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FAQ - Why I changed my name


I was born with the surname "Humphreys" but since age 17 have been using the spelling "Humphrys". How come?

It turns out that our ancestors (who were literate for centuries) spelt their surname "Humphrys" consistently from the earliest known records in the 1690s, through land records and gravestones in the 1700s, and through church and state records and gravestones in the 1800s - until the 1890s, when the surname was changed by Dr. David Humphreys and others to "Humphreys" for some reason.

The old spelling reflects the original (probably Norman) Welsh origins. It was pronounced "Hum-friss" or "Um-friss" in Co.Limerick. Alfred O'Rahilly said the Humphrys family didn't like that pronunciation and preferred to pronounce it the more standard "Hum-frees".

Even today, though, despite the Limerick family changing to the spelling "Humphreys", it is still pronounced locally as "Hum-friss" or "Um-friss"

When in 1985 I found out about the old name, I liked it, and just started spelling my name that way. I changed my name officially by deed poll in 1988. No one else in my family changed, so I now spell my name different to my father and my brothers. I did surprise my father though by discovering that his father was born "Humphrys" in 1896.

My four children use the spelling "Humphrys", so I have started a whole new branch of the tree with this spelling.



The long "Humphrys" tradition



The grave of my great-great-great-great-grandfather William Humphrys, showing the old spelling.



The grave of my great-great-grandfather James Humphrys, showing the old spelling.



Stained glass window erected in memory of my great-great-grandfather James Humphrys and his wife, by their son Fr. James Humphrys.



Tiled floor at the door of my great-granduncle Mick Humphrys' pub, 81 Dame St, Dublin.



Grave of my grandfather's 1st cousins, showing the old spelling.




Dr. David changes the spelling

The first clear appearance of the new spelling is "Dr. Humphreys" on a Christmas card from Dr. David in 1894-95.



The marriage settlement 1895 of my great-grandfather Dr. David Humphreys shows the new spelling.
He also spells his brother Fr. James as "Humphreys".
See full size.



However then the marriage cert 1895 shows the old spelling.
Dr. David had been baptised with the old spelling in 1861.



The birth cert of my grandfather Dick, 1896, shows the old spelling.



The birth cert of my grandaunt Sighle, Feb 1899, shows the new spelling.



The will of Dr.David, Dec 1899, showing the new spelling.
He also spells his mother as "Humphreys".
See full size.



The will of Richard Rahilly's widow, 1903.
Think this is a transcript rather than the original, but either way it shows someone confused about whether to use the old spelling or the new spelling for her daughter Nell.
See full size.



Same for her grandson Dick.
From above. See full size.




St.Enda's


My grandfather Dick Humphreys, age 14, sports day, St.Enda's, Cullenswood House, Ranelagh, 24th May 1910.
From [An Macaomh, Christmas 1910]. See full size.
Possibly St.Enda's are using the old spelling because that is what is on his birth cert.




From [An Macaomh, Christmas 1910]. See full size.



Continuation of above. See full size.





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