headstone photo

Notice the differences in spelling and how the "G" in BOGAN looks like a "C".

Spelling of Names

Variations in the spellings of the names of Newfoundland should not be ignored in your research. During the course of this project it was common to find different spellings of the same surname in a single community, in a single cemetery, and even on the same stone! Several times a surname was spelled three or four different ways in the same cemetery.

If you are not already familiar with the various spellings of your surnames of interest, use the dig.exe tool to generate a list of one example of every surname for the town or region in which your research is concentrated. Look through the list for variations in the spelling. A good rule to follow is that if it sort of sounds the same, then it is worth consideration.

Many Newfoundlanders have a strong accent, along with some different rules for pronunciation. If you interview your relatives there, you might find it somewhat frustrating that the letter "H" is often not pronounced at the beginning of a word. Consequently the names "Helen" and "Ellen" sound exactly the same.

Surnames were almost always spelled in the database the way they were found carved on the stones, even if all other instances of that surname in the same cemetery were spelled differently. However, the spellings were frequently changed when the markers were wooden crosses or temporary in nature, and when the spellings appeared to be in error based on others nearby.