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Name Change Variations

Name Change Variations

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 11:05AM GMT
Classification: Query
Is it out of the ordinary for men to sometimes change their names from John to Joseph or visa versa?

Have come across this a couple of times in census, but didn't really think that the name John & Joseph was a name that could be interchanged eg. John to Jack, which is quite common.

Re: Name Change Variations

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 1:01PM GMT
Classification: Query
I can't answer your question, but it's interesting that you should raise this point, as I've seen exactly the same thing in the censuses very recently. The person in question was Joseph Cotton Wigram, one time Bishop of Rochester, who appears in the 1861 census as John C. Wigram. I've not seen this before, and I agree it seems quite strange.

Christine

Re: Name Change Variations

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 1:47PM GMT
Classification: Query
Have seen this a lot - say you have a John Joseph, but everyone knows him as Joe/Joseph then the enumerator might just put that name onto the census form. Middle initials/names can be in one census and not another.

Re: Name Change Variations

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 9:38PM GMT
Classification: Query
John and Joseph are NOT interchangeable (which isn't to say no one ever changed their given name from one to the other---but it isn't a common change). However, if the person is of GERMANIC origin John (or Johan) could be a baptismal or Saints Name which isn't used in common everyday useage and the actual given name may well be Joseph. So for a German this could well be possible ... but the Johan/John name is considered more of a prename and not an actual given name.

Joan

Re: Name Change Variations

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 11:26PM GMT
Classification: Query
Some people don't like their original given name, so that might account for some switches.

But you also need to take in to account how census data was compiled. In the UK, the householder filled out the original 'Household Schedule' form, in handwriting of varying degrees of readability. This was then transcribed at a central point on to another form, the enumeration book, which is the form available to us now. This is why they appear relatively neat, and all in the same handwriting.

So, if the householder wrote 'Jos' (for Joseph) un-clearly, this might have been mis-transcribed as 'John' later.

I have come across mistakes in my own tree such as a man named James mis-recorded as Thomas. Exactly how that came about shall forever be a mystery.

So understanding an error may depend on things like in which country the census was taken in, or which year. It is worth understanding the methodology of data collection for whichever record you are contemplating.
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