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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2010-01 > 1263330275

From: "Cliff. Johnston" <>
Subject: Re: [S-I] Fw: failure notice -- eh, surnames!
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2010 15:04:35 -0600
References: <>


Well written.

Cliff. Johnston
"May the best you've ever seen,
Be the worst you'll ever see;"
from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay
----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2:41 PM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Fw: failure notice -- eh, surnames!

> Hi Sarah, our modern minds tend to think of our surnames and their
> spelling as fixed because we've been brainwashed by generations of
> teachers to believe there is a right and a wrong way to spell not only
> every word but surnames too. Unfortunately this is a modern notion, not
> taught in school rooms of the past. This is assuming too our ancestors
> were in schoolrooms. Actually they were not. Some were in the hedgerow
> schools, most were hoeing potatoes, learning to be blacksmiths, earning
> livings at a very young age. So it didn't much matter what was taught in
> schools.
> Furthermore even if they had a firm notion how to spell their name, the
> magistrate, cleric, or whoever writing down their name to tax them,
> register the birth or marriage, etc., didn't much care about the opinion
> of a semi or completely illiterate farmboy. That farmboy ancestor would
> certainly not have challenged a magistrate or cleric as he had been firmly
> educated in the importance of paying respect to one's betters. They were,
> after all, in Great Britain.
> A friend of mine married a lad of Irish origin who was raised in northern
> England. He is not 150 years old -- just 60 or so, yet he was also trained
> to stand aside, remove his hat and look at the earth when his betters
> passed by.
> Almost everyone was better than him. His mum taught him well his position
> in the social pecking order: the bottom.
> Whether this is still taught to children there, I do not know. I know my
> middle class English friend who lives in London with his Iranian wife and
> children does not think it strange or insulting that at his children's
> "public school" (private, to us Americans) certain people whose children
> are always much lighter skinned than his children will never, ever
> acknowledge his or his children's existence. I am an American and was
> raised differently, of course, so I would not put up with this stuff but
> would get my child expelled for sure due to my behavior....but our
> ancestors did or, when they got too uppity, they had to make a fast exit
> for America or end up hung from the limb of a tree.
> Generally surnames got spelled phonetically -- so you can go by that. Of
> course there were many different accents so one man's phonetics might
> differ greatly from your own!
> Usually at the 'start' of a serious genealogical project you must spend
> some time identifying spelling variants so you can be sure to check them
> all subsequently. One way to do this is use IGI -- it'll turn up phonetic
> synonyms.
> However you do find them 'later on'. You keep a list of these and try to
> always check all variants in books, databases, etc....which is hard to do
> consistently.
> Regarding the Scottish/Scotch-Irish thang, alas, just 300 years ago our
> ancestors all spoke the same language over there. It was called "Gaelic".
> Before 1600 Scots Gaelic was not different enough from Irish to be called
> a separate language. Ulster was full of Scots back then but these were
> Gaelic speakers from the highlands and islands. They spoke Gaelic just
> like their cousins the Irish. When the Plantation began, some of these
> guys assimilated into the planter population and some into Irish. Some of
> the Irish assimilated into the planter population -- actually LOTS of them
> did as you can tell by the DNA. So the names were the largely the same.
> People also changed ethnic identity. You find English style surnames
> (place names) that were translated into
> Irish and other strange things. A Gaelic speaker who was a blacksmith,
> might be called 'blacksmith' and his
> sons were sons of the blacksmith: McGowan. If someone with such a moniker
> wanted to become more
> Anglo, he became Smith. And it wasn't hard at all to become a McCowan or
> Cowan -- a name presumed to
> be Scots. Ho ho ho.....check the DNA to be sure. You might be surprised.
> I'm saying it is not true that in 1621 in Ulster all the Scots spoke
> English and were Protestant. In fact a few of
> the planters were Scots Catholics and brought Catholic tenants over from
> Scotland. It was much more confusing.
> In 1500 all the Scots in Ulster were Catholic highlanders. It was illegal
> for Scots to be in Ireland. The
> English removed you if they caught you or just shot you perhaps. Scots of
> any stripe. No King James yet.
> Scots in Ireland were generally mercinary soldiers for the Irish. You
> could try to convince the English otherwise
> if they caught you....or spies for the Scots gov, and that was as bad as
> being a mercinary. The only good
> Scot in Ireland in 1500 was a dead one and the English would oblige you
> willingly.....
> We broke through a multi generation brick wall when I talked my sister
> into going to the courthouse and
> looking for deeds for our dead end ancestor over 50 years. I had read
> about this strategy in a magazine.
> Sure enough, when he was OLD, and not when he first got this land, he
> registered the deed. It was the late
> 1800s and he knew sons would want clear title to this land that had been
> verbally given to him by his dad
> long before. In the deed he named everyone -- father, brothers, cousins --
> anyone who might be alive
> and could swear in court he did own this land and had been given it by his
> father. His father spelled his
> name totally different from our ancestor. They were German. My ancestor
> spelled it Seibert, his father
> Cypert.
> If you are not sure what county or state the ancestor's parents were in or
> from, you take cognisance
> of the settlement pattern. In your case, from the north. Check "Old Wagon
> Road". Read county histories for
> clues. Then start looking. Your ancestor might be named in a deed or will
> that was recorded to the north
> any time from his birth till 80 years after it (to cut a broad swatch).
> Build a spreadsheet and start
> checking published abstracts of deeds and wills, esp. anything on the
> Internet as you can't read all the
> deeds and wills in all the counties. They're only indexed by the name of
> the deceased and grantor/grantee
> anyway. You want an every name index. Then you note the names and the
> counties and the records where
> the surname occurs . If that doesn't turn up your ancestor, you can still
> check counties where the surname
> occurs in more depth. But go to a library first and find published,
> indexed abstracts or transcriptions, not the
> courthouse.
> If the ancestor arrived as a criminal, indentured servant, or just a poor
> person, you will not be able to find
> information on his origins, most likely. Esp. if he was from Ireland. No
> big deal these days ...... do DNA.
> In the case of one Johnston that I am working on, his DNA is north west
> Irish and he seems to be a dead
> ringer for an Ui Neill family that is known to have taken the surname. The
> immigrant's death record in
> 1852 says he was born in County Down. The father also came over -- he was
> a merchant in the early
> 1800s in western PA (tax records) and I just found out from a deed that
> the father had previously lived in
> Baltimore, Maryland. This is not surprising since they were part of the
> St. Vincent mission in the Derry, PA area
> and many of these people did originate as Maryland Catholics. So now
> looking for a middle class
> Catholic family of Johnstons in Co. Down. This is the wrong list to troll
> for such a family <grin>. But it
> is an example. His daughter claimed he was from County Kerry. I do not
> know where she got that,
> but it is possible that his wife was from Kerry or the wife of the son.
> The wife of the son was the daugh
> of a WM Harris from Maryland (who also settled in south west PA), who lost
> his wife soon after the
> birth of the daughter who was raised by Mother Seton in her orphanage (not
> yet verified). Maybe he was from Kerry......but between the death record
> and the DNA I am pretty certain the Johnstons were not from Kerry !! Maybe
> dad was a merchant there though.....something to check out..... About 1822
> they bought over a thousand acres in western PA. Not poor people like my
> ancestors. Dad seems to have done well with the salt trade which started
> about 1820 around here.
> Usually these people appear as Johnstons but they also are recorded as
> Johnsons. I do know that
> in Kerry in the 1600s you had plenty of McShanes. But by the 1800s you had
> Johns(t)ons and no
> McShanes. Everyone had had their surnames anglicized. The Kerry angle
> appears to have been a
> dead end, but the information is still in the old brain cells and will
> come in handy sometime (I hope).
> I had another client, surnamed Melville. Another researcher hadn't had a
> lot of consistent luck with the family
> in the censuses, though they arrived later from Ireland about 1870 or so.
> She failed to look the name up in
> an Irish surname book. The name is also Mulville and Mulvihill in Ireland.
> They were in the census as
> Mulvihill. I asked the client if he'd ever heard this name. No. However
> the Mulvihill family crest was hanging
> over his desk, given to him by his aunt (first generation American). So
> She knew they were Mulvihills.
> The other researcher had told him it was impossible to research family in
> Ireland and to give up, but she
> had found the Irish pot of gold at the end of his rainbow: the marriage of
> his immigrant ancestor in
> central PA that gave the county of origin in Ireland and the names of his
> parents. She was right that she
> didn't know how to do Irish genealogy <grin>. By that time the indexes
> were on line for that county:
> Limerick. I found the ancestor's baptism on line immediately and we had
> the village where he was born
> in Limerick about 1852. The DNA showed he was not related to Mulvihills
> living on the Shannon
> estuary but to the ones in Kerry. Not surprisingly, his family village was
> on the road to Kerry. So apparently
> his ancestors had walked up from Kerry, probably the parents, as they
> weren't married in that parish.
> Kerry records still not on line......
> I became convinced that Rule #1 for Irish genealogy is look the name up in
> a GOOD Irish surname book. You gotta do this because surnames were fluid
> among three languages in the last 400 years: Irish, Scots Gaelic, and
> English. By following this simple rule you can become the family hero or
> heroine and be able to plan a trip back
> home next summer to the village where your ancestors lived. If the
> immigrant grandparents of my client
> forgot to tell him they changed the name on the boat on the way over, you
> can bet that we have lost a lot
> of info about our Scotch Irish ancestors, coming a hundred years earlier.
> So we gotta put our thinking caps
> on.
> I think all the more recently migrated lines that I have had had screw ups
> caused by bad info: My paternal
> paternal line claimed they came through Canada... how odd when I found
> them (finally) on New York passenger
> list about 1870! These were my great grandparents. My paternal maternal
> line claimed they came in 1892. The ship
> name and city where they lived was provided by a great aunt who was on the
> ship. The ship didn't exist.
> I bet she confused it with a similar name: yup, a ship of that name
> crossed the waters constantly during
> that period and I found them on its ship list. However couldn't find them
> in Glasgow. Obtained birth certificate
> of same great aunt ....duh! She was born in another Scottish county all
> together. They boarded the boat in
> Glasgow. She didn't know where she was born. Very nice lady but not a
> detail freak <grin>.
> So a hundred years, I'm amazed any of it makes sense let
> alone that they could spell their last name consistently. That was beyond
> their abilities in most cases, requiring concepts (standardized spelling)
> that were generations away.
> Andrew Johnson said he had no respect for a man who could only spell a
> word one way. Or was that Johnston? No...I was right the first time.......
> Linda Merle
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Sarah" <>
> To:
> Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2:23:52 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
> Subject: [S-I] Fw: failure notice
>> Hi linda Merle,
>> Wondering if this is true?? I had read somewhere??? that
>> these two were different Scotish and one Irish or
>> Scotch-Irish-----Have you had any experience with these two names.
>> Casey -
>> Cayce. My line is Cayce of
>> SC and goes several generations back to 1756 The Cayce line connects with
>> the Farmer, Friday, Fleming and Sallis lines in GA, MS in late 1700s and
>> 1800s.
>> Can you shed some light on this family name. His answer doesnt seem right
>> but may be.??
>> Thanks,
>> Sarah
>> Original Message -----
>> From: "Cliff. Johnston" <>
>> To: <>
>> Sent: Saturday, January 09, 2010 8:23 PM
>> Subject: Re: [CASEY] Cayce/Casey
>>> Semi-literate people before the standardization of surname spelling ca.
>>> the
>>> mid to late 1800's for the most part spelled all surnames phonetically.
>>> This meant that if they had an accent that was included too. I've run
>>> into
>>> this with my Johnston/e family. In the 1500's in one county alone in
>>> Scotland I came across a document that had 17 different ways to spell
>>> Johnstone, and none of them included Johnston or Johnstone. It was
>>> considered to be no big deal then as long as the sound of it was the
>>> same.
>>> The advent of passports and other travel documents in the 1800s changed
>>> that
>>> attitude quickly.
>>> By the way, you missed O'Casey ;-)
>>> Cliff. Johnston
>>> "May the best you've ever seen,
>>> Be the worst you'll ever see;"
>>> from A Scots Toast by Allan Ramsay
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Virginia" <>
>>> To: <>
>>> Sent: Saturday, January 09, 2010 7:09 PM
>>> Subject: [CASEY] Cayce/Casey
>>>> Does anyone know how or if the 2 spellings of this name came about?
>>>> Virginia in Seattle
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