Francis was born in 1857. Registrar entry sighted and records only one first name. Original birth record not available.

Electoral rolls from 1905 to 1914 record Francis Joseph and other names and addresses support this is the correct individual.

In 1930:

  1. Francis Joseph was recorded on one son's marriage certificate.

  2. Francis Joseph was recorded on 2 children's birth amendment forms. These were signed Francis Joseph.

  3. Francis was recorded on 2 children's birth amendment forms. These were signed Francis.

As he has recorded his name as Francis Joseph and used it regularly, do I change his actual name to Francis Joseph or do I record Francis Joseph as an Also Known As?

  • It would be worth trying to see if you can find out the protocols followed by the Registrar for 2 part names. You may have to do this by finding other examples. If they deliberately only recorded the first, then you don't know his birth name for certain.
    – AdrianB38
    Apr 17, 2019 at 18:34
  • @AdrianB38 The actions by the particular Registrar was to record all names. While it cannot be ascertained, I was thinking either a mistake by the Registrar (BDM staff have indicated the completion of Registry Records during that period were far from perfect.) It is unfortunate that they do not have access to the original document. My other thought was that the parents intended to name/call him Francis Joseph from the birth, but did not complete the form in full. Father's first name was Joseph.
    – Darren
    Apr 17, 2019 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


I would record both Francis and Francis Joseph as names he used -- my usual preference would be to record the name he was given at birth as his 'main name' and any other name he used as 'AKA'. This aligns with the convention of using a woman's maiden name (name at birth) as her primary name. But others will choose to record his main name as the one they believe he used more frequently.

For example, I have an ancestor whose GRO birth certificate clearly shows him as Stanley Reynolds Wright.

On the census from 1871 to 1901, he is shown as Stanley Wright; at his marriage and on his children's birth and marriage certificates he is shown as Stanley Wright. In the census of 1911 (after he separated from his wife) he is shown as John Wright; ditto for newspaper reports in 1917. In various records of his daughters travels between England and Canada he is shown as Stanley Wright or John Stanley Wright. On his wife's death certificate he is named as John William Wright. And I haven't found his death certificate yet.

I've recorded his main name as Stanley Wright (because the Reynolds name never shows up except on his birth certificate!) with Stanley Reynolds, John, John Stanley and John William as AKA.

  • "Another nice mess you got us into, Stanley..." Sorry, I'll get my coat.
    – AdrianB38
    Apr 17, 2019 at 18:29
  • 2
    @AdrianB38 Indeed -- please leave by the town drain.
    – user6485
    Apr 17, 2019 at 19:00
  • I have taken your suggestion and will record Francis as 'main name' and Francis Joseph as "AKA". I will also do a modification of @Cyn's suggestion and record any name variation as a note within each event.
    – Darren
    Apr 20, 2019 at 8:54
  • @Darren I record one or more sources for each name name variation that are the same sources which support e.g. the census or birth events, rather than use a note but that's personal preference.
    – user6485
    Apr 20, 2019 at 9:02
  • @ColeValleyGirl - Still learning these things. I will do a note so it can be seen easily in my program and also include it in the Source Citation.
    – Darren
    Apr 20, 2019 at 10:28

When I began filling out my tree software (I use Family Tree Maker for the Mac), I used AKA for most of the name variations I found. I found it not to be helpful in tracking those variations. Something that was very useful when looking at dates of other changes or in figuring out which leads to pursue. So I switched everything.

I create a new Name fact for every variation, including married vs maiden names. For example, one of my entries includes the following names:

  • Florence Jane Deutelbaum (preferred)
  • Florence J. Deutelbaum
  • Florence Deutelbaum
  • Florence D. Lutz
  • Florence Luntz
  • Florence J Goldberg
  • Florence Goldberg
  • Florence Gavin

As you can see, she was married twice. Because each separate fact has its own set of sources, I can also usually tell which names are simply mistakes. Sometimes one spelling variation is in multiple official sources and another variation is there once. In this case, both Lutz and Luntz have one source, and it's the same (sort of) newspaper obituary! (Gavin is a name change Florence's son made that she may or may not have chosen to use herself now and again...its only use for her is in obituaries that she was almost certainly not the informant for.)

Because of the individual tracking and careful sourcing, it's easy for me to look at her page and tell you all this, without relying on my memory.

Also Known As

I save the AKA fact for names that don't exist as official names in records. I don't mean standard nicknames. If my example above were ever in, say, a newspaper article as Flo Goldberg, I'd have recorded it as a name. I mean more like her first husband.

Marshall Goldberg

  • AKA Biggie
  • AKA Mad Marshall

How much you can do will depend on your software. If you use Ancestry.com's online trees, for example, you get one main name and then a bunch of also known as's. If you have a serious program though, you'll get to choose.

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