Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2011-12 > 1323987820

Subject: Re: [S-I] Surname Spellingssss in Deeds/Wills by Clerks
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 22:23:40 +0000 (UTC)
In-Reply-To: <>

Hi Dave,

My Irish is extremely rudimentary, and I am not being humble but stating a fact. However I recall that there are problems with Irish because it is so different at different ends of Ireland, in the different Gaeltachts. So someone came up with a Dublin version which makes no one happy. In some circles to speak actual Ulster Gaelic is considered the best. I do know a fellow who speaks it and we could ask him your question if no one else knows which is proper Ulster Irish. I seem to recall being taught that Sionnach was fox and I was learning Dublin Irish (forgive me....).

Apparently the differences can be used to help identify where your ancestors came from. The A in McCamie (etc) is supposedly a sound unique to Ulster Irish. Or so I was told.

And I learned that Mulvihill in America is Melville <GRIN>. They forgot that one one census. So the American genealogist employed before me couldn't find them. She was right that she didn't do Irish genealogy <grin>. I stuck to my principles and looked the name up in McLysaght and became a heroine thanks to him.


----- Original Message -----
From: "D H" <>
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 3:08:32 PM
Subject: Re: [S-I] Surname Spellingssss in Deeds/Wills by Clerks

Eye bee leave yew...Linda.

As Boyd says 'Most people could not read nor write - check out the 1901 Census'... it is these spellings etc that actually add a little colour to our
ancestors rather than just a list of names/age and are a wonderful little insight into the people involved.

...'education became compulsory in 1880 and it obviously took a generation for that to work its way through to adult spelling in documents'...even
carried into 1911 which shows how slow standardization (=sterilization) took...

While at school Gaelic was son is in school but his Gaelic is completely different to what I learned, for example a Fox was 'Madra
Rua' it is 'Sionnach', but if my sons ask me to help with a word he is told it is wrong.. so which one of us is correct??

A fluent Gaelic speaker in Kerry does not understand what a fluent Gaelic speaker from Donegal is saying....because it is a different language! as is
Scot's Gaelic, Manx Gaelic etc...While they have a common origin, each one developed over time independently....Similarly names changed in different

Times were hard in 1700's/1800's so who cared if their name was spelled correctly or not...many didn't even know how to spell it, they could pronounce
it and that is all that mattered to them.

I haven't even checked my own baptism record.. I presume it is correct, but what if it is not? Do future generations presume I could not spell if it
is incorrect?

How many people today check their church records??


(P.S. My grandparents weren't illiterate.. :-)) but they can't tell me what the correct spelling is due a slight difficulty....they died!!)

On 15/12/2011 17:59, wrote:
> From:
> Subject: Re: [S-I] Surname Spellingssss in Deeds/Wills by Clerks
> To:
> Message-ID:
> <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Hi Dave, we need to give up the notion of 'correctness' when researching surnames. That's a 20th century notion -- a correct way to spell a surname. It assumes the person spelling it knows what the correct spelling is, but when your grandparents were illiterate, how could they possibly tell you what the correct spelling 'is'? There is no correct spelling because the name actually had never been written down, except by some priests and clerks.

To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message

This thread: