Abbreviations for Given Names

Given NamesYour great aunt was named Katherine, yet many of the documents and records you are examining will have Kathy, Kath, Cathy or Kat. Our ancestors used several different forms for their given names. Sometimes because they didn’t like the full formal name and would rather have it shorter. Other times whoever was writing down information for a document wasn’t sure how the given name was spelled. It was often easier just to abbreviate a name, even those of medium length letters (such as 5 or 6 letters). So when you see the shorten form you might not be able to figure out the true given name.

Take ‘Lse’, you are not sure if it is a female or male name and what it is. Well, this abbreviation stands for ‘Louise’, a very traditional female given name. Then a given name can be shorten using Latin. Here is ‘Xpr’ (Latin form) which is the male name of ‘Christopher’. If you did not have a list of such abbreviation, you might be able to put an actual name to that ancestor.

Some given names are so changed it can be more difficult to get the correct birth name. For ‘Margaret’ shorter names could be ‘Peggy’, ‘Maggy’, ‘Mag’, ‘Peg’, ‘Marg’ ‘Margie’, ‘Meg’ or ‘Mgt’.

Then a couple abbreviations could be for male or female names. If you see ‘Ger’ it might be for Gerald, Geraldine or Gerard.

Then there is the problem of actually being able to read what handwritten letters are down on a document. A letter ‘p’ might look like a ‘f’ or ‘m’ like a ‘n’. This site will help a little with understanding the written letters, especially in names abbreviated.

Even reading and understanding old English in documents from the United Kingdom can be difficult. This site might help know that ‘Jacobus’ was really the given name of ‘James’.

Other sites for names:

English Names



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