Identifying Photos

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where do they get the names?

I have had my searches blocked because someone has given a wrong name on an official document of some kind. This leads me to wonder why and broadening searches so far still have not answered the question.

First off Benjamin Woodhead and his brother John, both came and settled in Melbourne and did quite well for themselves. Both were well educated and knew how to make money. So why is it that on John's marriage and death certificates he has named his mother Fanny Hobson? I can understand the discrepancies on Death Certificates, depending on who gives the information also depends on what they know of the person they are giving the information for. But on a marriage certificate?

I have spent years trying to find Fanny Hobson but gave up. Then I realised that John Woodhead (Snr) had married a Fanny Mellor about that time. Then there are a number of children to John and Fanny (no maiden name). There was a christening of a John Woodhead about the same time as our John (Jr) in Pennistone, just up the road from Almondbury, the mother is listed as Fanny Mellor.

Then I got John's marriage certificate and found that he was born in Pennistone. The 1851 census for my John and Fanny and children then confirms that Mary and John were born in Pennistone. There are too many co-incidences between John and Fanny Hobson and John and Fanny Mellor not to believe the two are one and the same person. Also there is only ever one John and Fanny that can be found in the census.

My guess is that maybe Fanny's Mother may have married a Hobson along the way somewhere, and the boys realising their grandmother was a Hobson assumed their mother was too? The search on this one goes on.

Then the next generation. Alfred Woodhead (Benjamin's son) was born 22 July 1848. On His marriage certificate he names his mother as Sarah Taylor. Years of looking for Sarah was found to be rather elusive. I did find a marriage for Sarah and Benjamin and sent for the certificate, certain this was them, in the hope of finding Sarah's Father and maybe getting a lead on the family. However when the certificate came I found that Benjamin's occupation was incorrect, his father's name was Joseph and not John, and his occupation was also different, to top it off I found that Ben was illiterate and signed with an X.

After Ben's first wife died he remarried Sarah Clarke. I sent for this certificate which had all the correct details as I knew them, Benjamin Woodhead, joiner, his father John,  a dyer, and he signed his name.

Recently Family Search has updated a number of details found in their records. Among these was the marriage of Benjamin Woodhead to Isabella Jenkinson. It lists his father as John. I had a look for Isabella's death and found she had died in Kendal, where Benjamin married Sarah Clarke a few months later, the only discrepancy was that she appeared to have died a few months before the date of birth we had for her son Alfred. We have never been able to find a birth registration for Alfred and the date we had came from his daughter's birthday book.

I took a punt and send for the marriage certificate. It was the right one, all the details matched those on Benjamin's second marriage certificate. Apparently Alfred was born a year before, and when I checked his certificates and the ages on them this all worked out to be correct.

This still poses the question why did Benjamin and John believe their mother to be Fanny Hobson when she was Fanny Mellor, and why did Alfred believe his mother was Sarah Taylor?  Guess these are ones we may never really know the answers to.

Further to the above, I have just found Alfred's birth and Christening. He was in fact Alfred Townley Woodhead. It is the first I have heard of the Townley name and no idea where it has come from. It sounds like he has been named after someone.

Also on his christening his grandparents are named as his parents. My thoughts on this? His father has taken him to be christened and has been asked what the parents names are and he has given his parents. I know it is the right person as the address is correct and father's occupation and I did have Alfred's birth date which is also listed on the christening certificate.
Why is it that when I knock down a brick wall 10 more jump up? No wonder genealogy keeps one interested.

What is in a Name

How many family historians have gone looking for an ancestor and refuses to acknowledge that because the name is incorrect the record is ignored. I know I have often found that a name has been used in reverse of a registration, such as Mary Jane becomes Jane Mary.

My mother named me Carmel Maree, however when I sent for my birth certificate it had Carmel Marie. I use this as it makes life easier. Not only that my daughter's mother in law's name is Marie so when my granddaughter was born she was named with Marie as a middle name to cover both grandmothers, so very convenient for my daughter, not only that my mother and Marie's mother both had the same name so the next granddaughter was covered as well?

Vera with daughter Monica
However my grandmother really had her name confused. Her grandmother was the daughter of Bridget and named her own daughter after her mother. Young Bridget died as a teen from consumption so when her granddaughter  was born her grandmother insisted that the baby needed to be named Bridget. Her father went into town to register the baby. She was to be named Veronica Mary Bridget Murphy.

Nana told me this was her name and that she was registered as being born on the 6th of December instead of the 5th. When my brother was born on 6 December Nana was thrilled, he was born on her legal birthday.

Nana went to vote once and the fellow had trouble finding her and suggested maybe her name was Mary Veronica! Nana was most upset saying "I think I would know my name!"

She sent for her birth certificate once and was quite surprised to find that Bridget was not in her name at all, she would have been in her 70s at this time.
After Nana died aged 86 years her son came across the birth certificate, yes Nana had picked up that the Bridget had been left out of her name but failed to notice that her name was in fact Mary Veronica and not Veronica Mary as we had known her and she believed.

When her son died his wife has registered his mother as Mary Veronica however when my mother passed away I put the name known to us, Veronica Mary.

Interestingly I had a copy of the page from the family Bible sent to me. An entry in that says that on 5 December 1899 Veronica Annie was born! Veronica Annie, Veronica Mary Bridget, Mary Veronica?  So what exactly was Nana's name? What do we put on official records?

I have this story in my family tree  for future generations but it does prove that when looking at records we all need to be open to discrepancies and misspellings etc. Remember that what is written on a death certificate is what who ever gives the information, thinks they know. Also many were illiterate many years ago, I found a family who had about 10 children and none had the surname spelled the same.
Literacy was not an issue in Nana's family so it is very confusing that she has so many variations, oh and by the by, she was always referred to as Vera!