Sunday, 20 March 2011

Are You Sure You Know Who You Are?

This story came my way back in the mid-1990s.  It concerns a Mr R Davies of Cheshire - if you're still around, sir, I trust you will not mind me giving the story an airing...

I am now a senior citizen, but throughout my life I have taken it for granted that the family name was Davies.  I worked for 51 years, and even with 27 years of military service I have never had this doubted.  Just about the time of my retirement I began to research my father's family history and wrote to the Shrewsbury Record Office where my request, with a copy of my father's birth certificate, was dealt with by a Mrs Healey.  Imagine my surprise when she told me that the family name was, in reality, Whittingham!  It appears that my grandfather had his eight children baptised with the middle name of Davies (his step-father's name), but when he registered them he had reversed it to Whittingham Davies, as my father's certificate shows.  On my grandmother's 1928 burial record at Wistanstow is the comment to the effect that Davies is not her true name, and the change is not understood.  Since my initial enquiry I have got back to William B.Whittingham, c.1750, in Montgomery, Wales.  A strange but fascinating story after some 90 years.

... And a lesson to us all, perhaps, that we should never take anything for granted.

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