Anyone who’s been researching been researching for longer than a week will know that name variants play a
big HUGE part in research. Both with first names, and surnames. Figuring out how names were potentially spelt (or ‘spelled’ for my North American readers) can be the difference between finding them or not.
I’m not going to go into the in’s and out’s of name variants, but rather I wanted to highlight two particular surnames, and all the variants that I’ve found for them so far. There’s 61 of them for one, and 31 for the other. And truth is, I really wouldn’t be surprised if more show up.
So let’s start with ELLIOT. This is one of Mr Lonetester’s branches, while ELLIOTT (with two “Ts”) is one of mine, with no connection that I know of between them at this stage. We all know that there are numerous variants of Elliott: one “L”, two “Ls”, one “T”, two “Ts”, but what I didn’t realise is just how many more there really are.
One thing I like to do when beginning searching a new surname is to note down all the variants. That way when I’m searching, be it a website, a book or records, I can look for them all, and see what I come up with.
Mr Lonetester’s ELLIOT family possibly came from Sussex (that’s still to be verified), but I headed (online) to the Sussex Family History Society to browse around and see what they had. Now they have the coolest thing on their website, and that’s the Sussex People Index. In their words …
The Sussex People Index consists of any names that anyone can submit from anywhere – the only condition is that the event reported must happen in Sussex and there must be an identifiable source (not a website please). Wills’ beneficiaries witnesses and lawyers, information from Birth Marriage or Death certificates, tax records, settlement orders, masters and apprentices, landowners, licences issued to publicans, magistrates, churchwardens, names taken from a book which has been indexed, etc. Please not baptisms, burials, memorial inscriptions, census, or pre-1837 marriages which all have their own indexes. There are 120,000 entries referring to 230,000 people with 11,730 surnames (excluding variants).
So anyone can look at the list of surnames, whether you’re member or not, with members being able to log-in and check the details (entries for each name). Now I am a member, but have forgotten my log-ins, so will follow up on that one later, but I was able to use the surname list to create a list of alternate spellings which was handy.
My list of variant spellings for ELLIOT/ELLIOTT are:
Eleot, Eleott, Elicot, Eliot, Eliote, Eliots, Eliott, Eliotte, Ellioit, Ellioitt, Elliot, Elliote, Elliott, Ellliott, Elloit, Elloitt, Ellot, Ellott, Ellyat, Ellyate, Ellyatt, Ellyet, Ellyett, Ellyot, Ellyott, Ellytt, Elot, Elyat, Elyatt, Elyeat, Elyet, Elyete, Elyett, Elyot, Elyote, Elyott, Elyotte, Elyout, Leliat, Leliet, Leliot, Leliott, Lelliat, Lelliatt, Lellicot, Lelliet, Lelliot, Lelliott,Lelloitt, Lellut, Lellyett, Lellyot, Lellyott, Lelyet, Lelyot, Lelyoth, Lelyott, Lylliot, Lylliott, Lyllyatt, Lyllyott.
And while I was there, Mr Lonetester’s ELLIOT married an ELPHICK (from Sussex), so I created a variant list for Elphick as well. Again, I was blown away by the number of variants that there are. 31 just for Elphick, who knew!
My list of variant spellings for ELPHICK are:
Elfeck, Elfecke, Elffeck, Elffecke, Elfhick, Elfic, Elfick, Elficke, Elfig, Elfigg, Elfrick, Eliphicke, Ellfeck, Ellfick, Ellpeck, Ellpeheg, Ellphick, Elpheck, Elphecke, Elpheke, Elphic, Elphich, Elphicke, Elphik, Elphycke, Elpick, Elpiiick, Elpphick, Elprick, Elspick, Lphick.
So to anyone that says “my family never had any variant spellings”, I say “rubbish”. There’s always name variants. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometimes it’s a transcription error either by the person who created the record way back then, or by someone transcribing it more recently. Names were so often written as they sounded, rather than a strict spelling, and combine that with various accents, and you can see why there’s so many variants.
Whether you use the Sussex People Index list or any name other list, to create your own name variant list, is entirely up to you.
But this is just a reminder to keep name variants in mind when searching.