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Name changes in the 1800s

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#1
Did people change their first names in the 1800s?

I have a family member that has always been named David. His marriage certificate says David, his children's baptism's also named him David, However, I am unable to find any documents for David before his marriage and when looking into his parents a bit more, it looks like the only children they had were a William and a Lucy. So I am wondering if William changed his name to David.
I am so confused. This is why I am wondering if people changed their names in this period. I haven't come across this problem before.
Any help would be much appreciated.
 
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#3
Without more detail, it's hard to say what happened in your case. There were many reasons people changed names: bankruptcy, bigamy, breaking an apprenticeship, same name as father, etc.
Sometimes they simply may not have liked it.
 
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#4
Here is what I have so far...

David Bray - abt 1810 Ringmer, Sussex, England
Married: Hannah Parker (Waller) 24th December 1848, Portslade, Sussex
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DR53-V29?i=746
The marriage registrar states David’s father is John Bray.

The only John Bray I can find in the right area and time married Margaret Evans
However, when I search for children of John & Margaret I can only find
William John - 1809 https://www.ancestry.co.uk/discoveryui-content/view/87433178:9841
Lucy - 1811 https://www.ancestry.co.uk/discoveryui-content/view/1731406:9841
There are more children a few years later as well.


David appears on all censuses up to 1881 Just as David, no middle name.
His birth always calculates to abt 1810
And they all state he was born in Ringmer, Sussex

I have searched for baptisms in the whole of Sussex for David Bray from 1810 - 1848 when he got married to no avail.

David died: 10 May 1886 - Steyning Workhouse, Ham Road, Shoreham-By-Sea, Sussex, England of Chronic Bronchitis.
 
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ptjw7

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#6
Another possibility is that he was born as another surname ie :- as David Evans (mother Margaret Evans) or similar.
In such a case the person would assume the step fathers surname.
Worst case is when the mother was married before and from there its just guess work!
 
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#8
Another possibility is that he was born as another surname ie :- as David Evans (mother Margaret Evans) or similar.
In such a case the person would assume the step fathers surname.
Worst case is when the mother was married before and from there its just guess work!
Thank you for this. I didn't even think of that as a possibility. But If I have the correct parents, he would have been the second-born child, so he would be a bray like the others. I will definitely look into this more though because I might not have the correct parents.
 

juliejtp

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#9
1841 has a David Bray age 31 in Portslade - Steyning Union. Further up 2nd from top there is a Harriot Bray age 21. This is taken from a transcription not the actual image. Might be a coincidence that they have the same surname.
 
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#11
Looking at the freereg site, a Harriet Bray baptised 21 Dec 1820 , Ringmer - parents William and Sarah. I would think the Brays born in that area are related.
I saw that entry too and got excited, but when I found her parents were different I got a little disheartened. I have still kept note of them though just in case they are linked somehow.
There were a lot of Bray's in the area at this time. I know there are still Bray's in the area today as I grew up not far from they Bray's I am looking for and I went to school with a few of them.
 

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