Saturday Surnames: Last Names Like First Names

There are times when I just want to use transcribed indexes to get my bearings or do a quick Google of a name to see if some cousin out there is already doing research. It seems like I get thwarted at every click, because of that common scourge: a surname that is also a common first name.

All of these searches turn up a glut of results that it takes more time to sift through than if I had actually intended to look manually. No, I’m not looking for George Lloyd Smith or George Lloyd Jones. His name is George (forename) Lloyd (surname). That’s it. Or Family Search decides that a man named Ralph Thomson in Michigan is more relevant to my search than the Thomas Ralph in British Columbia that I was actually searching for. Or, forbid if you go from having a first-name-surname to marrying into another one like Jennie Irving when she married John Jack.

Those are the times when I take a deep breath and remember that the best way to find something is to relax and then concentrate on it. It’s like asking a stranger to find your keys; they might look between couch cushions because they don’t know that you usually throw them on the kitchen table and forget about them when you come in. A search engine has a different way of considering relevancy than I do, and I’ll have to forgive it for not being in my head.

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