The Problem with Names Part 1: How’s that Spelled?

The Problem with Names Part 1: How’s that Spelled?

Many of the first wave of Portuguese immigrants carried very little if any documentation with them. They were most likely poor and illiterate. The people in Hawaiian taking information from these immigrants usually had no prior knowledge of the language. Portuguese enunciation was different from what they were used to. Also, the recorder wasn’t always sure what to do with the de, da, and d’. They often blended these with the rest of the name. Because of this, the recorder often relied on phonetic spellings of names. This lead to some pretty creative name variations. You’ll notice this especially in the pre-1910 civil records and the 1900 and 1910 US Census.

Here are some examples of some variations. Note that these names have variants within the Portuguese language itself. Those listed are to give you and idea of what you might see in Hawaiian records and is not a comprehensive list of all variations.
First Names:

Alexandrina – Shandrina, Santalina, Lexandrina, Sandarina, Sandrina, Schandarina
Apolniaro – Pulunaro
Georgiana – Jorgina
Gertrudes – Stuiz
Guilherme – Whilhelm, William, Willie
Jacinta – Josinta, Jacintze
Jacinto -Jacinth, Josenth, Jocinth, Josento
Joao – Joa, Joas, Juau, Jo, Juan, Joam
Joaquim – Jorquin, Jockin, Joachem, Joacim
Joaquina – Jockina, Juakina
Leanor – Eleanor, Nora
Maria – Malia
Sebastiao – Cebastion, Sebastinan
Sezoro – Casar, Cesar

I found this on a ship list 1914, from Honolulu to San Francisco.  Manoel’s surname is Algravia (or Algarvio, though he went by Algrava).  Schandarina is really Alexandrinha.

Ship Index 1914 with Misspelled Names


Amaral – Maral
d’Arruda – Ruda, Darud, Darudda
Botelho – Boulterlho, Buttelo
Braga – Brugga, Bragas, Brag
Ferreira – Freira
Freitas – Frates, Freits
Medeiros – Maderos, Mideras, Mederios, Madeiro
Moniz – Munis, Manis
de Ornellas – Dorneilho, Dornellance, Dornel
Pacheco – Pusheco, Parcheco
Paulos – Palles
Pavao – Pavon, Pavong
Pereira – Preira, Pierera
Reis – Rees, Raes
Remoaldo – Ramol
Quintana – Kintara
Souza – Susa, Suza
Teves – Tavas
Texeira – Terceira, Tacheira, Teshere




Originally published on 2009, revised 2015
copyright 2009-2015 Melody Lassalle – All Rights Reserved

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