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In previous years many people could not read or write, and would never - or very rarely - have seen their own names written down. This means that names were usually only spoken and often written phonetically. Imagine the parents giving the name to the vicar at the font: 'John McEwan' - 'Oh, right - John Magowan...' When searching in indexes always try to think of different ways the name could have been spelt (think of possible accents, or someone with a cold...)