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logoProformat News                  ISSN 1833-9514
No 21
November 2007

November seminars

17 Nov: Ask the Genealogist Fleurieu Peninsula Family History Group: AGM Church Hall, William Street, Christies Beach.
22 Nov
: UK ancestors Cultural Centre Library Diagonal Road Oaklands Park 10:30am 2 hour session.

Australian History
Gould Genealogy is undertaking a new exciting venture and Adelaide Proformat is delighted to be a part of the project. A new site is being developed to be the major Australian History gateway with the following features:
• free content
• collaboration with others with associated interests
• shop front for products and similar services
• history and genealogy directory site
• bibliographies
• higher visibility for those involved
• complementing other related web sites
• housing others' home pages

Enhanced search capabilities
Enhanced search capabilities at the Adelaide Proformat site are being introduced to allow searching of all databases at the site via the search engine provided by Atomz on the gateway page. At this time this search engine will pick up all names in all the databases associated with Early BDMs and deaths. We will extend it to other databases.

In this issue:

• November seminars
Australian History
Enhanced search capabilities
• ScotlandsPeople Census search
• NZ BDM access embargoes

What's in a surname?


Adelaide Proformat
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Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
Writing & publishing
SA lookup service
Ship paintings

ScotlandsPeople Census search
A new field, Second person forename, has been added to the census forms. The new search works by displaying results based on both of the forenames entered appearing on the same image. If you know the forenames of two persons in a household you will be able to greatly narrow down lists of results by using this additional field.

NZ BDM access embargoes
You may recall my report in the May 2007 Newsletter about a bill before the NZ Parliament that among other things was to introduce access embargoes on NZ BDM certificates:
• births 100 years
• marriages 80 years
• deaths 50 years or 80 years since the birth of the deceased
News to hand is that the NZ Government has backed down as the result of intensive opposition. However, the watered down version introduces some novel ideas. It is now proposed that:
a public register will be established so people can check who has accessed their records, and,
2) people will have the right to request that their records not be disclosed to the public.

What's in a surname?
I was quite surprised to recently read in a well known monthly English family history magazine, where a reader sought information on the origin of their surname, to find the writer suggesting that this origin and subsequent migratory history would have suggested her ancestors emanated from the continent and as merchants relocated to Scotland sometime in the 16th century. At best this sort of advice maybe the start of a new family myth and at worst the reader may take the material on board as serious family history!
While researching the meaning and origin of your own surname can be great fun, the finding should never ever be then attributed to your own origins. There are just too many factors over the generations that make the likelihood of the family name you bear today being the name borne by your first ancestor to take on an hereditary surname that was retained by succeeding generations.
we could exhume your first male ancestor to take on an hereditary surname, then we would expect his DNA makeup to be a match with your father if there was an unbroken line down through the generations to him.
There are a number of easily identifiable reasons why the genetics do not follow the same pathway as an hereditary surname. The fact that any of these may occur at any stage in your ancestry and as likely or not remain unrecorded just emphasises the need to pursue ancestry in a proven step by step process back generation by generation.
There are a multitude of examples of surname changes under the following circumstances:
   • an illegitimate male child passed off as mother’s brother.
   • an illegitimate male child within a marriage who discovers his biological father.
   • a husband adopting his wife’s surname.
   • stepchildren adopting their stepfather's surname.
   • an adopted male child who takes the surname.
   • a foreign name altered to resemble an existing local surname.
   • a male purchaser of property adopting the seller’s surname.
   • a mis-spelling at some point that switches to a new surname entirely.
   • a condition for an inheritance.
   • an admirer or lackey taking on a superior's name.
   • a male hiding his identity for any number of reasons.
   • a male rejecting his name for personal or societal reasons.
cartoonEven that first ancestor in a family who takes on a surname had the name attributed to him by others and is a mere accident of history in itself. Originally surnames were attributed to individuals to distinguish them from others with the same forename in the same community. The church had seen to it that a relatively small pool of given names were available for selection. The add-on name, which is what surname means, was primarily occupational, locational, descriptive or based on a relationship with another person. Initially these were not hereditary and hence Thomas [the] Weaver may have had a son called John [the] Chapman (a chapman being a travelling dealer in wares). At some point in time an ancestor retained the surname regardless of his occupation but you can see that it would be just by chance which name was fixed upon.
When did this happen? Well we just do not know except to say that upper class Normans had surnames at the time of the conquest and every English land owner listed in the 1390 poll tax returns had a surname but whether these latter ones were hereditary or not is unknown.
Locational surnames would seem to have been the most popular as it was easy to identify a person by their place of work or home and hence William By[the]church etc. A small group of locational names relate to place names and were usually reserved for more important people. Thus persons named after a county as in Thomas [of] Lancaster would have been significant individuals. No doubt some ancient called Jaunay after the french ville of the same name was a significant local. Even such a distinctive name like mine does not give me any licence to think my ancestry is tied up with this village. Any of the above scenarios preclude me from making that claim until I can achieve the impossible—namely, pursue my ancestry in a proven step by step process back generation by generation to the very first Jaunay!
The French surname Jaunet is pronounced exactly like Jaunay. The former is common and evolves from a descriptive name for a person with a jaundiced complexion or yellow hair. Maybe my ancestor was a Jaunet but a scribe wrote down Jaunay! Who knows?

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