Personal Name

Personal Names

Personal names entered into the database are entered first by surname (last name) followed by forename (first name), (e.g., Smith, Joanna) and are searchable in the same manner.  It is possible to search solely by surname or by the first few letters of the surname, although such a search will yield less exacting results.

Due to the lack of standardized spelling in the era when these documents were created, there are many variations in spelling for both surnames and forenames.  Standard surnames and forenames have been established for entry into the database, although the spelling variation of surnames has been preserved.  For example where a name appears as “Johana Smyth” in the document, it will appear in the name field as “Smith, Joanna (Smyth).”

While it is possible to search for specific surnames, using variant spellings, such as “Smeth,” “Smyth,” or “Smithe” for the standard surname “Smith,” it is recommended that the user employ the standard names established in the Thesaurus in order to achieve more accurate results. Please note when searching for forenames in the Thesaurus that English(E), French(F), and German(G) forenames are marked for forenames that may be standard in one language but variant in another. When necessary, forenames may be marked male(M) or female(Fe).

Attention should be paid to cross-references in the Thesaurus.  In some cases surnames and standards may be listed in several documents differently, although referring to the same person (e.g., “Kelley” and “O’Kelley”).  In other cases individuals may simply be known by multiple names or aliases (e.g., “Barnes” and “Wige”).


In many cases forenames were not noted on the document itself.  In these situations, attempts were made to determine forenames from the series of related documents or published records.  Where it was impossible to positively identify an individual forename, titles were assigned to the surname, the most common being “Mr.”, but others, such as “Dr.” and  “Widow,” as well as military titles, such as “Capt.,” “Gen.,” and “Col.,” are used.  Where suffixes such as “Jr.,” “Sr.,” or “III” accompany the name in the document and serve to distinguish the individual, they are also included in the name field. 


The use of “Family,” (e.g., “Amirault Family”) has been employed when the document refers to several members of a specific family and the individual forenames were unknown.  This has been particularly true in Volumes 23 and 24.

Native American Names

In the case of individual Native American names, the user should consult the Thesaurus to view the established standards and variant spellings.  Be aware that Indian names during this period may appear in several different forms.  For example, Indian names may appear as Christian forenames (e.g., Joshua), Indian names, (e.g., Ahaton), or a combination of the two (e.g., Comacho, Joseph).  Descriptors, such as “Old,” “Great,” and “Little” may also accompany both Christian forenames (e.g., Abigail (Old)) and Indian names (e.g., Nasquamut (Old)).