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Ancestors who adopted their middle name as common name.


Staff member

Many of our ancestors adopted their middle name as their first name. That can add to confusion for us researchers.

My greta, great grandmother was the most guilty of that. She was baptised Mary Ann Kate Roberts but was known throughout her life as Kate. Her father put her down on the 1871 census as a 7 year old as Kate Roberts. In an 1878 poor law record he used Kate as her name when listing his children. The 1881 census gave her as Mary AK Roberts.

In 1886 she put herslef down as Kate Roberts when she married and every one of her childrens birth certs she put her name down as Kate Coombs formerly Roberts. It was only my great grandmother than she put her name down as Catherine Coombs as the baby was called Catherine Isabella Coombs.

The 1891 and 1911 censuses have her down as Kate Coombs. The 1901 she is given Catherine Coombs as her name. In later life she gave her full name but was known throughout her life by her middle name of Kate. When she died she died as Mary Ann Catherine Coombs.

It happens in our family but the worst thing is family members who are called something which isn't in any records such as my grandmother Sam who is really Lillian.

I have an ancestor who was known as Flo her name was Emma Florinda but in the 1901 census became Florinda Emma so changed the order of her names it all adds to the confusion!

It happens my mum called herself Gay even named my sister Gay as a state ward finding out any thing is hard enough our birth c say George & Gay Cooper when I had the info to get there marriage c her name was Elsie no wonder we could never find her . At lest dad used his name which made finding him a lot easier[with a lot of help]
Have one branch were the eldest boy named as follows:
1st C- E-
2nd E- C-
3rd C- E-
they select names by 1st letter have this (so far) seven generations.
what is nuts all have nick names and do not go by given name.