What’s in a Name?

Very soon I shall be making a deed poll change to my last name. After 11 years of marriage I will be taking on my wife’s current double-barrel surname, and adding her maiden name to my own – henceforth my full last name will be Moskal-Fitzpatrick.

As someone who’s never truly been comfortable with my name, the concept of identity has always been an interesting one to me. It’s not the first time I have changed my last name, in fact from around age 7 to 15 I was known as Woods. Before that my last name was Randle – and perhaps for a few months immediately after I was born I was a Fitzpatrick. In fact I seem to have a birth certificates for all 3, coming from my mother’s divorce, single status and subsequent remarriage.

At 15 I changed to back to Fitzpatrick, looking to undermine school bullies and reinvent myself to a degree. Name changes in order to reinvent yourself are nothing new. In fact there are many incidents in the bible of God handing out new names for those who he has anointed and called out for specific purposes. It’s not uncommon for people to do the same nowadays. Had I been bolder when I was younger, I may have chosen to go by my middle name over my first name – but my feeling now is that it would just cause too much annoyance and confusion to go through that… who knows maybe later when I’m older and bolder?

But right now I’m taking on my wife’s name. Why? I guess there’s a number of reasons:

1) My wife has it – seems logical enough – why should women be the only one’s to change their names after marriage?

2) I don’t really know the father who gave me my genes and name, I don’t have any connection to that side of my family – and by changing my name and taking his – I kind of disassociated myself from the family that I do know… as I’ve gotten older I had a little guilt over that. I guess adopting my wife’s families name doubles down on that – but in a way it makes it into something truly unique.

3) It sounds kind of cool, to me at least.

The interesting thing about names is that you don’t really need a deed poll. You can start referring to yourself as something else whenever you want – there is no legal requirement to go by your given, or family name. The deed poll is so that institutions like banks, councils etc.. will recognise it and accept it on documentation.

Another interesting thing. Your marriage certificate acts like a kind of deed poll. My wife legally changed here name to “Moskal Fitzpatrick” (no dash”-“) when we married.

Realising her mistake, she enquired as to whether she could change it to a “Moskal-Fitzpatrick” and was informed that she has to write it exactly like it is on the marriage certificate. If that’s the case, you could probably change your name to anything using a marriage certificate. Knowing that now gives me a lot of ideas – however I don’t really have the opportunity or desire to try it out for obvious reasons!

However the dash is so minimal, I said to my wife she could probably just start using it anyway and no-one would notice… because it’s so unusual not to have dash that people wouldn’t question it. Also when you don’t have a dash, people tend to assume it’s a middle name in some cases.

I will be using a dash.

So that’s why I’m changing my name. It may not be the last time I do so.