These records were kept by English-speakers, whose knowledge and interest in the local people was often slight.
The translations of Gaelic names often depended on the whim of the individual registrar, and as registrars changed, so did the names in the Register. Apart from the usual mixture like Catherine—Kate, and Margaret—Peggy, which occur in all registers, the island registers also confuse Angus—Aeneas, Finlay—Philip, Effie—Euphemia—Henrietta, Marion—Sarah, Gormelia—Dorcas—Dorothy, Rebecca—Betsy—Sophie, and very many more. It is not at all uncommon, especially with girls’ names, to find birth, marriage and death registrations all showing different variant translations.
Because of these problems, there seemed to be no point in making any attempt to reproduce the actual names shown in register entries, etc. Instead, we have used our own standardised equivalents of names, which, although in a sense equally arbitrary, are at least consistent. So, Christina, Christian, Christine, Christy, Chirsty, etc., are all shown as Kirsty, as being the nearest equivalent in sound to the Gaelic Ciorstag, which is the name the lady would probably have used herself!
Dates can be another problem with island families. Those derived from Civil Registration of Marriages and Deaths are generally accurate, though those of Births are much less so. OPR entries often do not distinguish between dates of birth and baptism, which especially in the remoter areas could be quite different. Census ages are notoriously inaccurate, but in most cases an average has been taken from census, OPR, etc., to give the dates of birth shown. Dates of deaths, taken from civil registration, have been shown, up to 1920, and dates of marriages, where shown, are taken from that source or from OPR. Individual extract entries can be obtained if desired, at extra cost.
To make up for the deficiencies of these usual sources, we have to rely on secondary sources, such as Estate Rentals, etc., many of which show names in patronymic form, and on oral tradition. This latter is often discounted by genealogists, as it cannot usually be proved, but it should be remembered that it is of local origin, and consequently likely to be more accurate than many of the written records compiled by outsiders. These sources can frequently be used to extend family trees into the early or middle eighteenth century, and sometimes much further.
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