Unusual Name

#52 ancestors 52 weeks, week 3

As a family historian we often come across unusual names. Unusual names occur form many and varied reasons: mispronunciations, multiple spellings, Anglicization and modernization. Many names that we come across seem unusual looked at through a modern lens and there meaning has been lost in the midst of time. Today I am going to have a look at three of the more unusual names in that I have come across on both sides of the family tree.

Hannah SPARSHALL Baptismal Record (2)

When following the BELL line from Harriet BELL we come across her mother Hannah SPARSHALL. Hannah married Thomas BELL in 1789 in Great Yarmouth (3). Hannah’s surname in the baptismal records of their children is sometimes represented as SPECIAL.

Thomas BELL and Hannah SPARSHALL Marriage Record

From looking at the microfiche of the baptismal and other church records on FamilySearch for Great Yarmouth SPARSHALL as a name that was common around the area in the late 1700’s, many of whom we Quakers and non conformists. Unfortunately, Hannah’s direct family line has not be able to be traced further.

Next we move from Norfolk through to Cambridgeshire and Essex where we encounter the PRECIOUS family. We first come across the PRECIOUS name in the marriage record of Edward COOPER and Elizabeth PRETIOUS in Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire 1794(5). Unfortunately, very few images are available on-line of the Cambridgeshire records so the transcripts provide a basis for following the line. The PRECIOUS family can be followed around the Castle Camps, Shudy Camps area to Thomas PRECIOUS and Magdalen when their first child was born in 1684 in Shudy Camps (6).

Google Map showing the location of Shudy Camps, Castle Camps and Helions Bumpstead

From Cambridgeshire we move over the border into Helions Bumpstead in Essex. As the map shows the places are close together and for the members of the extended COOPER family there was much movement between the towns shown on the map. The name we are looking at is HANNIBAL, which has also been written as HUNNIBAL, HUDIBALL and HONEYBALL. Millicent also known as Millea and Amelia married Robert TILBROOK in Helions Bumpstead in 1815 (7). Robert and Millicent were the parents of Harriet TILBROOK the wife of John COOPER (8)

Unusual names are common for many of us and can be the key we need to follow the line or they can be a block as the name changes with spellings and sounds that have changed over the years.

(1). Marriage certificate COOPER Henry George and NOSWORTHY Phyllis Moira.

(2). Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Records Office) PD 28/12, Baptism Records Great Yarmouth St Nicholas, Page 43 with images http://www.findmypast.com.au

(3). England, Norfolk, Parish Registers (County Record Office), 1510-1997,” database with images, FamilySearch Yarmouth St Nicholas > Marriages > 1787-1794 > image 38 of 158; Record Office, Norwich

(4) ibid

(5) Cambridgeshire Family History Society. Transcriptions of the Parish Records of Castle Camps, Shudy Camps and Horseheath. Undated

(6) ibid

(7) England Marriages, 1538–1973 ,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NN7X-D29 : 10 February 2018), Robert Tilbrook and Millicent Hunnibal, 04 Dec 1815; citing Bumpstead-Helion, Essex, England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 1,702,192.

(8) SEAX. Parish Registers Online, Helions Bumpstead. Access online at http://seax.essexcc.gov.uk/ParishRegisters.aspx?selAlphabet=H&selParish=648&selChurch=649

3 thoughts on “Unusual Name

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  1. Interesting and useful post, I’ve just started my ancestry search this year and am often confused with name variations but I often wonder if it’s the handwriting of ancestors 100s of years ago and the digital reading of the names that causes a problem?


    1. It is some of f that. The handwriting of the past can be different. It is best when you see a microfiche or Jpeg of the actual registers. This can be difficult as they are not always available. Also the accents people used compared to the person scribing can cause problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Accents😂 ? Gawd help me, I’m a northern Englishman and my ancestors were mostly from the south, Cornwall, who to this day have a different dialect not only accent. At least we counted the same yan, tan, methra, tethra, pimp😂


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