Tuesday, 9 November 2010

What's in a name

My father Simon Belson was born in 1912, I had his birth certificate and my parents wedding certificate as well as the marriage authorisation from the Chief Rabbi’s Office in London. From these I knew that my father’s parents were Harry Belson and Dora Godelsky.

Try as I could, I was unable to find my paternal grandfather Harry’s birth certificate or his marriage certificate. I knew that his father’s name was Joseph but could not trace a Belson family in any UK census with a Joseph and a Harry. Eventually I found the family in the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses as Balsom. I still couldn’t find the birth or wedding certificates for Harry who is shown as 1 year old in the1891 census.

I then tried Free BMD looking for a female Godelsky, using Soundex, getting married between 1910 and 1912. From this I found a Dorothy Gudelsky married a Henry Belsom in early 1912. I now have the certificate and they are definitely my grandparents Harry and Dora.

Again I tried Free BMD looking for a male Balsom, using Soundex, born 1890/1891. The only one was a Harry Balzum born in 1890. I have just received the certificate and it shows Harry, born 23rd May 1890 to Joseph and Leah Balzum.

Checking on the births of Harry’s 8 brothers and sisters, I have found births registered as Belson, Bulsom, Balsom, Bolsam and Bellson.

So, what is my family name. Balsom, Balzum, Belsom, Bolsam or Bellson. Or does it matter. I can only presume that when the births were registered, the registrar wrote down what she/he thought the name sounded like when spoken by someone who only knew Russian or Yiddish and couldn’t read or write in English.

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