Recording women's names from Wills

Even before starting with RM, I have always used a woman’s maiden name as her “primary name”, when I can determine it. I’ve created a new Fact–Will Signed–with additional Roles for Heir, Executor, Heir/Executor, and Witness, and have started sharing the Will Signed fact with the relevant persons. I’m now trying to get the Fact Sentence to behave the way I want. Here’s my problem…

When a married woman is listed in a will, it of course shows her married name. However, the fact sentence, which uses her Primary (maiden) name, doesn’t match and could be confusing to readers. I’ve read numerous posts here about handling maiden/married names, Alt vs Primary, etc. etc., and I don’t believe there’s an easy solution using a Fact Sentence template. Especially given situations where one woman appears on multiple wills at different times for different husbands, and therefore with different married names.

I’m leaning towards using the Description field to record the names of heirs, executors, and witnesses as shown in the will and just referencing [Desc] in the sentence template. I will continue to use the Roles when sharing facts as the associations are a useful detective tool.

Does this approach sound reasonable? Any brilliant suggestions for doing this better?


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You could add the description BUT I think it will cause more problems as you can’t have several different descriptions used in one will such as wife’s married name and that an Executor declined and another one appointed in the same fact…

Thanks to a post way back in March 2022 by @jnunnally Source Template Question - wife's married name - #2 by jnunnally
I was able to finally figure this out…

Make another Role-- Wife and use the following sentence
[ThisPerson:Given] ([ThisPerson:Surname]) [person:Surname] was named an heir in the will of [person]< [Date]>< [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>
Report will say
Mary (Acorn) Lee was named an heir in the will of Sid Lee on 4 May 1945 at 200 Mayberry St in London England.
note-- just edit the above sentence till you get it to say what you want…

Then make sure it doesn’t mess with any of the other shared facts the 1st couple of times used as I had 2 messed up BUT NOT sure what caused it as I tried many things before I got this right…

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Thanks for the reference and the example! That will handle the situation, including the multiple surnames problem. Excellent!

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Thanks again for the suggestion @nkess; that works perfectly for wives. I still have the situation where married daughters are not listed correctly. I don’t see anyway in the fact sentence template language to pick up daughter’s married names.

I’m trying to avoid using Alternate Names for women, but even if I did that, I don’t think there’s a way to reference them in a fact sentence.

Any other wisdom?

As I just started playing around with fact sentences a little over a year ago, I suspect somebody much more experienced and smarter than me is going to have to figure it out–and we have lots of very smart people on here…

I fooled around with it some today and couldn’t get it to work BUT will think and work on it some more…

Apparently, the [Spouse] variable needs to be present in order to access the surname of the husband to get the married name of the wife. The [Spouse] variable is available for couple facts like Marriage, Divorce, and Anniversary but not for individual facts. Excerpted from:
Customize Sentence - RootsMagic - RootsMagic Community

Thanks for the insight.

I was able to figure out 2 different ways to do this

First one and probably the easiest is to use the description for her married name…

what you need to do is create a new ROLE under will-- name something like married daughter and use the fact sentence of

[ThisPerson:Given] ([ThisPerson:Surname])< [desc]> was named an heir in the will of [person]< [Date]>< [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.
note-- you can leave out ([ThisPerson:Surname]) if you want…

Sentence will now read

Katydid (Lee) Bixby was named an heir in the will of Sid Lee on 4 May 1945 at 200 Mayberry St in London England.

PROBLEM-- I had suggested you add description to the Role of Heir and Executor–if you did so, every time you use a married name in description, it will show up in his sentence-- every time you use description on Heir/ Executor, it will show up on her sentence such as

Katydid (Lee) He declined due to having moved out of country-so his mother Mary Acorn became Executor. Bixby was named an heir in the will of Sid Lee on 4 May 1945 at 200 Mayberry St in London England.

So you can go to his edit screen, pick the fact Heir/Executor and edit desc out by using customized at the bottom then make sure under her description where you put Bixby that his sentence is erased…
more to come

2nd way–
This time, you are going to make a new fact–name it something like Will-Married daughter-- You are GOING TO MARK THIS AS A FAMILY FACT– check place/ place details/ date and description and use the following sentence

[Person:Given] [Person:Surname] <%'s wife|wife of|>< [Spouse:Given:Surname] was named an heir in the will of [desc]> <[Date]> < [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.

Her sentence reads

Katydid Lee wife of Mark Bixby was named an heir in the will of her father, Sid Lee on 4 May 1945 at 200 Mayberry St in London England.

his sentence reads

Mark Bixby 's wife Katydid Lee was named an heir in the will of her father, Sid Lee on 4 May 1945 at 200 Mayberry St in London England.

One note—since this is a couple’s fact, only one of the above sentences will print in a report----IF you are going to print a narrative report, always set up your report with her (or an ancestor) as the 1st person…

I really like this better than the other one as I have seen it recorded in early wills like this BUT usually it has my daughter Katydid nee Lee wife of Mark Bixby…

If by chance you have a couple who divorced and she never remarried, you can customize the sentence for this one instance on her edit page by putting ex- before both instances of wife in this part <%'s wife|wife of|>…

I know it’s NOT exactly what you wanted BUT since I had to use a FAMILY FACT, there is only one sentence that is used for both-- you can’t delete the hubby’s fact as it deletes her also and I can NOT figure out how to use a switch to get Bixby as the last name for both…

@markwhidby --on the 2nd way that I suggested—in the main fact sentence, I was trying to find a switch to use that would automatically use the Spouse Surname for the wife without changing the hubby’s surname–I think you should be able to do it BUT can NOT figure it out…

I did however figure out 2 ways you can get the married name for the wife to appear…

You keep your MAIN fact sentence as listed above
[Person:Given] [Person:Surname] <%'s wife|wife of|>< [Spouse:Given:Surname] was named an heir in the will of [desc]> <[Date]> < [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.

Then I would go in and create a fact for the couple-- for example Mark Bixby and Katydid Lee–once you create the fact, go down and click on CUSTOMIZE–In both ways you are going to remove [Person:Surname]
Then either

  1. just put his surname in there–for example

[Person:Given] Bixby <%'s wife|wife of|>< [Spouse:Given:Surname] was named an heir in the will of [desc]> <[Date]> < [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>.

Your sentence will now read
Katydid Bixby wife of Mark Bixby …

2nd option use a switch with his name|(her maiden name) his name

[Person:Given]<%Bixby| (Lee) Bixby|> <%'s wife|wife of|>< [Spouse:Given:Surname] was named an heir in the will of [desc]> <[Date]> < [PlaceDetails]>< [Place]>
Sentence now reads
Katydid (Lee) Bixby wife of Mark Bixby …

@nkess thank you very much for the continued investigation on this, and the suggestions. I really like your second approach, using the family fact. I’m probably going to be OK with the “…wife of…” construct in the template. Honestly, I’d prefer to minimize or avoid altogether having to customize the sentences. I’m going to modify my current entries and see how well it covers the variations I have.

Thanks again!