PENNSYLVANIA ORIGINAL LAND RECORDS SERIES FOR YORK COUNTY, PA

 

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A NOTE ON THE SPELLING OF FAMILY NAMES

Those doing researches into family records in this region need to be aware of one peculiar phenomenon with regard to variant spelling of family names, especially in some proximity to the Colonial Period. Various records will spell the same person's name in different ways.

Some early settlers could neither read nor write. Others had some basic or rudimentary skills with ready and writing. As a result, as many settlers - especially German-language speakers, gave their name orally to the English-speaking Pennsylvania bureaucracy, a whole host of variant name spellings occurred. Names were written phonetically - the way they sounded to various clerks.

Certain letters "sound" alike, and may be interchangeable in early spellings. The letters "B," and "P" may be interchanged, such in the name "Bixler" or "Pixler." Similarly the letters "C," "K," and "G" as 'gutterals' may be interchangeable - such as in the name "Glatfelter," "Klatfelter" or "Clatfelter."

The Scotch-Irish family name " Sinclair" is spelled in some records as Sinkler, Sinclare, or even St. Clare. Variant spelling was the rule, rather than the exception, especially during the early years of county settlement.

For the sake of continuity, the author has Anglicized German name spellings. "Heinrich" becomes Henry; "Johann" is John, etc. Variant and Germanic spellings, however, are usually cross-referenced.

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