Jump to content


Rename Descendants feature

  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 Kevin Wornell

Kevin Wornell

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 30 posts

Posted 09 March 2009 - 06:15 PM

I am looking at version 4 and find it is very easy to use. It has many features I like but is missing one thing I would like to see.

First a bit of explanation. My Paternal line is WORNELL. However various groups in various places, all related, some even brothers, adopted different spellings for the last name: WARNELL, WORNALL, and WARNOL to mention a few. When I first started collecting ancestors I never really worried about it and used WORNELL for every one. Now that I am bit older and have begun making contact with some of the descendants of the various branches I would like to correct this issue; both to get it correct and also to keep peace in the tree!

This is where a 'Rename Descendants' feature would come in very handy. I would like to be able to highlight a person (either in Pedigree view or in Family view), right click, input a new Surname for that line. The program would then rename the highlighted person and all direct line descendants that have the old Surname with the new Surname.

Kevin Wornell

#2 Doug Couch

Doug Couch

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 44 posts

Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:57 PM

QUOTE(Kevin Wornell @ Mar 9 2009, 04:15 PM) View Post

...I would like to be able to highlight a person (either in Pedigree view or in Family view), right click, input a new Surname for that line. The program would then rename the highlighted person and all direct line descendants that have the old Surname with the new Surname...

I believe I see what you want to do with such a feature; however, I don't agree that it is a good feature for RM to adopt. People use whatever name and spelling they use. While you can make attempts to standardize, those standardized names are not what the people themselves used. Nothing wrong with it necessarily, but it tends to move away from genealogy when "we" choose what their name is/was.

In my mother's family, she was one of 14 children. About half of them spelled their surname Atkins, while the rest spelled it Adkins. Of course, their descendants "typically" spell it how their parent did...so the two spellings continue from the same nuclear family. From what information I have been able to find, Adkins was the spelling their father used; however, if you follow back a few generations, it was Atkinson, which was most likely derived from Atkins, which was most likely derived from Adkins (meaning kin of Adam). Throughout the geographic region where this rather large family group is and was found, people spell this name in many ways. There is no "correct" way. It is simply a matter of how people whose name it was spelled it.

My mother used Adkins, changed her middle name from Marie to Ann abitrarily without legal process. So her legal records show her as Margaret Ann Adkins because that is what she used on legal forms, etc. But it could just as easily be Margaret Marie Atkinson. Her choices overrode her parents' choices. So her birth name is Margaret Marie Adkins, with an alternate name of Margaret Ann Adkins. Since many of her fairly close relatives are still living, and since she always used Ann for her middle name, I keep it in the database how she used it...but Marie is the more proper name because her parents gave her that name.

As you go back into older lineages, this problem increases, for people did not have surnames per se, did not name their children until they came of age, didn't know how to read and write, and had many overlapping conventions defining what they were called...which changed throughout their lives. Their names changed from birth name to grown name, to titles (often plural, and where title actually becomes their name for all practical purposes), to their trade or occupation, to locations where they were born, locations where they ruled or were ruled by others or just lived, locations where they fought in battles, titles of honor because of battles, and other purely anecdotal names that stuck and were widely used. Additionally, they lived or married into spouses' families (plural) from different localities, under different royal and other titles, and often tried to incorporate both spouses' names, establish priorities, please the public politically and religiously, etc., resulting in a single person having a dozen or more names...including translations of these names into the languages of the various family branches involved. Hence a LOT of spellings of a LOT of names, for one person.

An example is Harald I "Fairhair" Halfdansson King of Norway: see some of his information at the wiki page:
He is not necessarily a prime example, but comes to mind...trying to sort him out from amongst other Haralds with similar sounding spouses, etc.

So, if you opt to standardize naming for your own database simply to maintain sanity, that is understandable, but it doesn't fit well into the genealogical name referencing schemes, which necessarily are so widely varied. If you do opt to standardize, always remember to include alternate name references for clarity of those who may read your data later on.

Doug (list member)

#3 Jonathan589


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 75 posts

Posted 12 March 2009 - 03:23 PM

Doug's point is fair, but I suspect misses Kevin's (unless I've missed both in my suffering from Muphry's Law!) where Kevin had standardised and now wishes to correct that.

I have Belden/Belding and McColl/MacColl and other varying sets. I may think I have all the Beldens sorted out and then discover three of them had morphed to Belding. It would be nice to click on the first Belding and rename him and his descendants. This is a doubly-useful example because a couple of generations later they mostly went back to Belden again. Or maybe Beldon. Or Beldin.

#4 Alfred


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 5734 posts

Posted 12 March 2009 - 05:09 PM

I can tell you how to do it, you will change the record numbers though.

The problem:
Your family started out as "DOE"
along about the 1750s John changed his name to "Doue"
And Billy changed couldn't wright so someone else wrote his name as "Dough"
All of their offspring retained these names.
But you have them all in the database as DOE since that's where they started.

The solution:
Create a new, empty database and tile it alongside the main database.
Grab John Doe and drag him to the new database -- along with all of his descendants and their spouses.
In the new database, do a search and replace of surnames, search for Doe and replace with Dooe
Replace all
Now, grab Billy Doe from the original database and drag him to the new database along with all of his descendants and their spouses.
Search and replace surnames again, Replace Doe with Dough
Replace all
Now go to the original database, grab anyone and drag them and EVERYONE in the database to the new one.
In the new database do a Tools - Merge - Automatic Merge - (Uncheck SmartMerge to save time)
Begin Merge

If there were more split off the original, keep going with their descendants (if you do not include spouses, you get multiple marriages and family facts after the merge)
If, the second name splits again, you will probably have to use the second database as the original and start over from there.
The reason you move everyone to The new database rather than back is that the name of the lower record number is retained, since the one you first dragged and changed is an earlier entry, it has a lower record number and it's name is retained upon merging.

That should make the new database show the new names, with an ALT name of the original Doe.

It ain't as hard to do as it is to splain!


#5 Laura


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4276 posts

Posted 12 March 2009 - 06:37 PM

And maybe the best part of Alfred's solution is that you would now have the Alternate name fact of Doe added to everyone without having to add it manually to each person.

And in RM4, the Alternate name is shown in RM Explorer, the Side Index, and on the People's screen. So you can look up people either by the old spelling Doe or or the new spelling Dough.