Surnames Belgium - USA

U S A - Belgium         Belgium - U S A

During the emigration of numerous Belgians to the USA, their original name in Belgium was more or less altered. This particularly concerns the great group of emigrants from Walloon Brabant and the North of the Province of Namur, who left Belgium about 1855 / 1856.

These alterations had different causes :
- Some emigrants could not read nor write, and ignored the correct spelling of their name, which already in Belgium was often written in various ways. At the arrival harbour, the immigration formalities were fulfilled by officials trying to write, according to the English phonetics, French or Flemish or German sounding names, often pronounced with various accents.
- Sometimes, the modifications happened during the writing of various acts ( property sale, marriage...).
- Some names were modified to enable an easier English pronunciation.
- Other names were simply translated.
- Several alterations are only copy mistakes, due to a wrong reading of the documents.

Some alterations are easy to guess, but others are more important, and may mislead the searcher. One same original name could have been modified in different ways. On the other hand, it is generally not desirable to restore to the “US” name its original spelling, because this could lead to an additional confusion. It is preferable to admit that such names have two spellings, “before” and “after” the emigration.

Two conversion lists, one in the USA-B way and the other one in the B-USA way, are made available to the searchers. They result from discoveries made during researches. A conversion does not mean that the concerned name has always been interpreted in this way, but that it has been at least observed once. The lists also give several altered place names.

Any correction or addition is welcome.

U S A - Belgium         Belgium - U S A