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All Entries of the Surname

When searching records of a particular locality, it is important to extract all entries relating to the surname being searched. For example, if you are searching for John Farrow in Rugby, England, you will want to detail information found on all Farrows

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Kristin Brandt
Word Count: 491 (approx.)
Labels: Surname Origin 
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When searching records of a particular locality, it is important to extract all entries relating to the surname being searched. For example, if you are searching for John Farrow in Rugby, England, you will want to detail information found on all Farrows in Rugby. That means writing down information on people that aren't on your chart. Many people are unwilling to do this because, depending on the size of the town or the commonness of the name, it could potentially take a long time in the beginning. However, it is well worth it in the end. This procedure almost always yields important results. When I have not followed this procedure I have found myself wasting a lot of time returning to the records to get what I did not note before.

In small towns, it is very likely the people who share a surname are probably all related anyway. Sometimes two brothers lived side by side in a town and gave their children the same family names, so noting entries for all Farrows might sort out which Henry T. went to war and which one didn't. Eventually, the names you've extracted from the records will fall into family groups, which will help you distinguish your ancestor from every other Farrow in town. Also, information on these extended relatives might give clues that will help extend your pedigree. For example, if you did not know where your great grandfather lived before he moved to Salem and the land records did not shed any light on the problem. By searching the land deed for every entry of his surname, you might find that his brother also moved around the same year and his deed did mention his previous residence and his father's name. You just never know what you will find.

Even with a common name it is important to search all entries of the name. With a name like Smith, it might be very time consuming, but it may be the only way of narrowing the matches. If there were 4 Hannah Smiths born in Salem in the same year with a father John, it would be useful to follow each of them. You may not know which one is yours unless you do. One might have died as a child and one might have moved away, which would certainly help to narrow the search.

Recording all entries of a surname is very useful because it will sometimes reveal important information. Also, many of the unfamiliar names will fall into related families and if you don't record all of the entries, you may find yourself going back repeatedly to the same record. Although this is a useful search practice, it is important not to get carried away with researching several tangent lines. Stay focused, but note information if you come across someone who could be related. Although it won't mean much at the time, it could potentially provide critical information in the future.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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