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Name abbreviations

Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:19 pm
by Tiny Castle
We are having a bit of trouble
In our regimental role a lot of names are obvious like Chas for Charles etc
But "JNS" has got us baffled
Any ideas?
Could Johnson be a first name in the early 1800's??

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:41 am
by mally ley
Don't know if Jonas is appropriate for that period? Are you sure it is JNS - could it be JaMeS?

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:07 am
by Brother Ranulf
You don't say which group you are referring to so the context is a bit hazy; Johnson is extremely unlikely as a first name in England before the modern era, but more likely in say a slave population in the East Indies or the USA in the 19th century.

The Latin form of John is "Johannes", which I think was retained in Dutch and some other European languages. While I am not aware of JNS being used as a straight abbreviation for John in England, it is a firm possibility.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:05 pm
by Tiny Castle
I am researching the regimental records of the 32nd Cornwall regiment of foot 1808-1815
It is certainly JNS
JMS I could work out for James but JNS ???

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:27 pm
by steve stanley
I'll go along with Jonas.....sounds right for the period.

Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:45 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
Could it just be his initials? Or are dates involved? 'I's and 'J's look the same in some scripts - could it be short for 'Ianuarius? (January) Just a thort.

The standard parish register abbreviation for 'James' seems to be 'Jas'. For 'John' it's 'Jno'. William is invariably 'Wm', etc. 'Christopher' is often 'X-pher'. I haven't seen 'JNS' in my travels - how sure are you of the handwriting is my first thought? Can you show us it within the context? That would be interesting!

I spend a lot of time with 17thC, 18thC and 19thC parish records and 'Jonas' is not a name I've ever come across, for the 18thC. Not that it didn't exist but it's so uncommon that in the random sample of the few dozen Anglican records we trawl for our research - we haven't seen it. Maybe it would be more likely for a Non conformist for the 19thC, but 18thC it's less common - not impossible but... you'd be amazed at their conformity...

Until the mid 19thC you can find entire families on the IGI if you have a surname, randomly feeding in: William, John, George, James, Henry for the males and Mary, Ann, Mary Ann, Hannah, Jane, Elizabeth for the females. Not to say it will catch them all but it will start you off!

Surnames as forenames is a big Yorkshire phenomena - but much less so than you'd imagine and rarer - but of course not unknown - elsewhere - depends on date, region but also social class. I have an 18thC ancestor with the forename 'Wilson' and a 19thC one whose first name was 'Newrack' - both Yorkshire. As abbreviations are only for names so common that anyone could decypher them - it's not likely to be either 'Jonas' or 'Johnson' for that reason. Hope that helps!

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:56 pm
by Yorkshire Lass
I wonder if it is indeed initials. It's hard to tell without looking at the entry. There are no uniquely Cornish/Devonian names that spring to mind given that period beyond the occasional (and this is something I have only seen in Irish family history but it could have stretched to Cornwall) use of Janus for James. Perhaps the key to this lies with the Cornwall connection if it is a contraction of a Christian name. Even names like Iago - if you substituted the J with an I wouldn't fit. Any chance of a scan of the original? *loves a puzzle*

I agree with the Viscomtesse that Jonas is not a name that occurs greatly, certainly in the North of England records in my experience. I wonder if Jonas crops up more in the West? And also agree that it would need to be a common name to be abbreviated. You could practically see the censor scratching his head when given the name Brierley (one of my rabble) as a forename. So much so that for succesive decades they spelled it incorrectly every time - but never abbreviated it.

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:18 pm
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
I suspect that JNS may be summat else because abbreviations were only used for really common names - no point in them otherwise. So maybe the 'JNS' is something that's not a name? Or it's a difficult to read hand? I'd love to see a scan of it - not that I know anything about it just cos it's interesting!

Ello YorkshireLass (I'm one of them too!) - one thing we forget is that til Dr Johnson's Dictionary (and even after then) language wasn't seen as a fixed thing at all - they had no concept of 'the proper/right way' to spell owt - names included! So you will see vast inconsistencies continually well into the 18thC. Language was still a fluid thing, and they didn't have the rigid sense of it that we have now!

Some I've seen are Tuby/Huby, Mosey/Moses; Rhodehouse/Roodhouse, Hebden/Hepton - Rawson/Rowson.

As for abbreviations, though, they do seem to be very consistent - assumption being the next person who comes along can read it.

Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:43 pm
by Tiny Castle
Thanks for everyones continued help
I am making progress with Jonas it really does (suprisingly) seem to be a popular first name for the late 1700's
If I can get some birth records I will post them
I am amazed as Jonas is not a name I had encountered before

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:17 am
by Tiny Castle
With all your help I chased the Jonas idea and Bingo 57 recorded just on the first trawl
International Genealogical Index / British Isles - 57
Select records to download - (50 maximum)
1. Jonas Trethewy - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 1774 Of, Saint Stephen In Brannel, Cornwall, England

2. Jonas Matthews - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: About 1785 Of St Agnes, , Cornwall, England

3. Jonas Parsley Hardy - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 1782 Falmouth, Cornwall, England

4. Jonas Tonkin - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: About 1771 Of, Wendron, Cornwall, England

5. Jonas Trethewy - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 1774 Of, Saint Stephen In Brannel, Cornwall, England

6. Jonas Trethewy - International Genealogical Index

So a much more common name than I think anyone expected
Many thanks

Posted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:25 pm
by Yorkshire Lass
Glad you found it! All I would say is that at least three of those records appear to be the same Jonas.:-) However - evidence looks like it would have been a common enough name for an abbreviation. I think locality is everything when researching names.

And Parsley.. what a fab name. Jonas Parsley Hardy is a name you would think twice about messing with!

What was the surname, btw? Just out of interest so we know who your Jonas is.

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:33 am
by ViscontesseD'Asbeau
That's interesting, that - as I say never seen it even once, here. :D Never seen the non conformist records, though and they'd probably tell a diff tale. The names in this particular parish in the 18thC and 19thC (apart from my own family and the vicar's who choose more colourful names) are amazingly bland and predictable. Suspect the non conformists had far more exciting Old Testament style names.

One thing we spotted was, when local families emigrated within just a couple of years leaving parishes where everyone had the same names, and conservatism ruled... the babies christened there had these weird made-up 'new' names., no longer constrained presumably, by living in a small Yorkshire parish.. Also, the adults' names changed so someone who in England had been plain Jane Wood, in the US became Jane 'Belle' Moses Wood Roodhouse. (That American thing of calling people 'Jr' or 'III' seems to hit as soon as they step off the boat!) Shows how culture specific names are.