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  •  Even working with relatively unique names (6+ / 0-)

    ... like last week's Bergdolls can require care.  Two cousins were given the same name, in the same town, born in the same year but several months apart.  So every record has to be carefully examined because of the ever-present hazard of assigning them to the wrong one.

    Only the little people pay taxes - Leona Helmsley

    by Land of Enchantment on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:08:29 AM PDT

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    •  That is important to remember. (6+ / 0-)

      I have lucked out on my unique surname ... and I do mean luck ... in the Netherlands, consistent surnames were not the norm until the Napoleonic invasion. But our family adopted ours as a guildname back around 1650--not only that, but the family was originally from Germany, and the spelling of the rather common Dutch word was rendered phonetically according to German spelling rules. To top that off, they remained in the same house continuously from 1650 to about 1830.

      The difficulties arise with the naming conventions, ie children named first for grandparents, so patronyms used as middle names were absolutely critical...I got a few generations off into a line of cousins a couple of times until I realized my mistake. This makes it difficult to trace non-direct female lines--women kept their own names after marriage, but I find that they didn't necessarily keep the guild name--just their patronym.

      I don't have nearly as much luck with my paternal grandmother's line. :(

      "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

      by klompendanser on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:34:01 AM PDT

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      •  Patronym (5+ / 0-)

        That's a new word for me.  I had to look it up.  So - all those O's and Macs and Fitzes have a descriptor.  Something I find helpful as supporting clues is when ancestral names turn up as middle names.  Helps confirm that one hasn't gotten off the track.

        Only the little people pay taxes - Leona Helmsley

        by Land of Enchantment on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:46:30 AM PDT

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        •  This: (5+ / 0-)
          ...ancestral names turn up as middle names.
          ...is the reason for my mom's family's tradition of giving boys their mother's maiden name as a middle name (as mine is). Sure helps in tracing descent. I was sorry when my sisters abandoned the tradition with their own children...

          There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

          by slksfca on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:51:36 AM PDT

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          •  my family has a case of "eldest brother died (0+ / 0-)

            tragically early" (my father, Gordon), so there's a strata of cousins with pretty much every male child having "Gordon" as a middle name. Well, except for my brother, who was 10 when he died, and HIS middle name is our mother's maiden name! My son is the only next generation middle-Gordon I know of, but my one aunt has about 9 great-grandchildren and there may be some more Gordon's there that I don't know about, 8-)

            "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

            by chimene on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 02:00:18 AM PDT

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        •  It is also helpful when reading War and Peace (6+ / 0-)

          and Anna Karenina.

          Seriously, it really is useful. In the Netherlands, it was the father's first name with an "S" at the end. I have an ancestor whose first name was Derk (named for maternal grandfather), and middle name was "Dirks" (patronym) plus our surname--so even common spelling variations -- Derk/Dirk -- can clue you into whether you're on the right track .

          My favorite was a many greats grandmother with the name of Egbertje Egberts -- I was so glad to be able to claim such a name for my tree.

          "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

          by klompendanser on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:56:16 AM PDT

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