Surname spelling


Spelling of surnames has become very important in modern times with Government identification requirements, so today many people don’t believe they may be related if the other persons name is spelled even slightly different.

But spelling really doesn’t matter….and no-one knows your “correct” spelling anyway.

In fact the spelling your family surname has today is quite accidental, simply because most people could not read or write until the late 1800’s. The further one goes back in history the more mixed up and unreliable written surnames become.
Even the great writer Shakespeare spelled his own name differently each time.

So in any one name study we have to have to list all the possible spellings used – these are the “variants” and “deviants”.

In the early days names were purely spoken, and if an event was recorded by an official, whatever he thought he heard was written down the way he thought it was spelled.
As accents around England varied considerably and as visiting officials travelled between different districts to record births marriages and deaths, they all wrote down different spellings.
No-one ever asked “how do you spell that?”!

So a couple and their children can all have many different spellings of surnames throughout their lives at marriage, baptism & burials.

None of this variant spelling really mattered until ordinary people started to migrate, especially overseas, and the Government wished to track the people for tax & welfare reasons.

When people wished to migrate or collect welfare payments or other government services they had to prove who they were.
If they were born before the government started collecting family information in 1837 – they had to attend the church where they were born and the minister of the day would look up & copy the information out of the Parish record book.

So here were 2 possible mistakes, the first guess at how it was spelled, and how good or bad his handwriting was. Then of course came any mistakes when this was later transcribed into the official documents.

In my Australian case each branch of the family is now spelled purely as their migrating member found his parish record of his birth – so we have Jarred, Jared & Jarrad’s – yet all are children of the same parents – who settled into their new country.

The official variants registered in this study are the spellings most used since 1800 – Jarred, Jarrod & Jarrad…..
however prior to 1900 Jarrold, Jarrett/att/ott & Garrett/att/ott/od/ed/ad & all those spelled Je/ or Ge/ have been found.

The only major separation I have is between the UK East Anglian Jarred’s of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire & Lincolnshire and the more plentiful Southern English Jarrad’s….which appear throughout history to be totally separate families.
© Gary Jarrad 2016

 Posted by at 3:29 am