Family Names

Monday, 17 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - N is for Names

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.


Martha had several surnames during her life.
  1. Ellis – her birth name.[1]
  2. Lee – an alias that has yet to be fully understood (see here for more details)
  3. Todman – her first married name acquired on the 16th January 1892.[2]
  4. Simpson – her second married name.[3]
We understand that in the English culture women change their names it is a custom probably originating from a time when women were considered goods and chattels. On marriage, they changed their last name to match their husbands.  The new surname denoted who they belong to, much like a label. The laws have changed but the custom still remains in many cases.

First names, however, are a little more complicated.  Martha is referred to as having the following first names:-
  1. Martha Sarah was named after her mother. When her birth was registered by her mother a few days after her birth her first name was given as Martha Sarah.[4]  Martha Sarah was also the name used when her second Husband James Simpson in 1935.[6]
  2. Martha was the first name used when she was baptised at 11 years of age, the year following her mother’s death. [5] This is also the first name she used when she got married to her first husband, Walter Todman.[2]
  3. Pat – see the photo below – reason for this name? A term of endearment?
Photographer Yeoman & Co., Studio portrait of Lincoln, Pat, and Hazel Todman with Edward Ellis, Taken about March 1908  Lurline Marshall's   Private Photo  Collection  [T134]
The wording typed under the photo in the above copy of picture "Lincoln Todman 9 mths Pat 36 ½ yrs Hazel 4yrs, Edward 39yrs" is written on back of original photograph,

Photographer Yeoman & Co.,, Studio portrait of Lincoln Todman 9 mths, Pat 36 ½ yrs, Hazel 4yrs, Edward 39yrs, Myrtle Sharp's Private Photo  Collection currently held by  Sandra Williamson [T089]
The same photo held by, myself, a descendant of Martha Sarah Ellis has no such inscription on the back, possibly because the owners were the people in the photograph so they had no need to label the photo.  It is thought that Lurline's photograph was probably sent by Martha to her sister and that her sister (or Martha herself) annotated the back to help to remind them of who the people were. 

It is this personal annotation that introduces Martha's nickname "Pat", perhaps a term of endearment? 

Should I be scouring the archives for Pat as well as Martha and Martha Sarah with the surname of Lee, or Ellis, with the married names of Todman and/or Simpson the combinations are endless?  Not to mention that her first husband Walter also had multiple names that I have only just begun to explore, click here for more detail,

So who are the others in the photo?  Sitting on Martha's knee is Lincoln James Todman (my grandfather), her 5th child and 2nd boy, next to Martha is her brother Edward and on his knee is Hazel Todman her fourth child (and 3rd daughter).  Edward worked for the railways and was based in NSW, perhaps he was visiting when this photo was taken?

To Read more about Martha's life for articles previously posted for the A to Z Challenges click the Letters below:-

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z





[i] England, birth certificate for Martha Sarah Ellis, born 31 December 1870; citing 1d/741/303, First quarter 1871, Camberwell registration district, St. George Camberwell in the County of  Surrey sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.
[ii] Marriage certificate of Walter Todman and Martha Sarah Ellis married 16 Jan 1892, Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 345 (1926),
[iii] Marriage Certificate James Simpson & Martha Sarah Todman, 29 April 1935, Reference# Unknown, Registry of Birth, Death and Marriages, Victoria, Australia (Original a personal copy from the personal papers of Myrtle Sharp.)
[iv] England, birth certificate for Martha Sarah Ellis, born 31 December 1870; citing 1d/741/303, First quarter 1871, Camberwell registration district, St. George Camberwell in the County of  Surrey sub-district; General Register Office, Southport.
[v] Ancestry, "London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906," database and images, Ancestry (www.Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Jan 2017); Baptism of Marth Ellis, baptised 27 May 1881, St Lukes Peckham Parish Register, Southwark, London, England, page 73, no. 578; Board of Guardian Records, 1834-1906 and Church of England Parish Registers, 1754-1906. London Metropolitan Archive.
[vi] Marriage Certificate James Simpson & Martha Sarah Todman, 29 April 1935, Reference# Unknown, Registry of Birth, Death and Marriages, Victoria, Australia (Original a personal copy from the personal papers of Myrtle Sharp)

10 comments:

  1. Wow. Those pictures are wonderful.
    I admire you so much for getting the birth certificate and other name change details.
    My respects for you increased three fold, so much reseraching for a blog post is just wonderful

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    1. Thanks DeeDee, it's all part of the hunt. I hope oneday to write it all up in a book to share with my descendants but for the moment I'm just happy to share it with the world incase the book never comes about.

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  2. Wow, nice photo! And how wonderful that someone added the names. Given names, call names, middle names, and nicknames are such a challenge -- but it may be worth following up on the Pat name. She may have gone by that name among family and it could show up in a census or elsewhere. Who knows? Worth a shot. Great research!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Molly. Lucky for me I have managed to find her in the English census (even with the change of surname) unfortunately in Australia we don't publish census like they do in the US and GB

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  3. One of the bloggers I follow from India talked about a woman being forced to change her first name upon marriage. Who knows what might have happened in Martha's case?

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    1. Terrible to be forced to change your name. In my husband's family everyone goes by a different name, it's like a code name or term of endearment. He gets called Snoz or Harold both are not his real names, it's a custom that I've always found strange.

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  4. People often hated their names. My grandmother Myrtle was called Millie on old photos. Later she changed her name to Kay. She also had three marriages so four surnames. I can sympathise as Myrtle is not one of those old fashioned names that has enjoyed a resurrection.
    Funny how the pictures aren't labelled because the people at the time knew everyone in the photo. Or the postcards that say "from your loving mother". Who's loving mother? So frustrating.

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    1. I suppose they were written for the receiver of the letter not the family history researcher - very short sighted.

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  5. A reminder that we must search for ancestors under all possible names, Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by Jill, but I find the trick is finding the names in the first place.

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