Use * for one or more unknown letters
Use ~ before name for Soundex search
Contact us
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If you have any problems you can't solve or want to send comments,  suggestions  or  additions,  please  use  the Contact Us button on any screen to send us a message.

Please remember, at present this site has only recorded FORENAMES.  Surnames are being added but will take a long time.

Normal Searching

Advanced Searching

1. Wildcard Searches

2. Soundex Searches

3. Browsing


Frequently Asked Questions


Normal Searching

To search for a name, just key the name into the Search box and click on the Go Button.

Use lower or upper case (or a mixture), including accents if desired.  The results will use the upper and lower case letters as stored by What's in a Name including any appropriate accents.  Don't worry about getting accents right, What's in a Name will take care of this for you.  For example, searching for noel will return Noël.  For non-ASCII chracters, we have included the name without the accent with a link to the nationally correct spelling.

[Note some processors may not display accented characters correctly initially, replacing accented characters with a query indicator.  In these cases we have found that a simple "Refresh" will display the correct characters.]

If you are unsure of the exact spelling, you can try these approaches:

1. Try all the possibilities you can think of.

2. Find a known name and see if there are links that can help.

3. Use the Advanced Search features [see below].

When we have only one match, What's in a Name displays the details for that name and its type [Male, Female or Surname] together with brief notes, the source[s] of the information we hold, and lists other names to which it may be related.

If there is more than one match, What's in a Name will display a list of names matching the Search request, each with a suffix letter. Any name may be recorded separately for Female, Male and Surname entries. For example searching on Christie, will produce:

Christie Female 
Christie Male

To display what we have recorded for one of the names in the list, just click on it.  Note that there is a "trail" of names at the top of the display area listing the names you have recently looked at.  You can click on any of these names to have its information displayed again.  The trail is broken whenever your search produces multiple hits.

In the display for the chosen target name, any names which have a known relationship to the target name are displayed underneath the target name, in lists of each existing type of relationship. Examples:

Ian as a variant for Iain
Patrick as a synonym for Peter
Bryan as a spelling of Brian

We have tried to include any common spelling variations and abbreviations from old records in these relationships as aids for searching old documents.  Not all cross connections are made; it may be necessary to link back to a major or principal name to get all spelling variations.  Rare variations and spellings are usually only indicated in the Notes on the main name.

Clicking on any one of the related names will display details for that name.  At some later stage we will be adding the facility to click on the relationship description to display further notes about the relationships of that type.


If you come across other names or relationships that you feel are important,
please use the
Contact Us screen to send a message to the Team.

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Advanced searching - Wildcards or Soundex [not both together]

1.  Wildcards

If you are not sure of the correct spelling of the name you wish to find or cannot read the script, you can use an asterisk [*] as a wildcard for any uncertain character or string of characters. For example, if you enter pet*, What's in a Name will display all names starting with Pet, such as Peter, Petra, the nick-name Pete and the unrelated name Petula, etc.

You may use multiple wildcards if you wish, for example *pet* will, in addition to the above names, also return a list containing Elspet, Elspeth, etc.  This may slow down the response time for the search.

2.  Soundex

What's in a Name also supports Soundex searching. If you prefix your search by the tilde character (~), you will see displayed any names that "sound" like your target name.  This can be a useful way to find names that have alternative spellings.  For example, keying ~Neil will produce a list including Neil, Niall and even Noël.

For a good description of the way names are indexed using Soundex, click here.

NB: Remember you cannot use Wild Card and Soundex in the same search.

3. Browsing

Browsing the database is not specifically supported by What's in a Name. However you can obtain a list of names beginning with a specific letter by entering K*, for example, into the Search box. All names on our database beginning with "K" will be displayed.

You could simply enter an asterisk but you will then have all the names in the database displayed.  This may take a long time to transmit and take even longer to scan and is therefore not recommended [but it is not forbidden!].

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Frequently Asked Questions

An indexed set of Frequently Asked Questions will be found on the FAQ page.


Page last updated November 2013.
Thanks to Donald Whyte who provided much of the initial information for this site. Copyright: Ray Hennessy 2004-2013  
Website development by Akriga