There is a branch of my paternal grandmother's family that I am currently trying to document. I have a copy of her grandfather's (my great grandfather) birth certificate.

Joseph John Holmes Birth Certificate

I apologise for that rather rushed stitching together of two images.

As you can see from this, his fathers name was John William Holmes and his mothers name was Annie Holmes, formerly Wate.

The place of residence is listed as 95 Christian Road.

While searching for records on-line of John Joseph and his family, I have been unable to find any records that match all three names. Annie is always missing. I have tried Ann, Anne, Annie, etc.., but to no avail.

However, there is an 1881 census record that list the father as John Wm Holmes, the son as Joseph John Holmes and the mother as Augusta Holmes. This lists the address of Joseph John's birth as being Commercial Rd.

There is also a young daughter by the name of Annie Augusta Holmes.

Knowing the area quite well (I used to deliver camera equipment in London) I know that Commercial Road in Tower Hamlets, London has a junction with Christian Street. Not only that but 95 is at the end that intersects Commercial street. Link to Google maps for your reference.

So, the questions I am asking are:

  1. Can I be reasonable confident that this census record relates to my ancestors?
  2. Could it be that Annie was a pseudonym for Augusta?
  3. If so, why would she declare her name to be Annie on one offical document and Augusta on another 5 years later?
  • This caught my eye since my GG Aunt Augusta (not yours) inspired my entry into FH. I've never seen Annie as a pseudonym for her. Did you realise that there are 2 John William Holmes baptised in London in 1845? 4 May 1845 to George and Elizabeth Holmes at St Dunstan in the West 9 Nov 1845 to John William and Alecia Holmes at St Botolph, Aldersgate. That would make me want to be sure we're not mixing up 2 households here... Also - Ancestry knows of no "Wat*" or "Wai*" "Holmes" marriage in 1860-90 that looks like yours. Not sure if that covers the possibilities. But do you have the marriage?
    – AdrianB38
    Feb 24, 2013 at 16:01
  • @AdrianB38 - no I don't have that marriage information. The only information I have on this family is the birth certificate above. I only have that because he is a direct ancestor. I too haven't been able to track down the marriage, but that is nothing new. I did locate a census record once for an Augusta Wate which seemed to correspond to a birth index for an Augusta Waite, but I didn't save a record of then as I wasn't sure. I'll see if I can track then down again.
    – AvieRose
    Feb 24, 2013 at 17:14

2 Answers 2


Regarding your specific questions:

1) Can you be reasonable confident that this census record relates to your ancestors?

Answer: The father and son's names match; the address is likely. Can you find any other corroborating evidence, for example, something that would establish that there was a daughter named Annie Augusta Holmes?

2) Can Annie was a pseudonym for Augusta?

Answer: I doubt it. I think it's far more telling that the daughter is named "Annie Augusta."

3) Why is she listed as Annie on one official document and Augusta on another 5 years later?

Answer: It's quite common for people with multiple names to show up in records listed differently. In this case, the mother provided the information for the birth certificate, but who knows who provided the info for the census.

As examples from my own family in the 20th century ... My mother was named "Patricia Roberta"; she shows up in various sources as "Patricia," "Patsy," and "Bobby" -- also depending on who provided the information. Ditto for my aunt Tarz, who shows up as "Betty Jean," "Elizabeth," and "Mary Elizabeth Jane"; she eventually had quite a difficult time because her birth certificate, driver's license, passport, and social security card all listed a different name!

  • After following the family I found with Augusta in the census, I found that there is at least 3 generations of Annie Augustas, so it seems likely that she used both or a combination of her names as you say. Some people really make it difficult for you don't they!
    – AvieRose
    Mar 3, 2013 at 17:12

I think it's reasonable to assume for research that Annie and Augusta are the same woman, but seek a bit more confirming evidence to support it. It's unlikely that 'Annie' is a nickname or other form of the name 'Augusta' (although anything is possible).

The most likely case is that her given name was 'Anne Augusta' and that she generally went by Augusta. The birth record was probably regarded as more important than the census entry by the people supplying or recording the names, and so the less-used but more formal first name was used on the birth record (for whatever reason omitting the middle name), while the census recorded the common name. The fact that her daughter was named 'Annie Augusta' is suggestive that she too was so named. Also, people do at times choose to change what (part of their) name they go by.

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