What’s in a name? We all have one. How we got our name can be interesting or even boring! Are you named after your mother or father or is it your grandparents or is your name one of those that was the flavour of the time?


When doing family history research, one will come across similar names – some repeated many, many times. This does make researching interesting, to say the least. Caution must be taken that you have the correct person, with the correct parents (father and mother) in the right year and place (town, county or state and country). Some may find this weird that I mention country – well, just make sure you know where the exact location is otherwise your tree will have so much rotting fruit and dead branches that you may just want to start over!


In my second blog (How & Why I Started? Part One), I mentioned a couple of names but there are so many shall we say “duplicates”. One does wonder what the families were thinking of at the time. (Remember, they were not thinking someone in the future would research them!) I am mainly referring to English records. Wales is another completely huge minefield which I prefer to stay away from. I apologise to all those with Welsh ancestry – same first name, same surname!!

The statistics from my research on the top 5 first names in my tree, show the following data:


I do have the odd repeat with surnames but usually in different generations which is good. It does become interesting when they have children – some have above ten. What I have found common is when a child dies, another child is given the same name (that is, within the same family). Many trees I have seen online either only have one child (sometimes the one that has died). This child then has all the information added that relates to the other – it becomes a complete mess. As I’ve said previously – others copy all the information so the merry-go-round goes round and round.


I had an enquiry from someone who was researching one of the same surnames that appear in my tree. All looked extremely positive and it appeared we were cousins. We commenced comparing notes and the interesting bits began to develop.

We had the same first name – Samuel. Seemed to have the same father. Born in the same year 1855 and even in the same county – Suffolk. However, the town was different. Only a few miles apart but still different.

This is where adding context to your ancestors within your tree assists to ensure you have the correct person and for that matter people. Check out my blog “Adding Context”, published on 7 February 2023.

My possible cousin had a family story that, when checking the local history, made a significant impact on his ancestor. My ancestor just didn’t line up at all…


Digging deeper his Samuel, went on to marry and have children. We were able to track him via census records and the usual BMD record details including parish records.

My Samuel is tracked briefly then just disappears not to be found. He does appear on a couple of census records, so he is a real person. All possible checks – deaths – across England, Wales and Scotland – absolutely nothing. Did he get sent to the colonies? I also checked court and prison records, along with all the possible name variants with the surname and there are at least ten – so many dead ends. I wouldn’t call it a brick wall – you can break down a brick wall…


So, names, are interesting, to say the least. When researching make sure you have found the correct person and have all the relevant documents – sourced and cited. It does make it easier…

My Samuel is on hold – most likely forever…

NOTE: Samuel is not a direct ancestor but one of the children. I have found all his siblings and their families but not him.

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