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Magna Carta Project Datafield Guide

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Magna Carta Project | Project Checklist | Datafield Guide


Magna Carta Project Datafield Guide

Please be sure that whatever is in any datafield is supported in the text.

Name Fields

Remember that the spelling of names had not settled down in the period covered by the Magna Carta Project, and variant spellings - some perhaps surprising - can be found. Seek advice if you are uncertain what is best: consult the Project leadership team, or ask a question in the Project Google Group.

Do not use punctuation in the name fields apart from hyphens or apostrophes as part of a name or location, or commas to separate different names in the Other Nicknames and Other Last Names fields. Do not add a full stop (period) after an abbreviation in the prefix/suffix fields.

Guidance of Geographical projects

Please take account of the following guidance of geographical Projects:


  • Do not enter "Mr", "Mrs" or "Miss" in the prefix field.
  • "Sir": Use only where the person was knighted or a baronet. It should be used for people born before 1230 only where there is clear contemporary evidence. Note that Knights Bachelor - the most common type of knight for whom Sir is appropriate - did not come into existence before 1250.
    • Do not use Knight (or an abbreviation thereof) in the suffix field (see "Suffix Field" below).
    • Do not use "Sir" if the person has an aristocratic title in the Other Nicknames field.
    • If the person was a member of a higher order of knighthood, like Knight of the Bath or Knight of the Garter, "Sir" should go in the prefix field and the appropriate abbreviation in the suffix field
    • "Sir" was also sometimes used as a courtesy title for priests and some others: where this is so, it should not be in the prefix field.
  • Aristocratic titles (eg Earl of Leicester, Lord of Dunmow) belong in the Other Nicknames field.
  • For knights' and baronets' wives, do not include "Lady" in the prefix field.
  • Do not add temporary positions or posts to the prefix field.
  • Military rank - enter the highest rank attained.
  • "Reverend": use the abbreviation "Rev".
  • "Dr": the few Magna Carta Project profiles for doctors should use the abbreviation "Dr" in the prefix field instead of "MD" in the suffix field.
  • "Governor": spell out. If Lieutenant Governor or Deputy Governor, abbreviate "Lt Gov" or "Dep Gov".

Proper First Name

  • Do not use officially recorded Latin versions of the name. Use English, French, etc. versions. Variant spellings can be noted either in the nicknames field or the biography.

Other Nicknames

  • Aristocratic titles belong here.
    • For aristocratic titles, include the number with the title (for instance, "3rd Earl of Arundel").
      • Some titles were created more than once and as a result different reliable sources may legitimately have different numbers - explain the differences in the text (for instance, one source may have 1st, but mean 1st of the 4th creation of the title and another source that does not restart the count for each creation may have 9th). Where sources do the counting on different bases, follow the numbering system of Cokayne's The Complete Peerage (2nd edition): there is a WikiTree source page, with weblinks, (here).
        • If in doubt, consult a member of the Project leadership team, or ask a question in the Project Google Group or G2G.
        • If Douglas Richardson or Wikipedia use a different number from the revised version of The Complete Peerage, mention that in the text with a citation.
    • "Lady": up to the 1500s, Lady was reserved for daughters of kings, and they were called "the Lady".
  • Some people had multiple titles. Use the one or two titles by which they are generally known. Other titles can be mentioned in the biography.
    • Note that "lord of such-and-such a place" is generally not a title. It usually just means that someone held a manor, and not that they were a peer.
    • Lands held should be in the biography. They do not belong in the Other Nicknames field. If someone is described as being "of such-and-such a place" in the Other Nicknames field, this should be transferred to the biography.
  • In general, do not include job titles in the Other Nicknames field - they should just be in the text. An exception can be made where someone is best known by their job title.
  • Separate multiple nicknames with a comma.

Middle Names

  • Middle names are extremely rare for profiles of the period covered by the Project. A middle name on a pre-1700 profile is frequently an indication of a mistake. Check sources carefully to see if there is contemporary reliable evidence.

Last Name at Birth

  • Last names came in during the Middle Ages. For the earlier profiles managed by the Project, they are often an artificial construct, but a necessary one. In general accept what is already on the profile.
  • Do not use Latin forms of last names. Be aware that in the medieval period some last names were translated into Latin in some records - eg "de Bello Campo" for "de Beauchamp".
  • Do not include "de", "du", "le", "la" or "de la" before a surname in the LNAB field; it goes with the surname in the Current Last Name field.
    • Two exceptions to this are "de Vere’"and "de la Mare", which should go in the LNAB field in full.
  • "St" stays with the surname: for example, "St John" goes in the LNAB field, and St is not dropped nor separated out into the prefix field. There is no full stop after "St".
  • Fitz- names should be written with mid-caps, that is, a capital letter for the father's name. For example, write "FitzRobert" not "Fitz Robert" or "Fitz-Robert".
    • Until adopted as a surname, names with "Fitz" may change every generation, since it means son of and the second part is the father's given name. For example, Robert FitzHugh is "Robert son of Hugh" and his son John would be John FitzRobert, not John FitzHugh, unless Robert had adopted FitzHugh as a surname and had John baptized as John FitzHugh.

Current Last Name

  • Include "de", "du", "le", "la" or "de la" before the surname if that is how someone was known.
    • "de" was dropped in the later middle ages, so a parent may have a current last name which includes "de" while children do not have the "de". Two exceptions to this are again "de Vere’"and "de la Mare": these families retained the "de" and "de la".

Other Last Names

  • Commonly found variant spellings of the last name can go here, but where there are many different spellings, there is no need to include them all.
  • Where successive marriages mean that a woman had more than one married name, include the earlier married names here.


  • For English profiles, do not use generational numbering for given names repeated in successive generations.
  • For English profiles, do not use Senior or Junior in the suffix box. They can be used for profiles of immigrants to America, abbreviated as "Sr" and "Jr", but only if there is contemporary evidence for their use.
  • "Esq" and "Gent" are acceptable for gentry where there is contemporary evidence, or evidence in Visitations, of their being used for the person. They should never be used for nobility, and came into general use during the 16th century: "Gent" in particular is not appropriate earlier. These suffixes are more commonly used in America.
  • Do not use Knight, Kt or Knt in the suffix field.
    • Where someone was a member of one of the higher orders of knighthood, the appropriate abbreviation should be used: eg KB for Knight of the Bath and KG for Knight of the Garter
    • Ordinary Knights were Knights Bachelor, which is not abbreviated KB, and they should have nothing relating to their knighthood in the suffix field.
  • For Baronets, include Bt in the suffix field
  • For Members of Parliament, MP can be included as a suffix.
  • Do not put job titles in the Suffix field.

Date Fields

  • Dates should be in the format day-month-year. Spell out the date in full (including the full word for the month) in the Biography.
  • Ideally, use primary sources for dates. In practice, these will often be unavailable. Where this is so, give estimates if you can, with an explanation in the biography - and it is usually better to use a rounded number to avoid giving a misleading impression of accuracy.
  • Do not use the {{Estimated Date}} template for births and deaths unless the dates are unevidenced guesstimates. The template should not normally be used where a birth or death is "before” or "after" a date, with a source for that.
  • For the period covered by the Project, years in many records do not coincide with the calendar year.
    • They may be regnal years, which may start late in the calendar year, or legal years, which start in October.
    • Until the change of calendar in 1752, the year was commonly regarded as starting on 25 March, and this is generally reflected in parish registers.
    • Up to 1752, Quakers and some non-conformist groups used 1st month for March, with 12th month being the following February.

Place Fields

  • Use modern spelling of place names.
  • The information in the dropdown list when editing a place datafield is sometimes problematic. England Project has location teams that can help. Check colonial pre-1700 projects for help with American locations (for example, the US Southern Colonies Project Virginia Team).
  • With one exception, the word "county" is not used when naming a county in Britain ("Essex" is just "Essex", not "Essex County"). The exception is "County Durham" which should always be entered as such, and not just "Durham" which is a city within County Durham.
  • For American counties, "county" comes after the county name: for instance, Essex County, Virginia.
  • Do not abbreviate either County or the county name.


Comments: 11

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In the titles section, it needs to be made clear that we follow the numbering system of [ Complete Peerage to solve any disputes. There is too much inconsistency in how numbering titles is handled (especially on wikipedia) and Complete Peerage should be taken as the gold standard.
posted by Joe Cochoit
Thanks, Joe, for pointing that out. I have amended, and I hope done so correctly. If you think further tweaking is called for, please message or email me.
posted by Michael Cayley