Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Do The Spelling Rules Apply To Names?

I have often caught myself misspelling surnames because of the spelling rules I learned as a child. I was a good speller, always getting “A’s” in spelling, but since I’ve started doing genealogy research, I have found that some of the rules of spelling and pronunciation seem to have been broken.

This one rule: “I” before “E” except after “C” or when used as an “A” as in “neighbour” and “weigh” I have a real problem with. What is the correct pronunciation of “O’Neil”, is it an “E” sound or an “A” sound? I have never heard it pronounced the way that it is supposed to sound, according to the “rules”. “Freisman” is another example of rules being broken, you can tell by the misspellings in the censuses that it was an “e” sound, I’ve never ran into any that have spelled it with an “A” sound, only “E” sounds. Has anyone else ran into this with any of their surnames?

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