Thursday, 25 July 2013

Name variants

I am aware that there are many variants of given names in the nineteenth century in Scotland and England. I am more familiar with Scottish names but will try and include English ones too.

This is to help you unravel who is who in censuses and vital records, for example Jessie and Janet were interchangeable names in the past. I spent a long time hunting for a birth record for a Janet who was registered as Jessie.  Nowadays Jessie could be short for Jessica.

In Scotland there was a fairly limited set of used given names. Perhaps for that reason people liked to vary them, to distinguish them from their cousin or aunt/uncle of the same name.

In the Highlands, in particular, it was common to add an -ina to a male name eg Donaldina, Mathewina, Williamina so Ina could stand for any of those.

Often the initial letter would be changed eg Meg or Peg (Margaret), Molly or Polly (Mary), Maisie or Daisy (Margaret), Bob or Rob (Robert), Billy or Willie (William),  Dick or Rick for Richard.

I do not claim this list to be complete or fool proof. Families often do their own thing. We have a Helen who was also twice recorded as Alice. My husband has an uncle Wug!  Please feel free to share your family's pet names in the Comments below.


Girls' names

Name for Name Notes
Annie Ann Anne
Bel, Belle, Bella Isabella, Isabel
Betsy Elizabeth
Betty Elizabeth
Christian Christina old Scottish variant of Christina
Cissy Sarah, Catherine
Daisy Margaret
Ella Helen, Ellen
Etta Henrietta
Euphan Euphemia old Scottish, interchangeable
Fanny Frances
Grizzel, Grissal Grace old Scottish variant of Grace
Hannah Ann English, interchangeable
Hattie Harriet
Hettie Henrietta
Ina Williamina, Donaldina etc
Janet Janette, Jeanette
Jean Jane Scottish, interchangeable.
Jeanie Jean, Jane
Jennie Jennifer, Janet
Jessie Janet Scottish, interchangeable.
Kate, Katie Katherine, Catherine, Kathleen
Kitty Katherine, Catherine, Kathleen English
Lizzie, Liz Elizabeth
Madge Margaret, Marjory, Margery English
Maggie Margaret
Maisie Margaret Scottish
Mary Ann Marian, Marion spelling variation
May Mary Scottish variant of Mary or a name in its own right
Meg Margaret
Mina Williamina, Wilhelmina
Minnie Marian, Marion
Molly Mary
Nan Agnes, Ann
Nancy Agnes
Nell, Nellie Helen, Ellen
Nessie Agnes
Netta, Nettie Janet
Peg, Peggy Margaret
Polly Mary
Rena Catherine
Rita Margaret
Sadie Sarah
Senga Agnes Senga is a modern 20th C variant. It is Agnes backwards!

Boys' names


Name for name Notes
Alex, Alec, Eck Alexander
Andy Andrew
Archie Archibald
Bert Robert
Bill, Billy William
Bob, Bobby Robert
Drew Andrew modern
Harry Henry, Harold
Jack James
Jim James
Patrick Peter Irish/Scottish interchangeable
Rab, Rabbie, Rob, Robbie Robert
Sandy Andrew
Shug Hugh
Will, Willie, Wull, Wullie William

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