View Full Version : Change of name from KENNARD to KINNAIRD

07-01-2006, 5:07 PM
Thomas KENNARD was born in 1807 in Covent Garden. His parents had the surname KENNARD, his brothers and sisters had the surname KENNARD and they all retained this spelling except for Thomas who not only married as KINNAIRD and appeared in the 1841 census onwards as KINNAIRD, but who also gave his children the surname KINNAIRD.

Could he just change his surname like this or would he have to follow a legal route? Confusion arose for his son, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and his great great grandchildren and finally his great, great, great grandchildren (including me!).

His son was baptised with the name KINNAIRD, was married with that name but was buried as a KENNARD. Thomas' Grand-daughter was marrried as a KENNARD but the certificate was altered 6 months later to read KINNAIRD. The family Bible notes his son's family as KENNARD's. His descendants use the name KINNAIRD but apparently KENNARD has been used in school situations to avoid 'mis-spelling'!! One person believing there to be a Scottish link named all their children with Scottish names, had a kilt made and visited the KINNAIRD seat!

Any suggestions as to whether:
1) you can change your surname and what legal route he must have taken, if any (known record of 1832)
2) What proof of name was required after 1837 i.e. the registration of his son George KINNAIRD
3) What proof of name is required for burial (George was buried in 1926 as KENNARD)
4) Why?!

Thanks if you managed to read my essay and take it in. Once again any suggestions or answers will be greatly appreciated.



Pam Downes
08-01-2006, 12:33 AM
Hi Fiona,
You can call yourself any name you want, provided it is not done with intention to defraud. All you have to do is say to people 'in the future I want you to call me .....'.
You can also legally change your name by deed poll.

In your case it seems to be simply different spellings and you have to remember that surname spelling was not standardised until the late 1800s. Even nowadays a name can quite easily be misspelt on official documents. I am sure that unless I said 'Downes with 'es' at the end' half of the people who wrote my surname would spell it Downs.
Pam Downes

08-01-2006, 1:02 AM
Hi Pam,

Thanks again for replying to my post.

It seems strange that you can change your name in such a way; you could appreciate the slight spelling error of others - mine has been spelt many ways! but you would think that you would keep your spelling of your name no matter how anybody else spelt it, especially if your family spelt it that way.

I was wondering whether he thought himself 'connected' to Lord kinnaird etc. (he was an historical engraver) - although this might be 'fraud' in a sense?

08-01-2006, 2:47 AM
You have to remember back then a lot of our kinfolk were only just learning to read and/or write, some could only sign their name and that's all. So a lot of the time it was up to the person writing the record to spell the name however he thought it sounded. And once they learnt a particular spelling themselves they stuck to it.

My SIMKINS family were just that, consistently, until suddenly a P appeared in one branch in the 1850s leading to a the present day SIMPKINS. One wouldn't expect that! but my Henry was illiterate so it was spelt how the clerk wanted, and it stuck with his children - well, most of them.

A more modern day one - a McMILLAN relation decided that his family would have the spelling MacMILLAN, whereas the ancester seemed quite particular about the use of Mac - a baptism entry having been crossed out and rewritten with Mc.

Another from Kent - JEFFERIES, JEFFREYS both names appear today from the same family, just due to spelling adopted along the way. Many other spellings appear in the birth registration records - for children from the same set of parents. While spelling ended up all the same for a family in modern times, it wasn't always consistent for each branch, thus cousins having different spellings - as you know! and you may well be right, your lot wanted to fit in with the Scottish clan spelling, just like my MacMillan cousin.


08-01-2006, 11:30 AM
Thanks Christine; your research must be a nightmare!