In some of my families, first names are repeated. And repeated. When writing about these individuals, clarification is necessary–to keep the reader and the writer from getting confused. Pick a style and stick with it. A few options are:

  • James Rampley (born 1803)
  • James Rampley (son of Thomas)
  • James Rampley (born 1803, son of Thomas)

In some families the third option might be the best as there could even be repetition of father-son relationships. The key is to be clear. Sometimes when writing the person to whom you are referring is obvious. Sometimes it is not.

Clarify, clarify, clarify.



4 Responses

  1. I also find the problem when an article or history obiturary doesn’t give last name when talking about a Charles Gaines or Charles Millay. Two differ families but both have many of the same names on both sides at the same time & place. I’ve found the article then just uses first name so then I don’t know who they r talking about. Gets confusing.

  2. I have 3 Grover Buell direct ancestors in my mother’s line. I had to work out just such a system to make certain I had the correct one!
    Grover BUELL (1732), Grover BUELL (1759), and Grover BUELL (1794).
    And there’s also a Grover Buell (1785) – a collateral relative as indicated by lower case surname.
    Plus several additional ones with Grover in their middle name – my great-grandfather was James Grover “Grove” TERWILLIGER.

  3. In my tree there are several surnames that have repeated first names. My maiden name is only one of them. I realize now, it was merely a ‘training’ ground for when I got back a few more generations. There are so many Johns, Valentines, Abrahams and Josephs with the same surname. Some even first cousins, born in the same year but to different fathers! Trying to track down my fifth great-grandfather (one of the Valentines) has been made all the more difficult because he had a first cousin born in the exact same year, allegedly in the same place. Two of the Josephs were uncle to nephew (nephew having been born the year before and named for his maternal grandfather), both died a year apart, too. As it stands several family trees I have come upon have the nephew, Joseph, married three times, instead of twice, giving him his uncle’s wife as his ‘third’. :O The Valentines have also been mixed up. Some trees giving my fifth great-grandfather the wife of his cousin, besides his own three wives! Because of this confusion, I’ve made it a point to extrapolate my tree SIDEWAYS, so that I can keep them all straight just for me. YIkes.

  4. One family has Matilda after Matilda. It appears that one man married a woman with another name and changed her name to Matilda!

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