Maiden surnames

Jocelyn Gould

Hi John - another aspect to consider - in the 1841 Census for Inverness-shire my 2xgtgm was listed under her maiden surname and children under father's surname.  I investigated this and found that the wife retained her surname where there was property involved and in fact, husbands changed their name to hers in cases of large heritable estates.

My gtgm buried in Inverness-shire in 1917 is known by her maiden surname but it is stated that she was the wife of .........  who died before her and thus is at the top of the inscription.

The take-away from this - don't be pedantic about what it 'should' be - just go with the flow.

Take care everyone as we navigate through these challenging times.


On 27/03/2020 7:37 pm, John Kemplen via Groups.Io wrote:

Interesting what different experiences and recollections we have of this.  In spite of what I said earlier about women being known by their married surnames, I agree totally with what Ken says about women being known informally among friends by their maiden name.  In island communities (my experience is almost all of Islay), where you fit in to the scheme of things is very important.  Even now, when I visit, I get interrogated to establish exactly who my mother was and which families we connect with by birth and by marriage.  It seems to play a major part in bonding as a community.

Regarding records, I do not have enough knowledge of the situation in the 1700s and early 1800s to agree or disagree with Goldie's assertions, but in all the Scottish census records I have seen from 1841 onwards, all family members including the wife are identified by the surname of the husband, and where a mother is identified in BMD records, the heading on the form asks for "name and maiden surname", clearly implying that, in official circles at least, the woman's current surname is that of her husband.

We all seem to share the same experience of conventions regarding headstones, with both maiden and married surnames being identifiable by one means or another.  My mother's headstone in the beautiful graveyard at Luss refers to her as "Mary Campbell MacKellar, beloved wife of Herbert R. Kemplen".  As has been said, that is very helpful for genealogical research.


On 27/03/2020 03:19, Ken Harrison wrote:
When my great aunt died in 1975 near Ft. William, her Will was in the name of “maiden name OR married name”.  She told me that she was known informally by her husband’s name, but her old friends still called her by her maiden name, even 60 years after marriage.
Most of my ancestors in Lanark, Orkney & Islay were recorded in most records in the 1700s & 1800s with maiden name only, including after they arrived in Canada, where their headstones tend to show only the maiden name and “wife of ...”

Ken iPad

On Mar 26, 2020, at 7:38 PM, Goldie & Lido Doratti <lidogold2@...> wrote:

I beg to the 1700/1800 era most women retained their maiden names after marriage.  You will see on some census info this is so..NOT ALL, but for example, if the woman was a Smith, she was known as a Smith, but she was also known as the Wife of John Doe.....on the tomb stone you will likely see his name first, if he died first and then ‘his wife  .... Smith’.  You are right to think it makes it easier for us doing genealogy to find folks.  Again, NOT all women did this, but it was a common thing for the woman to retain her maiden name.  She was likely proud of her forbearers.  To carry the man’s name is a more modern thing.  The maiden name also denoted the Clan or Sept of 5Clan she belonged to.  Goldie
From: John Kemplen via Groups.Io
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2020 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: [ScotGen] McEwing/Stewart/McCaig/Wallace—Islay/ Campbeltown

I don't think it is quite like that.  Most married Scottish women have, for many years, ALWAYS been known by their married surname while they are alive and it is ONLY on their headstones when they are dead that they are called by their maiden surname.  Because their husband's name also tends to appear for one reason or another on the headstone, it is usually possible to identify them by either their maiden or their married name.  It is a relatively modern thing, and not just in Scotland, for married women to continue to use their maiden surname.


On 26/03/2020 22:10, LorneandJudy wrote:
And, that is why, they are named by their maiden name on headstones. So helpful, for us into genealogy.
BC Canada

On Mar 25, 2020, at 4:19 PM, Gillie Lomax mailto:gillielomax365@... wrote:

Hello everyone - I have found from my Scottish ancestry that many women retain their maiden surname even when married which makes tracing them so much easier, Gillie Lomax.
On Wed, 25 Mar 2020 at 03:22, Josephine Conray <javc@...> wrote:

Hi Lola


I have search Ancestry and Scotland people. And found the following information it might be yours and it might not, but it something you can work on.


On the 1901 Census it state Catherine McEwing, age 44 her son Robert born 1887in Campbeltown, he is 14 years old and a Gardener’s Apprentice. It seems that she used her married name most of the time maybe it was it was Robert or her family that buried her under her madam name.


Hugh Stewart born Aug 1846/7 Teasdale / Islay Argyll and Died year 1921 age 74 Ref/no 507/7 Cambeltown, Married 1 Dec 1885 Catherine McEwing


Hugh parents are John Stewart 1814 Kilarrow, Argyll  and Mary McCaig b10 Dec 1816 Bowmore, Islay, Argyll & died 2 Dec 1872 Bowmore, Argyll they had 5 Children


John Stewart 1814 parents were  Donald Stewart & Betsy Brown. They were married 27 Mar 1806 Killarrow, Argyll.



Catherine McEwing born 10 May 1857 Campbeltown and died 18 May 1921 Campbeltown . Death under the name of Catherine McEwing, age 64 Death 1921 Ref/no 507/42 Campbeltown


Her Parents Joseph McEwing 24/7/1828 Campbeltown , Argyll and Died14 /6/ 1888, Campbeltowm, Argyll  married 13 Dec 1853 Campbeltown Argyll Film No 1041005 to

Mary Wallace 6 Jan 1829 Carradale, Argyll and died 7 Nov 1895.


Joseph parents were John McEwing 28 Jan 1807 Islay and died 22march 1869 and Flora Stevenson 1797 Islay, died 17 Oct 1866


Mary Parents were John Wallace 5 Mat 1793  Killean & Kilchenzie and deid about 1851-1855 & Margaret Gilchrist born 26 March 1802 Kilcalmonell Argyll and Died 10 Aug 1861 South Beachmore, Argyll Scotland.


I hope this helps


Qld Aust.



From: [] On Behalf Of Cas Houston
Sent: Tuesday, 24 March 2020 1:40 AM
Subject: Re: [ScotGen] McEwing/Stewart/McCaig/Wallace—Islay/ Campbeltown


Looks like Hugh and his wife both died in Campbeltown in 1921.


On Sun, 22 Mar 2020, 6:02 pm Lola Cook, <lola.cook@...> wrote:

Still trying to find out what happened to my elusive Grandfather, Hugh Stewart, born 1846 on Islay, married Catherine McEwing 1885 in Campbeltown then disappeared.
Lola Cook

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