Spelling of Place Names

I was prompted to write this post after I saw these two tweets.

I have recently got myself a copy of TNG to work with privately (some time in the future I intend to get all my research online using it) and one of the features I am very taken with is the ability to view all your place names used in the various facts attached to each person in your tree. I was aware that there were different spellings of many of the place names in Unst throughout the records, but until I started to use TNG I couldn’t see the extent of differences.

It’s allowing me to easily normalise the spellings I use throughout my tree so that it is clear when the same place is being named. I knew a time would come when this normalisation task would need to be done, and I had originally imagined that I would choose the spelling of place names based on those used on maps. However, now that I’ve come to actually do the task, I have made a different decision.

I have found with a number of the place names that I have started looking at, that the most commonly used spelling is not the same as the one on the maps, and I have decided that it is more appropriate to use the most commonly used spelling as written by a local – all census enumerators were local men – rather than the spelling on a map created by outsiders to the area.

In normalising the place names I don’t intend to throw away all the other spellings, they will be kept as alternate spellings against each place name.

Here are a few examples of the place names that I’ve seen multiple spellings for through the various records for Unst, with an asterisk marking the chosen spelling.

Map of Petester

Map showing the houses of Petester. Click on the map to go to the zoom-able version on NLS the website

Spellings
Petester
Petister *
Pettister
Spellings
Feall
Feal *
Phael
Phail
Phaill
Pheal *
Pheall
Phiall
Fjeal
Map of Feall

Map showing the houses of Feall. Click on the map to go to the zoom-able version on NLS the website

Muriscoe

Map showing Murrasko. Click on the map to go to the zoom-able version on NLS the website

Spellings
Mooraskoe
Muirescoe
Muirskoe
Mures Coe
Muriascoe
Murris Coe
Murrisgio
No strong favourite. Different in every document!
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