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Thread: Surname Spelling

  1. #1
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    Smile Surname Spelling

    Here is why I think our surname was originally spelled Stephens rather than Stevens and was changed, probably in North America.

    1) One of my two closest matches, both 107/111, spells the surname Stephens.

    2) Another close match, this one 64/67, also spells the surname Stephens, and he is not a known relative of #1 above.

    3) My closest matches who can trace their y-dna mdkas to Europe trace them to Wales or right on the Welsh border, all of those matches have Welsh surnames, and the Stephens spelling is more common in Wales than the Stevens spelling.

    4) The regions where the Stephens and Stevens spellings prevailed were different, as can be seen from the 1881 UK census maps below, and thus far I have no matches from the areas where the Stevens spelling was most frequent.

    Stephens surname 1881 UK census Radnorshire Wales highest freq.png Stevens map 1881 uk census.png

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    Here is why I think our surname was originally spelled Stephens rather than Stevens and was changed, probably in North America.

    1) One of my two closest matches, both 107/111, spells the surname Stephens.

    2) Another close match, this one 64/67, also spells the surname Stephens, and he is not a known relative of #1 above.

    3) My closest matches who can trace their y-dna mdkas to Europe trace them to Wales or right on the Welsh border, all of those matches have Welsh surnames, and the Stephens spelling is more common in Wales than the Stevens spelling.

    4) The regions where the Stephens and Stevens spellings prevailed were different, as can be seen from the 1881 UK census maps below, and thus far I have no matches from the areas where the Stevens spelling was most frequent.

    Stephens surname 1881 UK census Radnorshire Wales highest freq.png Stevens map 1881 uk census.png
    I probably should have included this as a fifth item, but one of my closest 111-marker matches who can trace his y-dna mdka to Europe (in fact the only 111-marker match who can) traces him squarely to the dark-colored blob in Wales on the Stephens map above, which was old Radnorshire.

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    One has to keep in mind that there was no set spelling in English in the 16th and 17th centuries. People spelled things phonetically. Add to this most people were illiterate anyway, so spelling meant absolutely nothing to them. Those that could write might well spell the same word differently, even in a single document or letter. I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about what the original spelling was, as it might have varied constantly.

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    I'm still not entirely convinced that my y-line isn't Welsh.. Of course the name didn't really take on in Wales until after the reformation. At the same time though, I'm unable to move beyond the early 18th to late 17th century with any degree of confidence. Though ultimately I do believe that it was simply coincidence that the same surname, with two totally different origins, happened to flourish within close proximity of one another.. A bit of doubt lingers on regardless.

    Isaac surname uk census 1881.png
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenHind View Post
    One has to keep in mind that there was no set spelling in English in the 16th and 17th centuries. People spelled things phonetically. Add to this most people were illiterate anyway, so spelling meant absolutely nothing to them. Those that could write might well spell the same word differently, even in a single document or letter. I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about what the original spelling was, as it might have varied constantly.
    I agree, because I have seen the same persons use both spellings or have both used in reference to them by census takers and other officials. However, even though that is true, it is also true that the ph spelling did prevail more in Wales than the v spelling, which seems to have been more popular in England. It seems both spellings were popular in Cornwall. My matches are either Welsh or have Welsh surnames. Thus far I don't have any matches in those areas where the v spelling came to prevail, at least by the 1881 census.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam_Isaack View Post
    I'm still not entirely convinced that my y-line isn't Welsh.. Of course the name didn't really take on in Wales until after the reformation. At the same time though, I'm unable to move beyond the early 18th to late 17th century with any degree of confidence. Though ultimately I do believe that it was simply coincidence that the same surname, with two totally different origins, happened to flourish within close proximity of one another.. A bit of doubt lingers on regardless.

    Isaac surname uk census 1881.png
    It sure looks like it's Welsh or at least very much a west country surname. How do your matches look?

    Isaac looks like the same type of surname as Samuel, an Old Testament name without the usual s ending that most Welsh surnames took when they were anglicized, yet both are evidently quite Welsh. Were your ancestors Quakers?
    Last edited by rms2; 08-01-2015 at 01:27 AM.

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    Those biblical surnames are interesting as they did become popular in Wales post-Reformation but obviously some of these names arrived with Jewish settlers in London during the 19th century and in some cases, like with Adams, they may have an English origin as well.

    Apparently old testament names were particularly popular in South Wales due to the preponderance of Baptists and Independents in the worshipping population.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    It sure looks like it's Welsh or at least very much a west country surname. How do your matches look?

    Isaac looks like the same type of surname as Samuel, an Old Testament name without the usual s ending that most Welsh surnames took when they were anglicized, yet both are evidently quite Welsh. Were your ancestors Quakers?
    As far as matches are concerned, to date I've only matched with other American Isaac's and people who are the result of an Isaac being involved in their NPE.

    I have my surname/y-DNA cousins family tree (whose great grandfather immigrated from Devon) going back to a group of farmers living in Winkleigh, Devon in the early 1600's, but the trail abruptly ends there. Ultimately I believe the Winkleigh lot are descended of a more prestigious family who held manor at Buriate, located in the Atherington/Barnstaple area in north Devon. Only a single line of this prestigious family has been recorded and given permission to display the genealogical arms originally granted by Henry III. Buriate was originally bestowed to the Hamlyn family by a Ralph de Wellington during the reign of Henry III. It was then continued on by the Isaac family, who I assume were related to the Hamlyns, when they settled at the estate in the 14th century. The fact that I've been unable to connect back to them, and potentially may never be able to, casts doubt on the purported connection to the prestigious branch.

    Since I have no legitimate connection to the above branch, it is still a possibility that we are in fact actually from Wales or potentially Cornwall. There are plenty of Cornish Isaac's and there is even a Port Isaac which is derived from the Cornish word Porthysek. So the case is definitely not closed. I'd actually prefer to be Welsh or Cornish. Feels more Celtic and connected to my P312ness. I also recall an old figure stating that Cornwall had an unusually high percentage of SRY2627.. So that only adds fuel to the fire

    As far as religious affiliations for my early colonial Isaac ancestors, this is the only piece of evidence I've found in all my years of researh.

    "Dr. Wilmer L. Kerns in Kerns books on page 16 Elijah Isaacks signed a Frederick
    county Parish register in 1762 so that he could participate in the communion
    of the church. In essence ,the pledge denounced transubstantiation. No
    other Isaacks are mentioned."
     
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    Here's a pretty informative site regarding Welsh surnames..

    http://www.terrynorm.ic24.net/welsh%20surnames.htm
     
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam_Isaack View Post
    Here's a pretty informative site regarding Welsh surnames..

    http://www.terrynorm.ic24.net/welsh%20surnames.htm
    5. SURNAMES ENDING IN ‘S'

    But by far the greatest number of modern Welsh surnames have been created by adopting the English system of adding the possessive ‘s' to a Christian name. This is in fact is also a patronymic system, as Williams simply means William's son; Jones, John's son; Davies, David's son and so on. Thus common Welsh surnames such as Jones, William, Davies, Evans, Roberts, Richards, Hughes have been created by simply adding ‘s' to the Christian names John, William, David, Evan (itself a variant of John), Robert, Richard, and Hugh respectively, all originally French Christian names introduced by the Normans and their successors.
    Obviously Stephens/Stevens falls into that category. It's common enough in Wales but also found outside of it. Since my matches are mostly Welsh, however, I figure Wales is my y-dna ancestral homeland.

    I remember years and years ago, long before commercial dna testing, when I was an undergrad in college, I got into a discussion of genealogy with another student who happened to be interested in it. He suggested that perhaps I was Welsh and did not realize it, since he had read that many Welsh surnames that were originally formed by the combination of ap or ab, for "son of", and a given name, were later anglicized by dropping ap or ab and adding the possessive s on the end. I shrugged that off at the time, but I still remember it. He was smarter than I gave him credit for being.
    Last edited by rms2; 08-01-2015 at 05:41 PM.

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