I've been researching my family history for years and have been stuck on the person I most wanted to trace: my Great-Grandfather.
"Sandy" Chapman was my Dad's, Dad's, Dad and I knew he lived in Croydon and I knew he was in the First World War. From his army records I found he was actually called Arthur Charles Chapman... or so I thought.
I was always confused as to why I couldn't find his birth certificate or any record of his birth. Well, after some friendly online help by a stranger on Ancestry.co.uk, I have found him and it's one of those strange family secrets.
The records had showed that he had been born in 1888 (but no location). But it seems he lied about his age to join the army and he was actually born in 1890.
So I now know that his mother was Elizabeth Chapman (unmarried) who was living in a flat in Croydon. In another flat in the same house lived Arthur Burton and together they had a baby: my Great-Grandfather. They didn't get married until 1898, so his birth certificate shows him as Arthur Charles Burton Chapman. In the 1901 and 1911 census, my Great-Grandfather is shown as Arthur Charles Burton which is the main reason I could never find him. I assume that he always knew his "real" surname was Chapman and when he got married and had to produce a birth certificate he reverted to his official birth name again.
I know this is probably dull for you, but it opens up lots more research and potential stories for me.
All this does mean of course that if the Great-Great-Grandparents had bothered to marry before they had children, I would be called Stephen Burton!