When working with genealogical records for people who lived 100+ years ago, you get to see first names that are not now in common use. Many of the names rarely seen now are female versions of other male names. The table shows a selection, all of which are formed by adding “ina” to the male name.
|Male form||Female form||Derivative|
|William||Williamina||Willa or Mina|
One of those names, Thomasina, has an oft used derivative, Tamar, which definitely confused some of the census transcribers. It’s a girls name, and yet frequently I have seen people with this name, listed in census returns as the daughter or wife of the head of the house, transcribed as James. Looking at the way the letters are written in examples of the old hand-writing it is almost forgivable, the “T” does look like a “J” in old script writing, then you have “am”, easy to assume it is “James”.
Mind you, the gender of the person ought to have made the transcriber double check, and also, in this case, six lines above there is a real “James” in the same handwriting. Perhaps we can forgive them however, as names are not always used the way we expect them to be, for example, would you expect ‘Bruce’ to be a female name?
I’ve seen it so often now, that whenever I see “James” I will double check the gender, and if it’s female, smile to myself and think, “that’ll be another Tamar then”.