"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, 29 June 2012

An aside on the mystery of names

In the course of writing my post Detective work 1. The clue is in the name, I noticed that actually names also seem to be responsible for a lot of my family mysteries too:
1. Why does Mabel Hayward née Hall become ‘Mrs William Hayward (Mabel Hall Narlian)’ in one instance? Is Narlian a stage name, or perhaps her mother’s name on remarriage (see 3. Below)
2. Did Florence Gibson marry Matthew Hall – if not why is she called Hall by 1911, is it just a coincidence?
3. What name does Kathleen/Kate Hall née Geoghegan take following her divorce from Matthew? Does she remarry?
4. Why do the entire Geoghegan family suddenly adopt the name Heyes on the 1881 census?
5. Is William Hedgcock’s change of surname to Hayward a stage name or something else? If it is his ‘stage name’, why is his marriage registered under it, and why are there so few entries for him in the Stage archives etc.?
6. Why does John Jayne’s mother adopt the name Ann Richard on one census before reverting to Ann Jayne on the next?
7. Are husband and wife Richard Winter and Sarah née Winter related?
And that’s just for starters...
L x


  1. Regarding no 4 - Geoghegan is a surname of Irish origin, correct? Perhaps they were facing some sort of discrimination, or perhaps people couldn't pronounce the name correctly.

    Maybe in the same sort of way that Jews who emigrated to America often Anglicised their names. Just a thought...

    Or maybe a parent remarried and the new name was taken on?

  2. It definitely wasn't a remarriage, I am certain of that.

    I hadn't considered the possibility of prejudice against the Irish roots, which I suppose could be it, but I'm not convinced. Although it is an Irish name, they were all born here - it was their father/grandfather who was originally Irish. Also, Joseph Bryan Geoghegan was quite well known in the area I think, as he ran a music hall, and he had been writing songs and performing under his name for years.

    I did wonder if it could have been simply an error on the part of the enumerator, but that doens't seem so likely when you consider the all kept the G of Geoghegan as a middle initial in their 'alias'. There are bloody loads of them as well, so it would be quite a mistake!

    It's almost as if they're purposely trying to hide - but again, everyone in the neighbuorhood must have known who they were, as well as the telltale intial G.

    Basically it just makes no sense...!


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