It’s Probably Richard, But…

This letter comprises the “consents” on an 1839 marriage in Mercer County, Kentucky, between Edmund Beesly and Mildred Lake. Their apparent fathers sign the document.

The father of Mildred is Richard Lake. However, that’s not what it looks like in this image. So, should it be transcribed as Ritchard or Bitchard?

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3 thoughts on “It’s Probably Richard, But…

  1. I guess it would depend on whether you had other evidence to show that Mildred’s father’s name was Ritchard. I had the same problem with a church record for someone with the surname Rohr. The indexer had transcribed the name as “Bahr” and it surely looks like that on the original record. However, I had other evidence that this was the person I was looking for (it was a marriage record and subsequent baptisms for the couple clearly showed her maiden name as Rohr, there were no other instances of a family named Bahr at that church) so for my research I transcribed the record as “Rohr” making a note of how I determined that was the correct name.

    • Given that this is a small sample of the clerk’s handwriting, we are limited in words to compare. I see no words beginning with a capital “R.”
      There is only one word beginning with a capital “B” for Beesly as you accepted. The name in. question does not seem to be another ”B” leaving the simple reading as an ”R” for Ritchard. If other documents are in line with this reading of the first letter, I would further posit that the clerk was trying to write Richard as he heard it. He may not have known how to spell it. I have never seen a name “Bitchard” or “Ritchard.” Names have not always been spelled the way we spell them today.

      • Actually it may not even be the clerk’s writing at all. It’s signed by both fathers (and witnessed) and could have been something written up by a “near neighbor” who was most familiar with the law and the required marriage requirements (possibly a Justice of the Peace, but not necessarily) and then signed by the fathers. That document was then taken to the clerk–perhaps with one of the witnesses tagging along.

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