Sometimes I hate the phrase “maiden name.” I know what it means, but there are times that, for one reason or another, trying to determine a female relative’s maiden name can be problematic.
That “last name at first marriage,” which is how maiden name is defined most of the time can be difficult to determine in some families. There is usually not a problem if the woman’s parents were married before her birth, remained living and married to each other until her birth, and if the woman remained in their household until her marriage. The problem is that sometimes life intervenes.
Fathers or mothers die. Parents get divorced. Some families are unable to raise all their children. The relationship that resulted in the child did not result in marriage or was extremely short-lived. All of these situations can result in the last name of a female ancestor at the time of her first marriage to be different than last names under which she is listed in other records before her marriage.
When there are varying “maiden names” for a female ancestor, keep in mind that a lot may have been going on in her life before marriage. The changes in her last name may have just been the least of it.