Question re Polish parents' anglicised names on 1896 UK Naturalization Certificate #poland #unitedkingdom

Barry Clarke

I have two 1896 UK Naturalization Certificates of Polish ancestors who were naturalized with anglicised names only. That I understand. What throws me is that these documents that require also parents' first names, in both cases give those first names in anglicised versions too. While I cannot be certain, I am nevertheless fairly confident that neither set of parents left Poland. Do I have to be wrong or could I be right?? In other words, was it usual to anglicise all parents' names on these documents, regardless of whether they were in the UK or not?

Barry Clarke
British living in Sarasota, Florida

Risa Heywood

Yes, Barry, you are exactly right. I see it all the time on American records. Immigrants would often Anglicize their parents names on records whether or not the parents immigrated. Having said that, make sure that the parents didn't come at a later date if you have confirmed that they didn't immigrate with the child or children.

I have been surprised several times at finding parents or just a widowed parent immigrating in their later years. I say that it is surprising because the family stories for those lines indicated that the children immigrated but the parents stayed behind. And that wasn't the case. The parent or parents came later to join their children. 
Risa Daitzman Heywood

Sherri Bobish


I have numerous vital records from New York City where names of people who never left Poland or Russia were given Americanized names by the informant.

My favorite is when my gggm Gitel became Susie.


Sherri Bobish
Princeton, NJ

Searching:  RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON, Arliogala (Rogala), Lith.
WALTZMAN / WALZMAN, Ustrzyki Dolne (Istryker), Pol.
BOJDA  / BLEIWEISS, Tarnobrzeg, Pol.
BOBISH, Odessa
SOLON / SOLAN / SOKOLSKY, Grodek (Bialystok)

Peter Lebensold

I have a somewhat similar situation where people who my mother had always told me were relatives had been using a newly-adopted surname (WERNER) since their arrival in the U.K. in 1907.  On their application (in 1913) for U.K. Naturalization, they not only used their new - WERNER - family name but also (I guess to keep things simple) retroactively renamed the parents of the groom (back in Poland) as WERNERs too!  Needless to say, this made finding any relevant earlier Polish records quite difficult ... until it dawned on me that, while they might have changed the parents' surname, they were unlikely to have gone to the trouble of changing their given names or their home town.  A search of JRI-Poland with both the WERNERs' given names quickly found their wedding registration - as SZAFIRs, my mother's maiden surname.  I suspect that no one, at the time, ever bothered to check (even if they could be found) any of the Polish records.  There is no indication that the SZAFIR parents ever used the name WERNER.

Barry Clarke

Your response and confirmation much appreciated. Seems likely the case is the same in the UK.


Barry Clarke

Sheila Toffell

Hi Barry,
Yes I have seen this in NYC death records where the parent's names were Americanized but the parents never set foot in the US. It can be very frustrating if you were hoping to find the original names of the parents or spouse of the deceased.

Sheila Toffell
Glen Rock NJ


leslie rubinson <lrubinson@...>

I have seen the same thing on u.s. Certificates. My relative,s mother,s maiden name was listed as Sophie sheinerockel on his death cert in 1921. it took me a few minutes to figure out her name was really sheine  ruchel. I later found a record on jewishgen confirming this.

Leslie Rubinson

Andy Monat

I too have seen records in New York where parents who presumably never left Europe were given anglicized names. Most of the times when the first name of a non-immigrant ancestor was anglicized, it turned out to be the name that was used by a descendant in the US. So for instance, the father Zalman Rivlin was listed as Samuel Rivlin, the same as his two grandsons went by in English; but the grandsons' Hebrew names were Zalman. (That case was especially confusing, because the father Zalman/"Samuel" Rivlin had a son Shlomo/Samuel Rivlin, thus leading to three consecutive generations who were all listed as Samuel!)

I even found one case where a mother was listed on one daughter's death record as Bessie, and that was crossed out and replaced with a typewritten name Sarah Minnie Maisen. A year later, the other daughter's death record gave the mother's name as Bessie, with no surname listed. The mother (Bessie or Sarah Minnie) had two granddaughters, one named Bessie/Betsy (and Bashe in an immigration record), the other named Sarah Minnie. So the descendants were pretty sure that one of those two granddaughters had been named for the grandmother, they just weren't in agreement on which one.

Jill Whitehead

British Naturalisation certificates were based on information submitted by the applicant (always male in the late 19th century) either directly or through their agent. These asked for the names of the applicants' parents, so it would be up to the applicant or their agent, if they chose to anglicise them. The son of my great grand aunt Claude Isaac Michaelson born Edinburgh 1870 (and the first of his family to be born in the UK, and so educated here) was the agent for 40 Edinburgh worthies being naturalised in the 1890's and then the first decade of the 20th century, the first being his three uncles including my Great grandfather Benjamin Brown, and their cousin Arthur Brown. He used the first names of the applicants as they were known in the UK (e.g. Arthur rather than Abraham), but used the original first names for both their male and female parents, being Jacob and Rachel Leah, and Gershon Joseph and Rebecca, who did not migrate.

My great grandfather Joseph Servian (born Josiel Serwianski)  in Liverpool used Lynskeys, Jewish solicitors, for his naturalisation. He did the same as Claude Michaelson in Edinburgh in terms of names. 

In Hull and Grimsby my great grandfather Aaron Guttenberg applied for naturalisation three times before he succeded (there were quotas). His certificate gives his father as Levi Guttenberg , although on Polish records he is given as Leib. Leib lived in Rajgrod until he died aged 95. Aaron called his house Liondale after Leib, and various grandchildren were called Lionel after Leib. All these names were interchangeable. Names were pretty flexible then anyway - Aaron's wife was variusly known as Hadassah, Basha, Bertha, and Betsy.

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

Howard Lewis

I have the opposite problem with one of my great grandfathers who listed the names of his parents and his place of origin (Oshmiany) but stated in his naturalisation application that his surname was Smith. It is as if he was trying to take as commonplace an English name as possible to break his familial ties. We have still not discovered his original name back home.