Surname Saturday: Hilarious Hyphenation

Imagine you were able to attend a grand family reunion where all of your current (living) family was there as well as your deceased ancestors. Oh the questions we would have!

Name tags would certainly be mandatory at such an event. As a genealogist, I would ask that all my female ancestors include their maiden name, followed by their married name.  The women would be introduced to the mid-to-late 20th century naming convention of hyphenated surnames.  But not all would be pleased by the joining of the names.

Some names just weren’t meant to be hyphenated. Take for instance my 8th-great grandmother (on the Crosby side) Dorcas Galley.  By today’s standards having such a first name would certainly lead to torment.  Galley is harmless enough, but Dorcas (pronounced just as you would expect) is not a name that I would want to go through elementary school with.  Dorcas, as it turns out, is a biblical name taken from the New Testament; it is the Aramaic form of the name Tabitha. Why Dorcas’ father chose the Aramaic version is a mystery to me, but Dorcas chose to name one of her daughters Tabitha instead of Dorcas.

Now, I did say that the surname Galley was harmless; that is until Dorcas married William Hoar! No longer was she merely a Galley. She was a Galley Hoar. Granted Hoar is not spelled in the more vulgar way, which is fine in print. But it is sure enough pronounced the same.

The other side of my tree, the Garrison side, also produces a hyphenated name that would turn heads and cause any conversation to pause for a moment. My great grandmother Gertrude Wigley was married three times.  It would have been no big deal if she chose to hyphenate her name during the first two marriages. Wigley-Dobbs and Wigley-Weastell wouldn’t cause any stir. However, that all changed with her third marriage to Charles Dix. The name Wigley-Dix would surely turn heads, raise eyebrows and maybe even elicit some audible gasps.

In some ways the joining the  two main branches of my family tree make sense. In the winding double helix of my DNA a Galley-Hoar embraces Wigley-Dix.

Although it makes for a great punchline, it isn’t exactly accurate. Gertrude and Charles Dix had no children. I am descended from Gertrude and John Weastell.  Nonetheless, the women in my family can proudly proclaim they are a Galley-Hoar, or not.

Read More About Gertrude Wigley

Read More About Dorcas (Galley) Hoar


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One Response to “Surname Saturday: Hilarious Hyphenation”

  1. January 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    My mother’s grandmother was a Lysle (pronounced Lyle) and my mother loved her grandmother and wanted to name a son Lysle. However, when she married Charlie Pyle, she realized it would never happen – could you imagine going through school as Lysle Pyle?

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