Saturday, 13 August 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Nicknames

My nickname when I was small was Posy - from Rosy-Posy, I suppose (my proper name is Rosamund).  But the very best nickname in my family was my Uncle Erks.  When I searched for him as part of my genealogical quest, boy! did I have trouble.  I looked for Eric and many more variations of the name, only to find he was called George Henry Hubert BALL.  Where does 'Erks' fit into that?  Nowhere - but I found its source.

Uncle Erks was so weedy and thin when he was a child at school, that his schoolfriends (?friends?) called him 'Hercules'.  'Hercules' got shortened to 'Erks', and his family adopted the nickname.  He was in his 40s when I knew him, and he was still called 'Erks'.

His brother was called 'Wigs'.  At least I knew he was called Walter Eli.  But where did 'Wigs' come from? In other parts of my family tree, Beatrice HAYWOOD is recognisable in 'Beattie', Henry HAYWOOD is recognisable as 'Harry', and Edward (EDGCOMBE) becomes 'Ted'.  Mary Georgina EDGCOMBE becomes 'Ena', but Ernest Harry BALL became 'Cockney' (because he lived in London, unlike the rest of the family).

I have found (from bitter experience) that you have to be careful, especially in the censuses, to look for nicknames when using search engines.  My great grandfather, Samuel Murch HAYWOOD, was known as 'Murch' on the 1881 census...


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