What’s in a name?

One of the things I really enjoy about my job as NHS Grampian Archivist is when I’m asked to give a talk to groups on a particular topic, so when Stonehaven Heritage Society asked if I could speak to them in November 2016 about hospitals in Kincardineshire I was more than happy to oblige.

Writing talks means I can use the records I look after for research, while also increasing my own knowledge of the collections, often finding gems of information along the way.  Researching not only the hospitals in Kincardineshire but also the people from there who had to travel to Aberdeen before there was general hospital provision in the county proved fascinating, not least when it came to two people admitted to Aberdeen Infirmary.

The first dedicated admission register for the Infirmary starts on 13th March 1753 – prior to this, admissions were included in the minute books and later in what are known as day books, or ward journals.

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary admission register showing admissions from December 1753 to January 1754
GRHB 1/3/1 Aberdeen Infirmary Admission Register, 1753-1754

This image shows the page covering 25th December 1753 until 1st January 1754 and shows the admission of two people from Kincardineshire – John Muffert from Arbuthnott on 25th December 1753 and Helen Bleber on 1st January 1754.

Daily register for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary showing details regarding the admission of John Muffert in December 1753.
GRHB 1/4/5 Aberdeen Infirmary Daily Register, December 1753

No. 18 John Muffert from Arbuthnot Aged 40 years
with a large Wen on his Belly which seems only to adhere
to the Muscles.  The Tumour is ulcerated & seems to be
of a Carcinomatous Nature & must be extirpated

A wen is now more commonly described as a cyst, and are usually not classed as cancerous.  However, depending on the size of John’s wen, and how it appeared, it may have looked to be more dangerous.  These cysts can grow to be rather large, and their removal is recommended – thankfully, it’s noted that John was discharged a few days later following a successful removal of the wen.

Daily register for Aberdeen Royal Infirmary showing details regarding the admission of Helen Bleber from Fetteresso in January 1754.
GRHB 1/4/5 Aberdeen Infirmary Daily Register, January 1754

No 21 Admitted this day from Fetteresso Helen Bleber
who has, for more than a year by gone, been much distressed
with fits of the Epiliptick kind; they return at no fixed period.
She is well in the Intervalls, and regular in her menstruation.

Helen Bleber was also discharged not long after her admission, though I haven’t checked the admission registers further to see if she was re-admitted.  Perhaps a small project for anyone who is interested…?

What I do find interesting about these two admissions are the names – Muffert and Bleber.  There’s no-one with the surname Muffert in the statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths which begin in 1855 and those who appear in the Old Parish Registers (OPRs) prior to that date are all from Benholm, Kinneff and Catterline (with the odd one in Montrose, and banns for a marriage being read in Craig parish).  The last baptism is recorded as John Muffert in 1799, while the last marriage is of William Muffert to Margaret Scott in Benholm in December 1819. The last death is a William Muffert in June 1815.  There is also only one entry in the 1841 census, of a Jacobenie Muffert in Sorn parish, Ayr.

Bleber is much the same – the name is concentrated round the Maryculter, Durris and Banchory Devenick area, with the last recorded baptism being Jean Bleber in November 1783 in Maryculter.  The last marriage is Margaret Bleber to James Milne in September 1778 in Durris, and the last death is of Al Bleber in Peterculter in February 1799.

Obviously, the OPRs are full of gaps and not everyone was recorded, but it is interesting that there are no records post 1855 of these surnames.

There may, of course, be more people with the surnames Bleber and Muffert in the hospital admission registers, which might help link in with those who appear in the OPR indexes of baptisms, banns and burials.  The records held by NHS Grampian Archives are available to view in the University of Aberdeen’s Special Collections Centre in the Wolfson Reading Room, and more information can be found by emailing grampian.archives@nhs.net

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