I have asked questions relating to Alexander Campbell Harris before.

You may recall that I had issues with his year of birth due to differences between the information on the marriage and death certificate.

Taking the information from the marriage certificate his fathers name was Samuel Harris and his fathers profession was Mechanical Engineer.

On his marriage certificate his name is just Alexander Harris (it is only on his death certificate where his name is recorded as Alexander Campbell Harris).

By using the age at time of death (instead of marriage) it would make his birth 1875.

Family members have always said that there is a Scottish link here because of Campbell. So I decided to use FindMyPast first and the census logs and came up with:


The fathers name and profession is correct and the Alexander there is the right age. But it did not mention a middle name of Campbell.

So I decided to take things further and went to https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk and found Alexander's birth entry there:


  • M
  • 1875
  • 595/ 29
  • Irvine

I purchased credits to view the original document, which contains more information (such as actual date of birth, mothers maiden surname and date of marriage). He is certainly the Alexander Harris from the 1881 census log.

Parents info:


How can I know if this is our Alexander [Campbell] Harris? Is it possible that Campbell crept in later or is this not going to be the right person?

Alexander marriageinfo:


Another angle to consider

I wanted to add a spin on this. If you look here it discusses the clan Campbell. It mentions about Ayr:

The Campbell’s also held the Earldom of Loudoun in Ayrshire, which spawned a host of lairdships there.

The earliest parts of Loudoun Castle east of Kilmarnock /Ayrshire were built for the Craufurds in the 1400s. The castle was extended by the Campbell’s in the 1600s and again by Flora Mure-Campbell in the early 1800s into one of Ayrshire’s most stately homes.

So could that also be a reason why possibly Campbell was added by the family later in life? I say this because Irvine is in Ayrshire.

  • 1
    Was the mother's maiden surname Campbell? Are there other family members with that name or maiden surname? Aug 19, 2019 at 21:01
  • @sempaiscuba I don’t think it is the mothers surname. See updated question. According to the census log Campbell does not show up. Aug 19, 2019 at 21:08
  • Hmm. According to the linked question, he also signed his name as "Alexander Campbell Harris" on his marriage certificate? Aug 19, 2019 at 21:12
  • @sempaiscuba Well, yes, on Alexander’s children’s marriage certificates they refer to their dad as Alexander Campbell. Aug 19, 2019 at 21:15
  • 2
    No, that is not quite the same thing. You said that on his marriage certificate, he "... signed it as "Alexander Campbell Harris" and that he "... stated that his father was "Samuel Harris". The distinction is important. If he signed his name as "Alexander Campbell Harris" on his marriage certificate, that shows it was the name he used when he was alive. If the name appears only on his death certificate then that information was provided by someone else, and so may not be correct! Aug 19, 2019 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


I have an 1841 baptism in Scotland followed by an 1864 Directory in San Francisco where the middle initial C creeps in for the first time. Subsequent records show that the C stood for Constable, his mother's birth family name. So that's one example of a name creeping in after baptism.

His elder half brother (my GG-GF) never had a middle name but when his 3rd wife died, years after his death in 1901, her relatives bestowed a middle name on him matching his mother's maiden name.

GG-GF's youngest daughter also acquired a middle name after her birth registration, presumably because she was named for her father's sister but they'd forgotten to add the middle name.

So it happens - but there's a reason for all those.

  • Hi I added another line of reasoning for the use of Campbell. See updated question. Nov 28, 2020 at 22:50

OK, I might have hit bingo on the definitive answer for why Alexander Harris (who was born in Irvine, Scotland in 1875) sometimes used the middle name Campbell.

I located the actual scanned images from ScotlandPeople website for the Harris family for the years:

  • 1841
  • 1851
  • 1861
  • 1881
  • 1891
  • 1901

Not yet reviewed 1871 etc because I ran out of credits. 😊

Anyway, after inputting the information into my family tree:

enter image description here

I started to get lots of hints, including potential parents for William Harris (who was Alexander Harris Grandparents). Look at the hint for his Great Grandmother:

enter image description here

Her name is Elizabeth Campbell, born in Ireland. I admit that I have not thoroughly researched these latest hints because I don't like blindly accepting them, and I don't have a paid subscription anyway.

My gut feeling that this is the real reason why Alexander sometimes used this middle name. It was his great grandmothers surname. Now, as to the extra significance of her being from Ireland ... who knows.


I have since purchased the digital image for the death of William Harris on 31 May 1859 in Irvine and it confirms his parents were John Harris and Elizabeth Campbell.

This is the first official ancestor for Alexander [Campbell] Harries where this surname was used.

Suffice to say, I did not blindly add the proposed hint into my tree it I have added the parents names.

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