Author Topic: Definition of 'legal name' COMPLETED THANKS.  (Read 1161 times)

Offline lydiaann

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Definition of 'legal name' COMPLETED THANKS.
« on: Tuesday 25 April 17 09:32 BST (UK) »
I had a great deal of trouble finding a member of my family from the early 1900s (a great-aunt).  Finally, she appeared on US documentation as Isobel Craven, when I had been looking for Euphemia (or Effie as she was known by my grandfather) Craven.  Isobel was proved to be Effie as passenger information showed her travelling back home to her father at my great-grandfather's known address.  Following this, I managed to find her life, marriage, children, death, etc.  Now, a further document has come to light showing her as Isobel E. Beaumont (her married name).  My question is this:  most of my family going way back show only one name...did they have to register all names if they were given them.  What was the legal position a hundred years ago in relation to registration of birth, marriage, death etc?
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Online AntonyMMM

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 09:38 BST (UK) »
In the UK - just as it is now. That is a person can change their name and use any name they like so long as it is not for fraudulent purposes.

There is no requirement to make any legal declaration about it (although it can make things easier with officialdom if you do).

BMD registrations are always completed in the name  the person is known by or using at the time of the event - if the registrar is aware that other names have been or are in use then you may get "formerly...." or "otherwise ...." but those other names are not legally required to be shown.

Offline Andrew Tarr

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 09:57 BST (UK) »
My grandfather's birth (or baptism) was registered with his mother's surname as 'middle' name - a common practice in Victorian England.  I have not seen it recorded since.  His mother-in-law was registered as Emma Mary, but ever after was known as Mary Emma (as she still is)  :D

A person's name was considered to be determined by common usage.  A few resorted to deed poll (I don't know when that started) and I believe a small number even published a press notice announcing that from then on they wished to be known as (e.g.) Jimmy Choo.
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Offline andrewalston

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 10:01 BST (UK) »
In the UK (don't know about the US), you are legally who you say you are.

There are shortcuts for informing the authorities of a change of name. "Deed Poll" gives you a certificate to present to all and sundry. Thus "Reginald Kenneth Dwight" is now officially "Elton Hercules John", and there is a paper trail linking him to his birth registration, in a manner similar to an adoption.

However, you are still welcome to personally inform all those you deal with of a change of name, and it's all perfectly legal. These days we deal with lots more people than we did in the early 20th century, so it becomes a chore. Just think how many people you inform of a simple change of address.

What you describe though, sounds to me like someone who just did not like one of her forenames, and at times didn't use it at all. I one worked with a chap whose first name was Valentine. He hated it and only used his second given name.

That extra name might not appear on the birth registration; there are religions where an extra name is added at, say, baptism.

I've noticed that in the part of Canada where some of my relatives live that people use given names in a random order. They might be Daniel Thomas Smith at one census and Thomas Daniel Smith at the next. At other events they might mention just one of their names.
Looking at ALSTON in south Ribble area, ALSTEAD and DONBAVAND/DUNBABIN etc. everywhere, HOWCROFT and MARSH in Bolton and Westhoughton, PICKERING in the Whitehaven area.

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Offline Jomot

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 11:54 BST (UK) »
As has been said, using a name of choice rather than a birth name is not at all uncommon.  When I look at my own family, I changed my name by deed poll whereas my sister has changed hers by common usage, and I have a few cousins etc who commonly use the surname of their step-father rather than their biological one.

Going back through the generations I have several aunts & uncles who used only their middle names, and further back still I have people switching the order of their given names, adding new middle names, and one branch even using two different surnames at the same time - one for BMD events and the other for day-to-day events, including the census.  My one complete brick-wall almost certainly changed both her forename & surname... but I will find her one day!
MORGAN: Glamorgan, Durham, Ohio. DAVIS/DAVIES/DAVID: Glamorgan, Ohio.  GIBSON: Leicestershire, Durham, North Yorkshire.  RAIN/RAINE: Cumberland.  TAYLOR: North Yorks. BOURDAS: North Yorks. JEFFREYS: Worcestershire & Northumberland. FORBES: Berwickshire, CHEESMOND: Durham/Northumberland. WINTER: Durham/Northumberland. SNOWBALL: Durham.

Offline iolaus

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 15:06 BST (UK) »
My husband's great grandmother was known to everyone as Norah - that's her name on her marriage certificate, death certificates, was on her pension details, telegram from queen on her 100th and one from prime minister etc, from her fathers WW1 records.  So from the age of 1 she's Norah Lily.

When I found her birth record she was actually registered as Lily Norah.




Offline lydiaann

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Re: Definition of 'legal name'
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 25 April 17 17:24 BST (UK) »
Many thanks, Chatters...that's helped considerably.  I have in my 'Shoebox' another document which I now am fairly sure belongs to one of my distant relatives, given everything you've all said; I'd been reticent to add him to the tree but I'll do so now.  Perhaps it will bring other information into my sphere now!!

Again, many thanks :) :) :) 
Cravens of Wakefield, Alnwick, Banchory-Ternan
Houghtons and Harrises of Melbourne, Derbyshire
Taylors of Chadderton/Oldham, Lancashire
MacGillivrays of Mull
Macdonalds of Dundee