The following is a Plus Edition article written by George G. Morgan:
One of the first things that a genealogist or family historian learns is that the spellings of names is never an exact thing. I always tell researchers to learn how to mis-spell your ancestors’ names because, heaven knows, they and their contemporaries did it all the time!
Consider the many times that you’ve had to spell your name – forename, middle name(s), and surname – for someone. Your ancestors and their family members had to do the same, assuming they were literate and knew how to spell it themselves. Otherwise, the spelling was left to the chance that whoever was writing it down actually knew how to spell it. There was always the possibility that the person was not tremendously literate. He or she may have been hard of hearing or inattentive, or the person simply spelled what they heard in some phonetic manner. Census documents, ships’ passenger lists, and land records are only a few of the pieces of evidence that contain misspellings. Even tombstones and grave markers contain misspellings.
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