Betty Yes, I too was under the impression that the surname spelling was quite arbitrary. Although quite new to the genealogy research, I have noticed that the surname has varied between Elkington, Elkerton, Elkinton and Elkingten, sometimes within the same generation, and (especially in the 19c) often differing between birth certificate, marriage certificate and death certificate for the same individual. I suspect that, when one is semi-literate and living in abject poverty as many of my antecedents seem to have been, consistency of spelling one's surname does not feature highly on the list of priorities. Incidentally, although now retired, I spent a part of my working life in Athens and was provided with a local admin team, including a Greek secretary. The poor girl had never seen an English keyboard before and struggled a bit with the unfamiliar alphabet. Her first attempt at typing a letter ended with my name spelt as "Klib Elkintingtong"!