Monday, 15 September 2008
Deviants and variants
It turns out that the transcription errors in the 1841 and 1881 censuses that I called "variants" are in fact "deviants".
What's the difference?
A variant is a local change of surname spelling. It may start out as a spelling error when a member of the family or a clerk spells a name wrongly, but if it becomes the accepted local or family spelling, then it becomes a variant. The surname Fitzhenry started out with a hyphen after the Norman conquest, but lost it in most cases. There is a family in the US called Fitzsenry which undoubtedly started out as Fitz(-)henry, but got spelt that way during the immigration process in the 19th century and the spelling stuck.
A deviant is a mis-spelling. It's just plain wrong. Just like those census transcription errors. Speaking of which, I was emailed today by Val from Liverpool who had spent ages looking for her Fitzhenry family in the 1841 census, only to find them indexed as Fitzhenay!
And we've also been contacted by Kim, whose Fitzhenry line in the US dropped the Fitz several generations ago and are now officially just Henrys. Which does make them an extreme variant.
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