We have always known Ruth’s grandmother as Susan Hervey Wales Rollason.
In researching her birth documentation, we found a record of a Dorothy Wales on Family Search, born to George R Wales and Mabel Hervey in Brookline, MA on 2 November 1889. Correct parents, date and place. But Dorothy? The birth record from the Massachusetts State Archives clearly states Dorothy. What’s the story? Twins? Or a name change?
Exploring further on Family Search we also found a second birth record from Brookline for “Susan Hervey Wales” – same date and same parents. Since this source did not have online images I ordered the microfilm and when it arrived I discovered the following:
Susan’s mother, Mabel Wales had gone back to the town clerk in Brookline in 1924 (Susan was now 35 and married) and corrected the record, saying that her daughter was given the name “Susan Hervey Wales” at her baptism.
With some further research we discovered that the Wales family at the time of Susan’s birth were active members of the Church of Our Saviour in Brookline. We contacted the church and the Rector was kind enough to send us this image of the Baptismal records:
Indeed George and Mabel Wales christened their daughter “Susan Hervey Wales” when she was baptized on May 18, 1890. You can read more about the Wales family at Church of Our Savior here, and see a picture of the Louis Comfort Tiffany window given to the church by Susan’s grandfather, John Wales.
Two questions remain. Why did Mabel wait until 1924 to change the record at the town clerk’s office? It is very likely that the family discovered the discrepancy when the Wales family – along with Susan and her husband, Rev. Herbert D Rollason, made application for passports to travel to Europe earlier that year.
The second question: why did Mabel and George change the name of their daughter? We have found no clear answer. But we can surmise that when Mabel announced the baby’s name to her mother-in-law, she may have heard: “But there are no Dorothy’s in the Wales family!” It’s interesting that the new name, given the child at her baptism was that of Mabel’s mother-in-law, Susan Howard Rogers Wales.