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What Proof to Access Name Change?

What Proof to Access Name Change?

Posted: 15 Jul 2012 4:54AM GMT
Classification: Query
I've been researching my own family tree for 30+ years, and now my 20yo niece wants to know about her father's side. I started a tree for her to get her interested in genealogy, and we're OK with her father's mother 's side, but we only know the names of her father & his father. That grandfather had some kind of serious falling-out with his own father, changed his name & never saw or spoke to him again. My BIL is not sure of his own ethnic background.

Seeing all the names & faces on my tree prompted my niece to start crying on my shoulder because she didn't know her own grandfather, his father, or her real surname. I assume that she would have to be the one to legally access any name change records. I'm trying to get her to really talk about this with her own dad & see what he can recall from his memory bank, but there has been a lot of family dysfunction & suicide, so he doesn't like to remember.

So if she wants to figure out who her grandfather & his family were, how does she start & what documents does she need? Thanks for any suggestions.

Re: What Proof to Access Name Change?

Posted: 16 Jul 2012 9:35PM GMT
Classification: Query
You do not say which country or date you are talking about so it is difficut to pass any opinion.However, if you are talking about the UK you need to remember that it is not illegal to call yourself anything you like as long as it is not done with intent to defraud - so in that case he could just have decided to become John Jones instead of Bill Smith and there would be no documents at all. In modern times he would presumably have to have things like his NHS and Natioal Insurance number in his own name, but I am not sure about those details - for anything else he could be who he liked.

Re: What Proof to Access Name Change?

Posted: 16 Jul 2012 11:23PM GMT
Classification: Query
Sorry, this would be in the US. Grandpa Irving ???? was born ~1925 in New York or New Jersey, not sure which. I assume Social Security and IRS would be involved with a name change, as well the state. My sister legally changed her first name from Cathy to Kathi, and I think she had to go to the county seat to do it. After I was divorced, I also had to file papers to drop the ex's surname which I rarely used.

I don't believe you can just switch from Jones to Smith and back again willy-nilly, I think you have a "legal name" for signing legal paperwork. Margaret can use "Peggy" every day & have it on her lapel card, but she can't get married w/ Peggy or file her income tax that way. Irving can't just decide he likes the name "Berlin" & begin presenting himself w/ that name unless he jumps thru some hoops, right?

Re: What Proof to Access Name Change?

Posted: 17 Jul 2012 6:41AM GMT
Classification: Query
As I said, I was talking about the UK and obviously it is different in different countries about which I know nothing.

Re: What Proof to Access Name Change?

Posted: 18 Jul 2012 9:25PM GMT
Classification: Query
Actually, many people changed their name without going through any legalities. It all depends upon the time and location. Many states did not require birth or death records until the late 1920's. Even then implementation was not consistent in counties within states.

The NE states probably have the oldest records. But even then it was fairly easy to "reinvent" yourself. Just move away for a while and return to a different location with your new identity from a southern or western state. Start paying taxes under the new name and you are covered.

Social Security began January 1937. I'd guess that after that it became a bit more difficult to change names. Prior to 1937, it probably was willy-nilly.

Try searching 1920, 1930 and soon 1940 censuses using the first name and date of birth. You might find him, but it's a needle in a haystack.

Rel@ively,
Patrice
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