Africans, many who arrived on those very same ships as the European settlers but do not have the luxury of a Dutch Reformed Church baptismal record. Or any church record for that matter. Many births and unions went unrecorded. But here I am. I exist.

It is because there is no one spelling (what you may call "correct" spelling) of a surname in one lifetime of a person say three hundred years ago, that we resort to a standard for merging the many duplicates made in the past - the name as written in the baptism record. This is the only way we can make the single tree idea work. It was only somewhere during the 19th century that (speaking for South Africa) that last names got standardised. As for your remark about 'black' people - I think you mean 'slaves' (the other 'black' first nations did not arrive by ship but were already present and were 'settled', and their populations mixed in with the enslaved populations - see: http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/) - many have also been baptised. You are correct though in that many more slave births and baptisms went unrecorded. And yes indeed - here we are. And we exist. 

Hi Phillip, I agree that a standard is required for merging purposes but I disagree that the names on the baptism record should be that standard. For example, I have church baptism records of ancestors and in one family, the surname was spelt in 3 different ways for different family members.

If I could be so bold as to suggest, it may be more useful to issue a governing document on South African surnames for wiki purposes - that way we can all reference that document. The governing document would, of course, take into account all the known variations in spelling. Also the name studies option on wiki is also quite good. I collaborate and contribute the the Hess Name Study, for obvious reasons, and the project leader has created a special country category for South Africa. The name studies landing page can be used as governing policy for contentious South African surnames. I have not found this wiki option widely used by fellow South Africans?

By black I mean all persons of colour in South Africa, whether brought here as slaves on ships or indigenous. Registrations of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and transfer of ownership of deeds is hugely problematic for black South Africans.
Hi Liz, I totally get where you are coming from.
Louise, it has been suggested in the past - a kind of index (again - see http://www.e-family.co.za/ffy/). Such a 'document' however would be a gigantic undertaking, having to cover more than 60000 profiles. And it is not an option when a process already has been decided on, and harmonisation itself is already an issue. We - and WikiTree - have chosen for the LNAB to be based on the spelling of the baptismal entry. The issue of culture is not limited to SA alone. There are many discussions on the first nation spellings in North America, and the non-European alphabets. Let's first just get this one project (speaking specifically of the Cape of Good Hope or Dutch Cape Colony now 1652 {and prior as far as progenitors go} to 1806 - the South African Roots 1807 to current day is already much more harmonised) validated, which also implies the parent connections.

4 Answers

+8 votes

I am not a fan of LNAB, as most people 200 years ago could not read or write.

While this is true, it does not mean that a LNAB did not exist...

...so which is the LNAB??

Just to be clear, I am seeing in both records that the LNAB shows to be Burger, the same as her father. Magareth appears to be a second/middle name that was added later (in '57?).

It would be helpful is someone could translate the addition (I have edited your question to attract the attention of those who can help).

by Steven Harris G2G6 Pilot (609k points)
Thanks Steve.  The addition says "Volgens Geb Sertifikaat" which means "according to birth certificate", so presumably the second name was added in 1957 when the parents realised that the baptism register does not correspond with the birth cerrtificate.

Thanks for your input
I also understand that many people were only given "middle" names After a religious or coming of age event.
+11 votes
The first name was corrected by the "Sinode" in 1957 after a mistake was made at the baptismal in the first entry.

The scribe reference is the birth certificate presented to the "sinode" probably by her parents asking for the change of the first name. dd and signed to make it official

So Sarah was amended to Sarah Margaretha and not the other way round  If you look in the "Notule" of that church you will  find the correspondence thereof.

The LNAB we refer to is the surname and the first name change did not interfere with the LNAB (surname) of the child ie: Burger  

As this is an rather recent change  (1951)  we can assume that both the church record holders and scribes was able to read, wright and spell and I would therefore not  worry to much about their ability :-))
by Ronel Olivier G2G6 Mach 9 (94.0k points)
Dankie Ronel

As I have said, this was only an example to illustrate the fact that initial records did not always reflect people's actual names - first names or last names at birth.  My dad was baptised Frederick because that's how the church scribe decided to spell it, but he was registered as Frederik because that's how my grandparents chose to spell it.

But thanks for your explanation, that really makes sense, and I will keep her names as Sarah Magareth for my own family tree purposes.
+3 votes
Over the past two years I have been entering family trees of Acklams/Ackloms and  Lamplughs/Lamploughs/Lamplews.  It has become increasingly clear to me that before 1800 the different spellings are the choice of the local Parish Clerks and nothing to do with the individuals or their parents. At one marriage the clerk's entry said Lamplough but three different individuals signed Lamplugh.

Among the Ackloms the aristocracy and gentry seem themselves to have signed Acklom or Acklome but the clerks did not necessarily agree.

Tradesmen, shopkeepers and labourers, especially after 1800 generally found that the clerk spelt their name Acklam which was now the accepted spelling for the distant village.

At present I have used Lamplugh consistently for members of the family before 1850, which is the period I have concentrated on.

For the Acklams/Ackloms I have an unreasonable patchwork which I intend to rationalise:  I do not find it helpful to have an Acklam whose ancestors and most of whose children are Ackloms.

There is a further problem before 1600 when one man may have his name spelt several ways even in the same paragraph.
by David Horsley G2G6 (9.2k points)
David, the only problem I see is that you develop your own private naming convention which would be fine as long as nobody else is developing their own private system for the same family. The end result would be numerous duplicates with fights over whose private naming convention is the right one. In those cases, when actual primary sources are available, the tendency of many people here would be to go with the primary source.

Take as an example the French Canadian experience: the most accessible (secondary) source is perhaps Tanguay who standardized the family names of his listings. Just a little while later Jetté did the same but his names are somewhat different. So we have several duplicates for Augé/Auger and end up having to go to the primary (baptismal) record to sort it out.

I guess what I want to say is we need a standard that can apply to everybody contributing to one common tree, and unless somebody can come up with something better, the primary source looks still the best to me.
+1 vote
There is nothing that says that a persons name at birth is the only way their name can be recorded. Last Name at Birth can be different from their relations, (Parents, Siblings or Children) as long as the family connections are made on Wikitree to keep the family group together. There is also multiple options for us on Wikitree to record the different name variants if they arise.

If you ignore the variant options and standardise the names then you run the risk of not finding relevant sources because you won't look for variant spellings.

Personally I have found Baptism records with only the Family name recorded, Birth Certificates with no First name recorded, Given names switched around on Census records or Marriage records, Nicknames used on Death certificates and many more variants because i didn't blind myself to one option for the persons name.

Names can be different but as responsible Wikitreers we just need to record the variants so duplicates can be prevented or identified and merged. There is nothing preventing us recording any variants in name structure we may discover.
by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (242k points)
I agree that the birth certificate is the core source for a tree . So it happens that Schepers changed in a few children Scheepers and a few stayed Schepers (same pronunciation) . But I found that in the older records, that the father's LNAB is spelled Scheepers a few children revert back to Schepers and the others are Scheepers . The marriage and death records of these Schepers children all revered to Scheepers and their children's LNAB are all registered as Scheepers . The same to le Roux and Leroux and a few others .

To me this is just common spelling errors and if I for instance go to my Watchlist where I check that I do not make duplicates, then it happen that I can, and make a duplicate on ground of the LNAB spelling error, and using the Marriage or Death records as a source with a guess at the birth date . This occurs the world over and not just in South Africa .

Now the Data Doctors changed it back to the original LNAB and really confuse the issue more . What I do then, is I wipe the birth record from the Profile and change it back to the Known name . This is a SPELLING error and should not be used as his REAL NAME !

Thank you,


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