Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1997-05 > 0862524771

From: Patty Lindsay and Lee Fuell <>
Date: Thu, 01 May 1997 22:12:51 +0000


Linda Merle posted a good explanation of spelling changes earlier
today, but to summarize: Until rather recently, name spelling was
pretty much optional, and a lot of semi-literate or illiterate folks
(no offense, most of my ancestors were illiterate) had no idea how
to spell their names, so when a census taker or parish register
clerk or whatever recorded the name, they just wrote it down however
they thought it should be spelled based on the sound. As
generations progressed and people became more literate, they
selected and standardized their own spellings. For example, I have
Scots-Irish Lay ancestors and current cousins who spell the name
Lay, Lea, and Leigh - but all pronounced the same. As for my
English surname, it has gone from Fuell to Fuel to Fewell and back
to Fuell through generations. Sometimes you'll see census entries
10 years apart that are clearly for the same family (same first
names, same children, etc) with significantly different surname
spellings. That's a large part of the reason for the Soundex system
of indexing census data.

In other words, I wouldn't make too much of all these spelling

Take care,

Lee Fuell

Patty Lindsay & Lee Fuell
Beavercreek (Dayton), Ohio

Patty's Genealogy Home page:

Patty's USGenWeb Project pages:


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