Genealogy Chat

Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

Welcome to the Genes Reunited community boards!

  • The Genes Reunited community is made up of millions of people with similar interests. Discover your family history and make life long friends along the way.
  • You will find a close knit but welcoming group of keen genealogists all prepared to offer advice and help to new members.
  • And it's not all serious business. The boards are often a place to relax and be entertained by all kinds of subjects.
  • The Genes community will go out of their way to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Quick Search

Single word search

New Scottish Census

New Scottish census records

Do you have Scottish ancestors?

Perhaps you do and you just didn't know! Search our brand new Scottish census records today and discover if you have Scottish roots.

Search Scottish Census


  • New posts
  • No new posts
  • Thread closed
  • Stickied, new posts
  • Stickied, no new posts

tips or ideas re change of name?

Page 0 + 1 of 4

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. »
ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 11:48


I dont know whether anyone can help me with this. I have previously posted a thread on trying to find - but it would seem that no one could help.

I have a relative who appears to have changed his name between the date of his daughter's birth and her marriage. i cannot seem to find his on the 1881 census [just after his daughter birth] or the 1901 census [just after his daughter's wedding.

I do not know his date of birth, I have searched for his marriage over a 7 year period [around the time of his daughter's birth] with no luck. I have found a date of death for the same name, but without other details I am guessing that this is him.

Can anyone think of why you would change your surname - as a male? He has put himself down on both of the certs i have in front of me as 'vocalist' and 'theatrical' so i wondered if it was anything to do with a stage name - however, his daughter [on the marriage cert] has changed her name too!! i thought if i found a reason it would give me a clue where to look next.

i have even looked for his 'wife' under her maiden name, his first name and his changed name and his daughter under both names.

i feel that i must be missing something here - and so wondered if any of you could think of why the change of name? where would i find out the information when i dont know when he changed the name or where?

many thanks in anticipation.



AuntySherlock Report 14 Apr 2009 12:32

Elaine, You mentioned looking at the 1881 and 1901 census and not being able to find the relative.
Could he have been out of the country at the times of the census. If he was an entertainer he may have had a job to go to elsewhere.

Is he mentioned on the 1891 census?

Have you tried alternative spellings for the names. Are the names close in sound or spelling so it may just be someone listening and writing down the name incorrectly.

Have you searched other web sites or tried putting in a request for matches on GR trees.

If you obtain his death certificate from GRO you may find additional info to search on. However, of all the certificates, the death cert seems to be the least accurate.

If you would like someone to search on names for you, are you able to provide either of the names he went by.


lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 12:50

hi Val,

he went by the names of Samuel Sneath in 1875 and Samuel Stowers Snow in 1898. his daughter was Margaret May Sneath when she was born and Snow when she was married to Albert Wood. Samuel's 'wifes' maiden name was Ayers.

i think i have probably tried the 1891 census - i have tried that many my head is spinning - but i will try again - thanks. the reason i have concentrated on the two census' mentioned is because i know he was in the country then and he was still alive.

i have searched other websites - geneologist, family search, and this site. i am now in the process of trying to search addresses on the certs i have.

this is really puzzling and frustrating me!!!



Madmeg Report 14 Apr 2009 13:15

Elaine, what part of the country are we looking at?

I have a relative who was a musician, he was often in different parts of the country with his "band" and spent most summers in the Isle of Man. He also changed his name (though not his surname) eventually being buried as Hilton Horton Bertram D'Cardonel Rodgers!!!



Julie Report 14 Apr 2009 13:17

Have you gone back further on Samuel

I was helping someone on here once & they had a similar thing, what had happen with this one was they had reverted to the Wife/Mothers Maiden name...but have no idea why though


lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 13:24

Hi Maggie,

well - when his daughter was born it was Gateshead, Durham[1875]. when she was married [1898] the address he gives is Sparkbrook, Birmingham?

i have no idea where they were inbetween or after - which is what is puzzling me. i have even tried to trace his wife's family to see if she and the baby stayed with them, whilst he was travelling - but no luck!!!



lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 13:25

Hi Julie,

no i am really stuck. i have no connections for him other than his wife and daughter!!



lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 14:07


Val - i have searched the 1891 census with no luck!!! sob! sob!

yes Patricia - i dont understand name changes either. i have just spent nearly 2 hours searching for the 2 know addresses i have and have now got the biggest headache!!!! [i think i need a cup of tea and a break!]

i am beginning to think that he must have been the biggest cad alive at the time!!! name change [was he in trouble?] didnt marry!! [well not that i can find anyway] and what happened to his wife [maybe he killed her!!!!!]

going to put the kettle on - will be back in a tic


Selena in South East London

Selena in South East London Report 14 Apr 2009 15:20

Is he one of these?

Births Jun 1841 Sneath Samuel Basford 15 424

Births Dec 1841 Sneath Samuel William Sneath Norwich 13 230

Christening: 09 MAY 1841 Nuthall, Nottingham, England


Sorry hit the submit button before I finished!


mgnv Report 14 Apr 2009 15:41

The most common reason for a male to change his name is for him to take his stepfathers name, so rather than looking for who he married for an explanation, try checking into who his mum married.

There are associated variations - he's born under his mum's name and only adopts his real dad's name when his dad and mum marry - this happened with my gg gran's son, who was an adult when she married his dad.

Selena in South East London

Selena in South East London Report 14 Apr 2009 15:46

Elaine, I know you don't know his date of birth but can you give us his 'wife's Ms Ayers details, name, place of birth. Allso if you have found her on a census



lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 16:06

Thanks Selena - I thought everyone had given up!!

the Nottingham one 'sounds' more likely - simply because i am Nottingham based.

I am afraid I dont know anymore details about his 'wife' than I have already said - and those details are from the birth cert of her daughter.

i have looked for her on all the census' and can find no Eliza and Samuel that have a daughter called Margaret or May. I have also tried to find her parents - but again just a stab in the dark. I am [prob wrongly] assuming that one of them came from Gateshead as their daughter's birth was registered there.

the only Eliza Snow i have managed to find any connection for - who has a daughter called Margaret [of about the right age] is married to a William - this is the 1881 census. this William was born in Arnold, Yorkshire and living in Gainsborough


lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 16:10


how on earth did you unravel your family tree? it sounds a nightmare! ancestors are so thoughtless when it comes to us tracing our history - i think i might just change my name once or twice before i die just to make life REALLY difficult for anyone wanting to trace me!!!

i dont know his parents details so i cannot check this out - however i will look up what Selena has sent to me and get back if any of it rings any bells!!



lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 16:31


checked out the Samuel that you found for me - he was married to a Hannah in the 1881 census.

do you think that maybe him and Eliza didnt marry, but just put that on the birth cert?



Madmeg Report 14 Apr 2009 16:48

Here's his family in 1861

England Census
about Samuel Sneath
Name: Samuel Sneath
Age: 14
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1847
Relation: Son
Father's Name: Samuel
Mother's Name: Margaret
Gender: Male
Where born: Norwich, Norfolk, England

Civil Parish: Norwich St Stephen
Ecclesiastical parish: St Stephen
County/Island: Norfolk
Country: England

Street address:


Condition as to marriage: View Image

Registration district: Norwich
Sub registration district: Mancroft
ED, institution, or vessel: 14
Neighbors: View others on page
Household schedule number: 21
Household Members: Name Age
Samuel Sneath 45
Margaret Sneath 38
Margaret Sneath 19
Samuel Sneath 14
Joshua Sneath 4

And a marriage of parents, Samuel Sneath to Margaret Stowers, March 1849, Norwich. So that explains the Stowers bit.

Now thinking about Snow - is the certificate you have a transcription of the original, in which case it could have been mistranscribed. I had one of these, it took me 3 attempts to get them to write the correct name.


PS family also there in 1851 and 1871.

No sign yet of a sensible marriage. But leave no stone unturned!


Madmeg Report 14 Apr 2009 16:55

Samuel Snr is a prisoner in 1851 - perhaps Samuel jnr changed his name when he found out.



Madmeg Report 14 Apr 2009 16:59

Free BMD birth:

Name: Samuel Sneath Stowers Stowers
Year of Registration: 1846
Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep
District: Norwich
County: Norfolk
Volume: 13
Page: 262 (click to see others on page)

It does actually show him with a forename and surname Stowers - possible mistake?



Madmeg Report 14 Apr 2009 17:01

Sister Margaret born Sep 1840 is registered as Margaret Stowers.



mgnv Report 14 Apr 2009 17:02

Elaine - it wasn't so bad as this happened in Aberdeenshire, and Scottish certificates are much more informative than English ones. On the negative side, Aberdeenshire had the third highest illegetimacy rate in the UK, at 13+%, (about twice the English rate), although not all my relatives came from Aberdeenshire. This, too, has a negative side, as those who didn't come from Aberdeenshire came from Banffshire where the rate was slightly higher.

The net effect is that I've got dead-ends in my tree where I can put a name & occup in a box, but never get further back than that in most cases.
My dad's step-father's b.cert names his father as his mum's husband. I'm inclined to think this unlikely - partly because it seems so out of character for his mum, and partly as her husband had been dead for over two years. Some 70 y later, my step-grandad and his daughter were near his birthplace visiting his grandchild, and as they passed a particular building, he told his daur his real dad engaged in such and such an occup there, so, although he never named his dad, we now know from the census who that really was.


lainie39 Report 14 Apr 2009 19:12


so - and i am sorry for being thick here - why do you think Samuel would not change his name until between 1875-1898? [as he is still Sneath on the birth cert.] do you think that he was just looking for a new name and wanted to disassociate himself from his family - maybe because he was already married?

do you think that he never actually married his daughter's mother - but just adopted the child into his family? i did think of this, but thought that the mother's parents would be left to bring up the child [not his wife!] - as he would not want his wife to know and everyone else to know about the illegtimacy?