GFolks that once had different surnames

Golding / Golden / Goulding et al Family History on Facebook


Golden name variationsSome GFolks once had different names

A surname (last name) is a hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a given name (first name).

Please keep in mind that hereditary surnames are a relatively modern invention, beginning around 1300-1400 for the British Isles and happening as recently as 1800-1870 for much of the rest of the world.

Hereditary surnames does not mean that everyone agrees to play by the ‘guidelines’ … there is no law mandating that a child be named after their parent, or keep that name when of age to choose different (16+).

Family relationships, fonetiks and the desire to sometimes just choose your own name — some modern GFolks continue to choose different.

Below are some families that adopted the Golden name (or Golding, Goulding, etc.) but once had difference surnames, or are linked to different surname lineages.


Got Info about a GFolk line that should be listed below?

Contact Bill Golden,


Elender Eli Golden, born c1729 in Georgia, is often listed as being born to John Golding. A closer examination of what we know about this family is that Elender may well have been born or raised within the John Gwaltney and Mary (Atkinson) family. Later Golden generations may have chosen to change the Gwaltney name to Golden within their family genealogies. The first names and dates within some Golden genealogies match exactly with the Gwaltney family genealogies — but the Gwaltney version has supporting document. It is believed that Elender Eli Golden may possibly be the father of Mark Golden, Sr., b 27 Jan 1762 in Lincoln, Georgia. Very unique to the Mark Golden bloodline is that their YDNA type is ‘G2a’, which is very rare in England and Ireland but is most commonly found in Wales; Wales being the home to the Gwaltney family which immigrated to Virginia several generations before Elender Eli Golden’s birth.

NOTE: I know of no YDNA test results existing for Gwaltney family members, but am in continuing contact with a Gwaltney family reunion organizer that has  promised to help with this (2018). Got info? — I do not pretend to understand what happened or why there is confusion in this line with Elender Eli. He could well be a full Golden, perhaps orphaned and adopted. We really do not know — but as these Goldens cannot show their origin then this remains a ‘theory of origin’ that is viable.


George Michael Fuller Golden (1868-1912) was born as George Michael Fuller in 1868 at Michigan to William and Marguerette Fuller. His occupation was as a vaudeville entertainer and he would later play a prominent role in forming a union to represent vaudeville performer interests. George would marry Ada Maxwell (b1875 London, England) and had four children: Olive Fuller Golden, Ruth Fuller Golden, Mignonne Fuller Golden, and a son George H. Golden. It is not known if George Jr lived past childhood. The sisters went on to all have careers in the film industry.


John Golden (Goulding) … b.1842-1845, d.1910 Beekmantown, Clinton, NY … parentage: ‘Ireland’, but no record of immigration or prior family history … would appear to descend from a family named Harwood which settled in the Carolinas some 200 years earlier … certainly these Golden shared a UK grandfather with the Harwoods since 1600. When did the Harwood acquire their surname? Could be that both they and the Gouldings had a different surname, or perhaps a clan name before 1600. // Both the Golden and Harwood line are 67 marker YDNA tested.


Jonathan Golden (1806-1884) was born into the Gulden / Gultin family of Adams County, Pennsylvania. This family originated in Bern, Switzerland. Jonathan and some of his siblings chose to use the Golden name, while others continued to use the Gulden name. It was a large family. His parents were John (Johannes) Gulden (1761 – 1843) and Elizabeth Weber (1764 – 1816) married by the Rev. John Waldschmidt who recorded their names as ‘Gultin’.


Looney Mayfield Becknell Golden was born May 1874 in Red River Co., Texas to Marshall Mayfield Becknell (1851–1933) and to Mary Ann Acuff (1850–1933), married in 1873 (30 Sep) at  Red River, Texas. Looney was born in 1874 and the Becknells divorced in 1875. Mary Ann Acuff Becknell would marry William Wylie D Golden (1857–1892) in 1877 (18 Dec) and Looney was given the Golden name and raised as a Golden. Looney’s children were all named and raised as Goldens. Looney married to  Willie Louise Gaston; together they had the following children: Lesley Golden, William Jefferson Golden, Albert Lee “Tom” Golden, Charles Malcomb Golden, Mary L Golden, Hurst Golden and Leo Golden. Looney died soon after the 1940 census in Fort Towson, Choctaw, Oklahoma.

NOTE: Looney’s patriarchal Becknell line tracks back to William Bicknell, born 20 Jan 1651 in Combeflorey, Somerset, England. The family name  changed from ‘Bicknell’ to ‘Becknell’ about 1750.


William Golden c1750 (VA) – 1809 SC appears to have once been Gouldman and Keeling — two different surname changes. (George) Leonard Keeling arrived in Virginia 1635; DNA indicates that he is probably brother or first cousin to the Thomas Keeling that came to Virginia in 1628 and settled in 1634/35 at Lynnhaven, Princess Anne, now Virginia Beach, Virginia.  The name change appears to have started with Thomas Gouldman, born in Virginia about 1640, believed to be son of (George) Leonard Keeling, who arrived in 1635.

NOTE: This is my own line. Bill Golden, — This Golden line has been YDNA tested and is a 67 marker match with Keelings. No Gouldmans are known to have taken YDNA tests. atDNA matches from eight different Golden family members separated by five lines that split in the late 1700s shows matches with Gouldmans from the Caroline and Essex County region, as well as both Keeling lines of 1628 and 1635.


William Gerald Golding, Sir, Lord of the Flies author. He comes from a line of Goldings … but his line was once Gouldney, aka Goldney … born William Gerald Golding 1911 at Newquay, Cornwall, England and left us in 1993 while living at Perranarworthal, Cornwall, England … the name change came in the early 1700s. Isaac ‘Golding’ Gouldney 1704–1776 and Frances Hobbs 1707–1778 were his grandparents when the name changed … with all of their children being named or adopting Golding as their surname.


Goldens that once were McGoldrick, McMullen or O’Brien. One group of well-tested (x5) Goldens indicate very close yDNA matches of Ireland or Scotland origin that have names other than Golden and very different. This group will test as R-M269, R-A5902, R-BY51523, R-FGC40940 depending upon the test they take.

+++++ Grandfather R-FGC40940: believed to be born about 1,500 years old, perhaps in Scotland.

+++++ Grandfather R-A5902: believed to be born about 1,400 years old, perhaps in Ireland.

+++++ Grandfather R-BY51523: No info available.

You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden,

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.

Notes to Self About Surname Changes