Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2005-09 > 1127175722

Subject: Re: Spelling Irish of name
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 20:22:02 EDT

Hi Dan,

While I have heard the use of Latin in church records, I did not realize
that the Gaelic spelling of "Nora" was "Nora". To tell you the truth I wasn't
sure what it was. My grandmother was baptized Honor but when she was buried
(1956), her name on the gravestone was Honoria. I guess the priest had advised
my uncle that Honoria was the correct name. I guess Noreen is not Gaelic, is

On another note, I had read an article (I can't find the original author) on
the Hopkins (my maiden name) name in Ireland that chances were the original
name was anglicized by the English. My father had told me that according to
family lore an English soldier named Hopkins had married an Irish lass who had
Farrell as a surname. That was why his grandfather and brother were named

While I can't go back in records as far as I would like (great grandfather),
I do know that my Irish roots are deep. I persuaded my brother to have his
YDNA tested to see what it would show and one of the markers was from the
Basque region of Spain. This marker indicated that my father's roots are from the
original settlers of Ireland about 4,000 years ago. Apparently 98% of the
men in Connaught Province has this marker.

I told my husband (FitzGerald) he is a johnny come lately.

Nora Hopkins FitzGerald

In a message dated 9/19/2005 5:00:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

From the Tipperary list.
Dan Hogan

> Hello
> Time I rolled out my semi-regular posting on
> spelling of first names,
> Christian names, and surnames. The usual
> apologies to those who have heard it all before.
> Mick Dowling
- --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> -----------------------------------------------
> "The whole issue of the spelling and pronunciation
> of names is in this day
> and age a very precise business, but 200 years ago
> the opposite could have
> been said. The following is a collage of several
> relevant messages recently
> posted to the rootsweb Co.Tipperary lists, by
> Richard Callanan and myself.
> The first time the average person would have their
> name recorded anywhere
> was a Baptism or Marriage record, and these records
> are generally the
> earliest available to search.
> Baptism and Marriage records.
> First names. In early Church records the Gaelic
> first names were spelt in
> the Latin equivalent, or what the Priest decided was
> the equivalent,
> additionally the name had to be that of a recognised
> saint, i.e. 'a
> Christian name'. For example Sean became John,
> Liam/William, Eamon/Edward,
> Siobhan/Johanna, Mairead/Margaret, Maire/Mary.
> The following is an example of first
> name variations.
> "The registers may well show names the people
> themselves never used. I have
> a plethora of "Cornelius" entries which I am sure
> were properly the
> traditional Irish "Connor" "Conor" or "Conn". The
> registering priest's
> requirement was not only to latinise the name but to
> make it a recognisable
> Saint. The most obvious distortion here is "Honoria"
> - a Roman saint - used
> for the Irish original "Nora" and other variants
> (because there wasn't a
> "Saint Nora"!). The problem is compounded by people
> believing that these
> Latin concoctions were in fact their real names so
> they also begin to use
> them in formal circumstances such as gravestones.
> There is a good article on
> first names by Jane Lyons at
> "
> Surnames. In Church records surnames were spelt in
> English, as there was no
> Latin equivalent.
> In the early 19th century the majority of the
> population were effectively
> illiterate, and as such they would have had little
> idea of how their name
> should be spelt in their native Gaelic let alone in
> English or Latin. There
> was
> no 'Standard' concerning spelling generally and
> certainly not when the
> subject was the conversion of a Gaelic surname into
> English. McLysaghts
> books on Irish Surnames weren't available in the
> early 19th century. This
> lack of any standards of translation and spelling
> would explain the wide
> variations in spelling of surnames, and confusion
> about the 'tribal' origins
> of the family.
> The following is an example of surname spelling
> variations in my Dowling
> family.
> James Dooling (who was James Dowling when he died in
> Australia) Married Mary
> Sullivan. Their children were Baptised in Ballylooby
> Co. Tipperary as
> Dooling, Doolin, Dooly, Doolan, Dowling, Douling and
> Doolon. It would appear
> the spelling was entirely at the whim of the Priest,
> and it was the same
> Priest who Baptised one child as Dooly and another
> as Doolan!
> Whether these people were historically Dooleys or
> Dowlings is neither here
> nor there, and impossible to pursue. The
> pronunciation of any of the names
> is the same regardless of the spelling, 'DO LEN',
> quite a surprise I must
> say when I discovered I hadn't been pronouncing my
> name correctly!
> This variation of spelling is quite typical amongst
> my Tipperary ancestors
> and I would assume typical enough amongst other
> 'uncommon' names which
> hadn't attracted a standardized spelling. My Hylands
> were also Healan,
> Heelan, and Healam.
> Names with 'standardized' spelling I would give as
> examples are, Kelly,
> Ryan, Murphy, Sullivan, Butler, Bourke (Burke!). The
> spelling of those
> surnames doesn't seem to be all that open to
> variation, probably because
> they were so common, or prominent that they
> attracted a standardized
> spelling.
> There is also the possibility of simple mistakes in
> spelling on other
> documents such as ships passengers lists. Bourke and
> Rourke immediately come
> to mind as names which could easily be mistaken as
> being the same.
> Transcribing mistakes are also another factor.
> Different researchers have
> presented different spellings for the same Baptism
> or Marriage record. I
> wonder how accurately the typed names in some
> sections of the Griffiths
> Valuation were transcribed from the hand-written
> 'House Books' and 'Field
> Books'.
> Aliases. I only know of one example of this. For
> reasons unknown a branch of
> my Tipperary Dowlings decided in the 1840s to change
> their name to Kelly.
> The descendants who came to Australia were Kellys,
> others who came later
> were Dowling-Kellys. At least one family member who
> stayed behind stuck with
> Dowling.
> It's important not to get hung up on what is
> currently the spelling of a
> surname, always be prepared to widen your search. It
> took 15 years of
> research to find Stephen Dowling, I hadn't figured
> on him being Stephen
> Dolan!
- ------------------------------------------------------------------

Dan Hogan

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