‘Mr. Jas. M. O.’Dowd.,:’might be a typical greeting on a letter.
One poor boy was given the middle name of J – that’s it. His whole life Americans wanted to punctuate it, and he yelled out them, it doesn’t take a period, it’s just ‘J’. To which the other Americans nodded, and mentally added a full-stop. (His name was Clinton J Parkhouse.)
This stuff matters if you’re searching Google Books. If you have a Richard Welch Feltham, in England he’d be either:
Feltham, Richard W.; orIn the US, he’d usually be ‘Richard W. Feltham’. Yes, you’ll spot that older UK records included punctuated initials.
R. W. Feltham
So if you read of a W H Morgan or W J Roberts, what are their names? Well for sure that’s William Henry and William John. And F W Jones – well that’d be Frederick William Jones, or just possibly Francis William. Interpreting initials is a fairly easy business.
I needed to prove that a BGH Jones living in Lancaster was married to a woman called Elizabeth A. (This was to prove Elizabeth wasn’t my Elizabeth A Jones born 1949 in Wolverhampton.) If you need to work with initials, the findmypast marriage finder (link) is the place to go. Sure enough Bonar Glyn H Jones turns up as marrying a lady called Elizabeth.