Married names

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Married names

Post by Bertha » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:20 pm

Long time since I’ve been on the forum but knew where to come to to get an answer (I hope)
I’ve been researching my family for over 20 years and never came across a wife who did not take her husband’s name.
Someone mentioned in another forum that in Scotland this was usual. Is this so and if somjust in certain areas.
I also live in Scotland, do a lot of research for people looking for Scottish Ancestors and have never come across this.
The person on the other forum said they’ve come across it often on the census.
The only case I can see for this is if the couple hadn’t gone through a legal form of marriage.
looking for
Nelson/Neilson,Wood,McDonald,Baillie - East Lothian
McLaren,Ross,Kelly,McEwan,Nicholson,Price/Pryce,Telfer,Robertson, Dickson/Dixon, Gibson,Niven Edinburgh

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Re: Married names

Post by WilmaM » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:44 am

As far as I am aware in Scotland we never legally lose our birth name. We take our husband's surname for convenience, practicality, solidarity etc but are are still B not M.

You will find plenty evidence of this in every cemetery you visit,
'Here lies john X and his wife Jeanie Y'
It crops up on older census records too, the wife gives her 'own name' but she is none the less married. Different regions are more inclined than others ( small fishing communities and remote farming if my memory serves me).

Growing up I frequently heard married women still being called by their maiden names, and still think of many of them interchangeably, there was a strong Ulster/Scots connection which may account for that though.

I'm sure somebody will come along with the full legal situation, in the meantime that's my point of view as a married Scots woman !

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Re: Married names

Post by Currie » Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:06 am

It seems that anything was possible and normal.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10357&hilit=married ... den+retain

Old Scottish newspaper reports about married women, often, or maybe usually, included both maiden and married surnames, such as “Margaret Smith or Jones”.


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Re: Married names

Post by Falkyrn » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:06 pm

Even today under Scots Law a woman retains her birth surname when she marries and any married name or other name is "tagged on" - for example
Mary Jones marries Fred Smith - while for most purposes she may be known as Mary Smith - for any legal purposes she would be referred to as Mary Jones OR Smith (sometimes Mary Smith MS Jones). This is also why you find the two names on gravestones.
Up until some time in the mid 1800's it was also normal for widows to revert to their maiden names for all uses, this is not limited to any one area in Scotland although some rural areas may have hung onto that particular practice for longer.
~RJ Paton~

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Re: Married names

Post by trish1 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:25 am

All the wills I have from Scotland refer to married woman as Mary Smith or Jones (both when making the will or as beneficiaries) - as mentioned by others. I find the census is hit and miss. A majority of my ancestors use their married names but a significant number are listed under their birth names Once I realised this it was easy to find my missing people.


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Re: Married names

Post by runmerry » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:54 pm

I have been indexing records for the 18th century for a long time now and married women in them are always referred to in their maiden names never with the husbands name e.g. Mary Smith spouse of or relict of David Jones.
The only exception being where both had the same surname originally.


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Re: Married names

Post by killearnan » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:25 pm

In my research, it's been around 1860 to 1870 that I start to find women listed just by a married name in some records ~ especially census returns.

Before that {definitely in the Borders and often elsewhere}, women in records {church records, census returns} are called by their birth/maiden name. A sample from 1861 in Cavers is here: ... ed-public/ Margaret Cant had a daughter Margaret Grieg, who married William Little.

McGee (Donegal to Edinburgh), Jamieson/Guthrie (Leith), Keddie (Peebles, Galashiels), Little (Cavers, Traquair), Arthur (Galashiels) , Paterson (Edinburgh, with occ. spells in Stirling, Greenock, Leith), Ralston (Glasgow to Stirling), Greig (Elgin)

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