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Informal adoption


Active member
Leamington, Ontario
I knew my great-grandfather as William McGown. It is the name he used and his children as well. When researching the family history (he was born in Glasgow, Lanarkshire) I had a great deal of difficulty finding out anything re: his birth (ca 1860), but could find him on the 1871 census in the home of (I thought) his father, Andrew McGown and his second wife, Margaret Lang McGown. Well, as it turned out, great-grandpa William was actually the illegitimate son of Margaret Lang and apparently took his step-father's name upon his mother's marriage. It solved so many questions once I found this out...and the pieces fell quickly into place (although I have admittedly had a little trouble adjusting to the fact that, genetically, we have no McGown ties...and, yes, I am reasonably sure that Andrew McGown was NOT his father...). I understand there would have been no formal adoption at that point in time. Would this practice (of taking on a step-father's name) have been common?

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