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October 23, 2013

Blended Families, Blended Names - Good or Bad Idea?

Blended Families, Blended Names - Good or Bad Idea?
Blended Families, Blended Names is the most disturbing trend I've heard of recently. According to the article online, some married couples are inventing a new surname for themselves and by extension their children. The new surname is a combination of the husband and wife's surnames.

This isn't a case of hyphenated surnames. Two of my own grandchildren have a hyphenated name from their mom and dad as their moniker. But that makes it easier for genealogists! Having an ancestor named Smith-McConnell gives an instant surname to the wife and as we all know, often it is the women who are the most challenging to find.

No, this is a case of taking husband and wife named Smith and McConnell and creating a new name such as McSmith. The new name is used by the couple and by their children.

The article cites examples of real couples, for example the husband and wife team of Fitzpatrick and Sawatzky. They now carry the new surname of Fitzky

All I could think when I read this was how difficult they are making life for their descendants who might be interested in genealogy. But I also confess I had a little bit of sadness thinking how that name change dishonoured their ancestors.

In my own genealogical research it was only through sheer luck that I stumbled on the fact  that my Vollick ancestor who I could not find prior to 1786 was in fact born a Van Valkenburg. Sometime during or after the American Revolution his surname became Vollick. His sons used both Vollick and Follick. I would not deliberately wish that challenge on anyone!

What do you think of this trend?


bgwiehle said...

Adoptions (either by strangers or second husbands) also change surnames, and obscure the actual parentage. And many immigrants "adjusted" their names. But we live for the challenges in genealogy - don't we? One of my surprise discoveries was a divorced wife who took her 2 children from Ohio to California, and dropped 1 letter from their surname.

Celia Lewis said...

I have knowledge of quite a few 'made-up' surnames from the 1960s onwards... I don't see it as dishonouring our ancestors, actually, but as their way of honouring their own new lives with their children. And they had to do some fancy work leaving paper trails as well, so I think their 4th greatgrandchildren will likely figure this whole thing out. They would have been married - if they married - so there's another trail. Their death certificate may give another clue or three...
We do love challenges, after all!!

The Grandmother Here said...

What do women with a hyphenated surname do when they get married? Mary Adams-Brown marries Tom Green and becomes Mary Adams-Brown-Green?!

L. Hedgecock said...

My kids hate our last name (Hedgecock), mostly due to the last four letters. I keep telling them that there is a long, proud tradition behind that name.

The genealogist in me says Nooooooo.

Laura Hedgecock