No surname

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Many people appear in church and seigniorial records with only a given name and no surname.

Most genealogy websites require a surname in order to create the individual. What would be the “correct” way to deal with a person having no surname?



Hi, Michelle. I am not a professional, but I do maintain a large database of almost 60,000 records. I’ve run into this situation a few times and have taken the following approach: 1) If I am certain the individual later began to use a surname, I add it to the record immediately—mainly because it aids in searching. But, I make notes to let any future person who uses my database know the assumption I made. 2) I only record the given name, but again, I make notes to giving my rationale as to what the surname might be. I have not done this, but a third option might be to place the eventual surname in brackets, but I would still make notes explaining the rationale. And, this option would depend upon how your software accepts the brackets. Great question! Hopefully you will get a few more opinions to help you determine how to best proceed.