Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's in a Name...

Beatrice - (Gaelic:"bringer of joy", "blesses").

November has given me two blessings named Beatrice in my lifetime, both who have brought a lot of joy into my life. The first was my mother and the second is my niece (her granddaughter and namesake).  With Beatrice not being the most common name, you'd think it would be easier to find records when looking back in the family tree.  Not quite the case when dealing with an Irish genealogy.  It was actually quite popular back in the day.

I had always heard Mom mention that she had been named after an aunt named Beatrice.  I'm still trying to find said relative, with no luck as of yet. Of course, with all the diminutives and nicknames, finding an ancestor's given name can be quite the quandry.  I can't tell you how many forms of Elizabeth i've tried  (Liza, Betty, Beth, Lizzie, just to name a few - and God only knows how they get Peggy from Margaret) in locating my grandfather's sister's records. Additionally, many folks went by their middle names rather than their first (which i'm finding to be the case with my grandmother's father). Don't let it discourage you though.  Determination wins out in the long run (from what they tell me).

Case in point is my grandfather's sister Helen.  All the census' for 1901 and 1911 the name was listed as Ellen.  When researching the census' themselves, i found that many of the census takers were from England and had a tough time understanding the Irish brogue.  Hence Helen became Ellen.  In 1911, they saw Ellen on the previous census and it continued in the census record.  It only clarified itself, when thanks to the aid of a cousin, we located a picture of sister Helen (who actually was a sister - nun that is).  Helen's archival record from the convent confirmed the date of  birth (which proved her to be the Ellen on the census).

Additionally, let's not forget naming traditions were used quite a bit more in times past.  First born sons were named after their grandfather many times (which can be quite useful when locating relatives further back in the tree).  Keep an eye out for similar names amongst the branches of the family as well.  They may lead you back to even further generations and uncover another whole set of names to look for.  And in genealogy, that's the name of the game!


Post a Comment