Schooling during the late 1950s and early 1960s produced a belief that words were to be spelled correctly. You were given a list of "spelling words"...told to memorize them...and then, you were given a test to rewrite them exactly as they were given to you. This lead me to believe that there was only one way to spell a word.
This principle would of course apply to surnames. A family would spell their surname only one way. A different spelling of this same surname would mean a different unrelated family. Thus, early in my tree climbing adventure, there was this understanding that surnames [at least of the same family group] would always be spelled the same way....not!
Surnames of the same family can be spelled all sorts of ways.
For example, the surname "Taliaferro". This family was connected to my Jones family very early in the days of colonial Virginia. During the records of 1623 - 1666, no such spelling occurred. It was not until 1666 - 1695 did this name first appear among the pages. For years this made me believe that the Taliaferro family arrived Virginia after 1666...not!
Sounds to symbols changed my understanding. A surname was first pronounced, then written down by the one recording the record. For "Taliaferro" it was first spelled "Tolliver" (1661), then "Talifer", then "Taliafro", then "Tallifro", then "Talifro", the "Tallifer", then "Taliafero", before it was ever spelled "Taliaferro".
Understanding this aspect of genealogy helped me get around a few brick walls. Sounds become symbols (words) written down to help locate some of those elusive family members. You may find your surname is spelled (recorded) all sorts of ways.