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Different first name recorded in GRO birth record and baptismal record.

Discussion in 'England & Wales BMD registers' started by JimT, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. JimT

    JimT New Member

    This is my first posting on the forum although I have been registered for a few years. I am seeking advice/comment on whether my research and findings are correct.

    In conducting research into my wife's family history I have found the registration in the GRO records for her great great grandmother's birth which has a different first name to her baptismal record on Ancestry.

    The tree is a follows:

    Edward Augustus George Higgins (born 15/11/1891 at Bedminister, Bristol - certificate) was my wife's grandfather and was the illigitimate son of Mary Alice Higgins. (Born 23/01/1872 Clifton, Bristol - certificate).

    Mary Alice Higgins was the daughter of William Wetherman Higgins and Mary Bishop. (married on 05/12/1863 Bristol - Mary Bishop's father is Robert Bishop Publican- certificate on Ancestry)

    Mary Bishop (Great Great Grandmother in question) was born on 18/10/1840 at St. George in the East, Middlesex- her first name is recorded as Jane Bishop and the father is Robert Bishop Gentleman, address 10 Charles Street and the mother is Ann Bishop formerly Street- certificate)
    She was baptised on 13/11/1840 as Mary Bishop at St. Botolph, Aldgate, London. Father Robert Bishop & mother Ann Bishop. Father's occupation Clerk of Charles Street- Ancestry).

    The date of registration on the GRO birth certificate is 13/11/1840 the same day she was baptised !

    I have found a marriage for Robert Bishop and Ann Street on 08/04/1827 Westminster, London on Ancestry so this fits with the bith certificate.

    In the 1841 Census Robert Bishop (35) Publican & Ann Bishop (30) are at Church Street, Holy Trinity, Minories , Whitechapel along with a son James (13) , daughter Ann (7) and daughter Mary (7 months).

    I have also found the baptisms for James Bishop & Ann Bishop on Ancesrty with Robert & Ann Bishop as the parents, so this agrees with the 1841 Census.

    In the 1851 Census Robert Bishop (45) Publican & Ann Bishop (43) Ann (17) daughter born St. Georges, Middlesex and Mary (10) daughter born St. Georges, Middlesex.

    In Census rercords for Mary Bishop folowing her marriage to William Wtherman Higgins give her place of birth as follows:
    1871 London, Minories
    1881 Middlesex, St. Georges
    1891 East ? London
    1901 London, Middlesex
    1911 London. Aldgate

    So I feel I have the right Mary Bishop....however, is it possible to have a child registered with the GRO under a different first name to that give at a baptism on the very same day ?

    Any guidance, comments, etc would be appreciated. If I have got this completely wrong please tell me ...I won't be offended.

    Thank you.

    Jim T
  2. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I will leave others to comment on the particular aspects of your query, but regarding varying baptismal names to those registered, I can say this is no new thing even in my own research. Even without telling story of the Vicar in the Church of England who positively refused to accept the family's chosen (and registered) names for their daughter (Jose Irene); and instead christened her Eileen Mary.

    OK there were extenuating circumstances -and I have written before in the Forum about it as the family occur distantly in my Tree - the Vicar was the grandfather of the child (his son's daughter). However it was still a quite unforgivable act, and one which began a family rift. The child was known to all the family as José Irene, save her Grandfather (the Vicar) who steadfastly hung on to Eileen Mary.
    • Useful Useful x 1
  3. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    This is something of a thorny puzzle but it certainly looks plausible that Jane and Mary could be the same person, though the occupation "Gentleman" on the birth certificate seems a bit surprising for a clerk or publican - unless this is confirmed elsewhere.

    You may already have checked and not mentioned it, but two remote possibilities occur to me:
    1) Were there two different couples named Robert & Ann Bishop living on Charles Street at the time
    2) Were Jane & Mary twins, with Jane dying shortly after birth? Maybe the parents went to register Jane's death and were told they needed to register her birth first.

    Otherwise, you may be looking at an error on the certificate, at the registration or in the registrar's quarterly return to the GRO. Did the birth certificate come from the GRO or the local registrar? Who registered the birth and were they able to sign their name? If the informant either couldn't, or didn't, read what had been written it's possible the registrar recorded the wrong name by mistake.

    EDIT: It looks like there were two other children whose births were registered - Louisa in 1838 & Robert in 1842. Is there anything related to them with throws light on this puzzle?
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
  4. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I note the baptism record (St Botolph, Aldgate) shows her baptism on the 13th November 1840, whilst also showing she was born on the 18th October, 1840, so I believe this is likely the correct sequence, regardless of the GRO date, which is either wrong, or coincidental to the date the birth was registered.

    Certainly the Jane Bishop birth registration (2/81/32) in the 4th quarter of 1840 confirms the mother's maiden name of Street, and whilst there is also a Mary Bishop born in the 4th quarter of 1840 in London City (2/154/9), the mother's maiden name is Brooks so can be discounted.

    I think the occupation of the father Robert as a 'Publican' in Charles Street on the Birth Certificate for Jane Bishop and then as 'Clerk' in the same Street for Mary Bishop at Baptism, is (as Pauline says) surprising and not least cause for suspicion. But I suppose a Clerk could become a Publican (or vice versa) so perhaps just a bit of a red herring. Either way nothing found so far to answer your query about why she was registered as Jane and baptised as Mary. Others may come up with a solution.
  5. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I think it was "Gentleman" on the birth certificate, ""Clerk" at the baptism, and "Publican" in 1841 - it was the "Gentleman" that surprised me.

    If I've found the right baptism for James, then it seems Robert was a Wine Merchant in 1828. I guess that might tie in with Gentleman and Publican at least.
  6. JimT

    JimT New Member

    Thanks for your comments...I now feel more relaxed about my discrepancy.
  7. JimT

    JimT New Member


    Thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts . I had thought there may be twins however have been unable to find any evidence to confirm one way or the other. Following your comment I have checked all the entries for Charles Street in the 1841 Census to see if there were 2 Robert & Ann Bishops in the same street. Again I couldn't find any evidence to support this possibility.

    The birth certificate is a PDF from the GRO so looks like it may be a transcription error. The birth was registered by the father Robert Bishop.

    There are 2 other baptism for Robert Bishop Bap. 05/06/1842 and William Bishop Bap. 12 /12 1843 with Robert & Ann as the parents and Robert's occupation as Victualler. William's baptism was a day after his birth so I suspect he may not have lived long after his birth. Neither of the boys are with the parents in the 1851 Census.

    I was also aware of the baptisms of James 1828 and Ann 1834. So like you I feel I'm on the right track for this family.

    The fact that Mary Bishop gave her place of birth as Minories, London (1871 census), St. Georges (1881 Census) and Aldgate (1911 Census) also make me pretty sure that I have the right Mary Bishop's birth and baptism even though there is the discrepancy with the first name given in the GRO cert. and the baptism record.
  8. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I did wonder whether the vicar objected to Jane because it wasn't a traditional saint's name (the only St Jane I could find was beatified after the Church of England was founded). But a more likely answer is that she was named Mary to please one of the godparents.

    The difference in occupation between clerk and gentleman could have been to avoid paying more for the ceremony (see the paper referenced in my forthcoming article about baptism).
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  9. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Yes I agree, especially with the first comment about Vicar's/Priest objecting to baptising babies where at least one of their given names is not that of a Saint (one of the reasons why the Vicar in my story objected to names chosen by family). I also know many RC parents are 'told' by the Priest when consulted about baptism, that at least one (preferably the first) given name of their child must be that of a Saint. But religious denomination aside, most 19th Century and earlier baptisms were for children given at least one saint name and written with it Latin equivalent in the Registers.

    I can also understand godparent pressure influencing parents perhaps to include their name, but I would have thought this would more likely be an additional name rather than a substitution of one chosen by parents.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  10. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    In a similar way to your Mary/Jane conundrum, I have a relative who has a similar style of name changes over her official documentation.

    Her birth was registered as "Hannah" in 1894 (I had to get the certificate to confirm). By the 1901 census she was listed as "Rose"; in 1911 she was "Rose Anne"; on her marriage register in 1918 she was "Rosanna". She retained "Rosanna" in the 1939 register and was "Rosanna" on her death registration in 1985. (with an incorrect birth year of 1895).

    *This issue arose because of a photo of Rose (and her appearance on the 1901 census with the rest of her family) and a need to correctly identify the children of this particular family (half siblings of my great-grandfather). The links were able to be made through some pieces of information (one of my cousins remembered the name of the man Rose married) and I was ably assisted by help from the wonderful members of this forum.

    I simply presumed that she preferred to be known as "Rose" as opposed to "Hannah" and "Rosanna" was a compromise between the two names! And as I have never found a baptism record for her (or perhaps have simply not looked in the correct spot), I am unsure if she was baptised as Hannah or Rose.
  11. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Your relative's name changed over a period of years, which is not unusual - but to have two names on the same day?
  12. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    Very true indeed.
  13. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I don't know what it is about the name Rosanna (or in any of similar guises - Roseannah, Roseanna or in short forms; Rose, Rosa, Rosy, Hannah) as I have similar stories in my own Tree, and one in particular is the sort of reverse of jorghes story, but on a family personal level rather than name changes in records.

    A great-Aunt christened Rose Harriet Jane from a very young age insisted on being called Rosa - not Rose but Rosa. The family accepted this but then in her teens she apparently asked her parents why she had not been christened Rose Hannah as she disliked the name Harriet. She told family she wished to be known as Rosehannah (sic), later (preferring Rosa to Rose) electing for Rosahannah (quite a mouthful but this did not seem to bother her).

    But this teenage fad changes after marriage when she and her husband ran a confectionery business. She then reverted to being called Rosa and her husband Arthur. (He was christened Albert (known to his family as Bert) but preferred to be called Arthur). Now't so funny as folk springs to mind.
  14. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    According to the 1891 census my grandmother was Anna. (I can find no record of a baptism) In 1901 she was Annie, and in 1911 she was Anne. However, in between those dates, she added a name. On my Dad's birth registration in 1908 she was Dorothy Annie, and on my aunt's in 1913 she was Annie Dorothy. When she married my step-grandfather in 1918 she was Dorothy Annie and was the same in the 1921 Canadian census. Where Dorothy came from I have no idea, but it is the reason why it took me so many years to find her. She also invented a name for her father on the marriage certificate, and put deceased, which was also no help in finding her. (he died in 1937)

    I have a 2nd cousin twice removed with the name Harryemily. Female cousin. On her baptism record it says Harry Emily but when she married that record says Harryemily. She had a younger sister named Mary Emily.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
  15. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I really have lost count on the number of Anne's, Annie's & Ann's that interchange, certainly in Censuses but also in BMD registrations. Luckily most can be found when searching providing an 'exact' box is not ticked.

    I have also had a spate of discovering middle names where none such are shown on birth or baptism records. Only this week I messaged someone asking why they had opted for a George Phillip when to all intent and purpose his birth registration showed him as plain George. The answer came back as that was how he had been known in the family, but could not enlighten as to when 'Phillip' was added. But tacking on an additional first name or even a part name that changes the alphabetical search sequence is something else. Even with clever 'wild' card variations, or less-is-more searches this can add hours to satisfactorily finding someone.

    I have not come across 'Harry' used for a female with or without the Emily, but names that do not fit the gender (as viewed today) do crop up now and again. Some quite famous boys were Christened Shirley and we know of a 'Boy called Sue'. I recall having a few chortles when researching my wife's Tree over distinctly odd names for boys and girls, but sadly my memory does not run to recalling same, but I do remember all the names had biblical origins.
  16. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Findmypast is far, far better than Ancestry at handling forename discrepancies. I would never use Ancestry to find a GRO birth or marriage record, and the only time I would use them to find a date record would be if I knew the precise date of birth.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    My 3x great-grandmother was baptised as Julian in 1805 (her grandmother was also Julian, not an uncommon girl's name in Norfolk at that time, I understand). When she married she was Julia Ann and on censuses and on her death and burial records she is just Julia.

    I also have a relative who was baptised, married and died as Judith but appears in all censuses as Sarah.
  18. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    Not only did my Dad have his mother's name wrong, he also had the birth date. Even using the +/- 2 years it was not correct. I had always wondered since it would have put her at 14 when he was born, and the information from Barnardo Homes said she was in the workhouse until she was 16. Finding her in the census for 1891, with help from a forum member, was a great help, especially since DNA confirmed it. Without a baptismal record I do not know for sure if she was actually Anna or Anne. She did not fill out either the 1901 or 1911 census; someone else did it, so the Annie and Anne were just what someone else wrote.
  19. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Slight off on a tangent, but I think this topic is the place to record yet another variation that has only just come to my attention, for my Tree surname of CUNNINGTON. Even with the new addition I think it lags at least one name shy of the variations for FENNELOW. But the latest Cunnington mis-transcrip is I think worthy of granting it a bonus to draw level. But here to date are those previously recorded, beginning with reasonable mis-interpretations and gradually getting worse: Connington, Cannington. Carrington, Conington, Canington, Carington, Cummington, Cunning, Cumming, Cunnioton (previous winner)..until CAMPIGLIA!! Here is the proof of the latest mis-intepretation:

    It concerns a marriage registration for a Harriet Cunnington in 1914 to a Thomas Edward Bassett Mason. First the transcript then the original:

    Cunninton marriage transcript.JPG Cunninton marriage original.JPG

    I would'nt have minded any of the previous mis-transcriptions, but Campiglia I ask you!?:mad:

    PS as an aside, what do you make of 'False-False' shown after the place name under Search Photos on the transcript?
  20. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I agree in general, but it is not always the case. I was entering someone with forename Prudence in the 1911 census onto LC the other day, and on clicking the 'check' arrow found that FMP had transcribed the name as Bridener. Ancestry's transcription was correct and the original is clear enough to me as Prudence.

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