Finding your Hungarian Female Ancestor

                           One of the greatest thing about the 1869 Hungarian census is how they count the women. They are enumerated by their birth names, even if they are married. Occasionally, a widow is given the suffix - “ne" at the end of her husband's name, such as in the name, for example, Mihalyne Nagy, which means " Mrs. Mihaly Nagy " with the "ne" signifying the Hungarian form of " Mrs ".  But the majority of married women are listed with their maiden names. I do not know of any other census from any other country that lists married women with their own birth surname. This custom is also reflected in the majority of Hungarian church records as well.

                           In constructing families from researching parish records in Hungary, its pure joy to land upon records for females being recorded under their maiden names.

                           Until about the 18th century, it’s noted that Hungarian noblewomen kept their names at marriage and their children received their father's name[1][2]. However, there is the unpredictable problem of what form the registrant (clerk, scribe, minister, and priest) will use to record a female ancestor’s name. Most women could not read or write so they would not be the author of their own names in older records.

                           It’s interesting to wonder if the women that were enumerated in the census households in 1869 were most likely present to give their names verbally as they wanted to be known.

                           So while combing through records, it’s important to be alert of three variations while looking for a female Hungarian relative in records,

1.       The woman may go through her life with her maiden name, even in marriage.

2.       The woman may keep her first (given) name with her husband’s surname.

3.       By the old, traditional Hungarian custom, she may inherit her husband’s entire name with the “ne” added at the end.

4.       Very rarely will she annex her maiden name with husband’s surname with a hyphen (the modern way) as in Nagy-Toth.

No doubt, that name variation No. 3 poses many headaches for genealogists when the woman is only known officially, in records, as Mrs. So-and-So. This can happen in any country but luckily, the custom in Hungary does give an advantage that her maiden name will be recorded.[3][4]

In the example below, this Szilaszi family had married females in Jablonca, house No. 74. Zsusanna Toth, Erzebet Nagy and Julianna Klimko are listed with their maiden names. It’s much easier to pair up and solve family groups in family trees when you have the mother's or wife's maiden names.

County District Town House No. Family No. Individual No. Surname Name M F Birthyear Rel. Status Occupation work Birthplace Native
Abauj Torna Jabloncza 74 1 1 Szilaszi Istvan M   1826 Ref Married Farmer   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     2 Toth Zsusanna   F 1830 Ref Married Housewife   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     3 Szilaszi Istvan M   1856 Ref Married     Jablonca  
Abauj Torna Jabloncza   2 1 Szilaszi Mihaly M   1840 Ref Married Farmer   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     2 Nagy Erzebet   F 1836 Ref Married Housewife   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     3 Szilaszi Mihay M   1869 Ref       Jablonca  
Abauj Torna Jabloncza   3 1 Csobadi Istvan M   1831 Ref Married Tenant Farmer   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     2 Klimko Julianna   F 1836 Ref Married Housewife   Jablonca N
Abauj Torna Jabloncza     3 Csobadi Istvan M   1863 Ref       Jablonca