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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Lucas Family - King alias Lucas

Usage of alternate surnames was a common practice in 18th century Virginia for free people of color.

Distinctions were sometimes made between those who were freeborn, and those who were emancipated. Thus is you find reference to Sam who was emancipated by John Smith, you might see him described as Sam of Smith, or Sam alias Smith. If he had another name by which he was known other than Smith, you might see him described as Sam Smith alias Jones. The practices varied over time.

Typically you'll also see this for free women of color. Thus they'll be recorded as Jane Smith, even when married in some cases. Or you might see Jane Smith alias Jones.

Sometimes you have to search through a number of records to find the variations in spellings. Every now and then you will locate a document that includes a full name and its associated aliases.

I found one such case recently where members of a free family of color in Richmond, the Vandervalls, used Peters as an alternate surname. The patriarch of the family was a white Vandervall, and the matriarch was a free woman of color, a Peters. Their children and descendants used the surnames interchangeably. But when they did so, they used a middle initial to represent the other surname. Thus when they used Vandervall as a surname, they used the middle initial "P." And when they used Peters as a surname, they used "V" as their middle initial. I have never seen anything like this in other records.

Messages In This Thread

Lucas Family - King alias Lucas
Re: Lucas Family - King alias Lucas

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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