I have some confusing, conflicting sources that suggest that the one woman went by two different names. They relate to the parents of Cyril Albert Victor House, born in 1897. His christening record indicates that he was the son of Albert and Martha House, christened in Kingswood, Gloucester, England.

The family turns up in the 1911 Census, stating that they had been married 19 years, so married in 1891 or 1892.

Cyril also turns up with his father Albert in the 1901 Census, but here Albert’s wife is called Pattie. The ages are more or less consistent and the birthplace (Bridport, Dorset) is the same. I can also find Albert and Pattie in the 1891 Census before Cyril was born.

I have been unable to find a marriage record for this couple in 1891–2. FreeBMD and Ancestry both turn up the same results for a search on Albert Edward House, one with an Annie Elizabeth Young, married in Keynsham, which is consistent with their location, but the ages of the spouses don’t match those of the couple I know from Census records, among other things. (The groom’s father’s name is also wrong, for a start – I am pretty sure I have identified Albert in earlier Census records.) The other is with an Ellen Axten, married near London in Brentford. They turn up in a different 1901 Census record, with no child called Cyril, so they can’t be right.

So the lack of a marriage record is puzzling, but so is the apparent name change. If it hadn’t been for that “years of marriage” field in the 1911 Census, I might have assumed that this was a second marriage and that Martha was Cyril’s stepmother. But then why was she Martha in the christening record in 1897, but Pattie in 1901? Another possibility is that they never actually married legally, and Pattie changed her name to Martha to avoid family repurcussions.

So my question is, how common was it for women of this era to go by different names in different official records?

For what it's worth, I've found the marriage record - in 1889! Someone's arithmetic wasn't so good. Her maiden name was Martha Fowler, daughter of Samuel Fowler, a mariner.

2 Answers 2


I suspect that your Martha and Pattie are the same people.

  1. It is known for nicknames / pet names to be used on the British census - not as a matter of course, but it's not unknown.

  2. The "What's In a Name" web-site has an entry for Pattie indicating that it can be used as a pet-name for Martha. It suggests that "areas of the southern United States, pre-1776, used Patsy (a variant of Pattie / Patty) as a pet name, occurring in many official records, for Martha. " The proposed (but uncertain) derivation for this practice is the use of Pattie as a pet-name in Scotland for the Gaelic name Moireach, which Anglicizes to Martha. You can take your choice for which route the usage took to your family - back across the Atlantic or down from Gaelic Scotland.

  3. More probably, Patty is formed from Matty, which is a more obvious dimunitive for Martha. The M -> P transformation is quite common when forming diminutives such as Margaret -> Meggie-> Peg(gie) and Molly -> Polly (as at https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/3631/104)

  • 1
    This is awesome, thanks! Now if I can just find that marriage record...
    – Verbeia
    Dec 1, 2013 at 20:50
  • 1
    For what it's worth, I've found the marriage record - in 1889! Someone's arithmetic wasn't so good. Her maiden name was Martha Fowler, daughter of Samuel Fowler, a mariner.
    – Verbeia
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:27
  • Also FWIW, blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/05/12/… supports Martha = Patty.
    – user104
    May 12, 2015 at 14:35

Albert and Martha House (also known as Pattie) are part of my family history search so interesting you picked up on this name.

Pattie was her nickname.

Martha brought up my great grandmother (she was her aunt).

  • Welcome to G&FH SE! As a new user be sure to take the 2-minute Tour because this site works differently to bulletin boards, discussion forums and other Q&A sites which you may be used to. It will strengthen your answer if you can perhaps edit it to include some additional sources for what you know related to the use of Pattie as a nickname for Martha - perhaps you have letters from your great grandmother or a photo referring to Martha as "Aunt Pattie"?
    – PolyGeo
    May 10, 2015 at 23:56
  • Thanks Clare! So you are Gertrude Fowler's great-granddaughter? She turned up in one of the Census records for the couple.
    – Verbeia
    Jul 5, 2015 at 12:04

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