Library Blog – Meanings of words used on Certificates.

 Query from a member 9th August 2020.

Is there anyone that can give me a little advice please?

I have recently received a death certificate for a 2-month-old boy, it was registered in Croydon 1936. Under the name and surname he was shown as, David Bailey Hopkins otherwise Williams.

The surname being researched is Hopkins.

Never come up with a choice of two surnames before. grateful for any comment please.

Response 10th August 2020.

An interesting question that perhaps should be blogged on our web site for other member to help with their research.

As you know the Library is closed so my answer to your query is done without reference to our large collection of reference books.

Firstly 'otherwise' is used where a person has also or previously gone under another name. In your case the baby could have been born illegitimately and registered or baptised under the mother's surname (in your case Williams) then the parents married or the child became part of the father's family and his surname was used (in your case Hopkins).

The second reason is it's been used instead of 'also known as' (Aka) or 'alias' sometimes abbreviated as 'als'. I have a case in my family where they used our surname and also their trade name. In our case the 'West' surname, which was added to the surname. The descendants of this family in America use the West surname while the UK descendants use the original surname. There are some baptism records for this family that have hyphenated the name, not consistently as the order of surname has varied.

There are other reasons, but not in your case, i.e. if a person had a stage name then they might be something like John Bloggs otherwise known as the 'Waldo the Great Wizard' that could be simply 'John Blogs otherwise Waldo. When a woman lives with her partner (say John Bloggs) she was born Mary Smith she might be recorded as Mary Smith otherwise Bloggs.

There are other words used on certificates such as 'nee' the birth name, 'late' the name for a married woman with a previous marriage and 'formerly' for a married woman the 'formerly' is used in place of 'nee' and was the maiden name.

I suggest you may need to check out the birth registration of the child and the parent's marriage registration. The other record to look at is the baptism register as the mother may be listed as 'single'.

Hope that helps but if not let us know and I'll pass it on to some of the other volunteer researchers.

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