Henry & Moses McNeil

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Gabe
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Henry & Moses McNeil

Post by Gabe » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:08 pm

I would like to solve a doubt about the right surname of Henry and Moses McNeil, the first brothers to play for Scotland.
A website talking about Moses says “although his birth certificate gives the spelling of his surname as McNiel”.
Searching on internet, all the sites have McNeil. Moreover I read that Moses was one of the founders of Glasgow Rangers.
So a famous surname in Scotland and surely you have not had this “problem”.
I have found it only now during the update of my/RSSSF archives.
So, the question: is McNeil the right surname ? Do we have not listen to the Birth Certificate ?

Thanks

Gabe

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Re: Henry & Moses McNeil

Post by Scottish » Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:26 am

It's usually McNeil. Birth registrations only started in Scotland in 1855 - the year Moses was born - and it wasn't uncommon for spelling variations or errors to be given. Many people couldn't read or write so it would be left to the registrar to fill in the name for it to be witnessed with a X.

ScottishFA
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Re: Henry & Moses McNeil

Post by ScottishFA » Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:38 am

Agreed, the spellings vary and this is far from a unique case.

I've seen Moses McNeil's birth certificate and it does indeed say McNiel, but later in life the family stuck rigidly to McNeil.

Harry's birth, which was probably in 1850, was not registered, but in subsequent censuses his name is written as:
1851: Hendry MacNial age 2;
1861: Henry McNeill age 11;
1871: Henry McNeil age 21, commercial clerk;
24 April 1874: Henry McNeil age 23, clerk in galvanising works, married Mary Cribbes
1881: Henry McNeil age 30, hosier and glover, with wife and 2 kids, born Gareloch;
1891: Henry McNeil age 40, traveller, born Gareloch;
1901: Hendry Mcneil, florist, born Gareloch.

Another example of a 'misleading' birth certificate was Bernard Breslin of Hibs. His father was illiterate and signed the certificate with an X, so the name was written down phonetically by the registrar as Bracelan.

MadMac
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Re: Henry & Moses McNeil

Post by MadMac » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:58 am

ScottishFA wrote:Another example of a 'misleading' birth certificate was Bernard Breslin of Hibs. His father was illiterate and signed the certificate with an X, so the name was written down phonetically by the registrar as Bracelan.
As someone who has spent many hours going through the Records Office in Edinburgh, I can confirm that it was a very common situation in those days. My paternal Grandfather's birth registration in 1872 had the surname spelled incorrectly for that very reason - his death certificate lists that spelling as "Formerly", and also has the actual name misspelled in one place, so it has three different spellings on one certificate!

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Re: Henry & Moses McNeil

Post by Scottish » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:19 am

My maternal grandfather dropped his surname in favour of his middle name. Birth name changed at wedding for middle name and he gave his parents surname as the same as his "new" one. yet his death certificate gave his original surname with a "known as" beside it and his parents had been restored to their original name.

Both grandparents died when my mother and her brother were pre-school so they knew nothing about it. They both died before ScotlandsPeople came online. I can only speculate that the name change was on account of it being what was called in those days (and might still be in certain parts for all I know) a "mixed" marriage.

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