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Zenon
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:23 am      Post subject: Article: How Surnames Came Into Being in Poland
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Article: How Surnames Came Into Being in Poland

Comment, share your impressions or ask a question.


Last edited by Zenon on Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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dkupil



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Post Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:37 pm      Post subject: Re How Surnames Came into being in Poland
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In article How Surnames Came into being in Poland most information refers to First Rzeczpospolita (Republic of Both Nation) does the same info applies to areas that were not part of of the Commonwealth but were originally Polish lands but came under Germanic influence namely Silesia. My surname is Polish but my family consider themselves German.
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Zenon
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:09 am      Post subject:
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Welcome to the Forum dkupil,

You are right, at the beginning of forming Polish nation about 10th century Silesia was under the rule of Polish dynasty Piasts (Mieszko I, Boleslaw I Chrobry) but it didn't belong to the Republich of Both Nations). History of these region is very turbulent. You can read more about it on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silesia . At those times the national consciousness was not so developed as it is now. In time many Germans were settling in this Silesia area and lived here together in communities with Slavs speaking Polish and Czech.

What is important, Silesia region was under German speaking nations (Prussians, Austrians, Germans) long before the partition of Republic of Poland which began in 1772. It doesn't change fact that people living there were both Slavs (Polish, Czechs) and Germans.

Not so long ago I visited Opole and Wroclaw area. I met there a few people, mainly living at the country, speaking both German and Silesian dialect (understandable for Polish speaking). Their children usually speak Polish (when parents want to keep something in secret they talk German - isn't it a little familiar to you, emigrants' children and grandchildren Wink) . Some of them consider themselves not Poles, not Germans but Silesians. Others, when they are talking about history say: "Unser Kaiser Bismarck!" - "Our Emperor Bismarck!" (Otto von Bismarck was Chancellor of the Second Reich). And there are many others who always have always been talking about themselves Poles.

I am not surnames etymology expert (like late Prof. Kazimierz Rymut or Fred Hoffman) and I am not able to reply you outright to your question if the information from the article applies also to Silesia. However, what I can tell you is the fact that even now among these three groups there are people using surnames Slezewski or Lewandowski and say about themselves Germans, others, like Baer or Buhl say they are Poles, and even others with both German and Polish sounding surnames say with proud: We are Silesians!


Last edited by Zenon on Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:06 am; edited 1 time in total
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dkupil



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Post Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:03 am      Post subject: Re Polish Origins Surnames Silesia
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Thank You for quick reply to my question. I have Fred Hoffman book Polish Surnames and Origins and meanings Second Edition and I did get a response from Dr Rymut about my surmame, I just want another look to what I know and what was passed on to me as I grow up . I also read articles by Dr Tomasz Kamusella The Dynamics of tthe Policies of Ethnic Cleansing in Silesia in the Nineteeth and Twentieth Centuries Abstract which explains question well.
Again Thank You I do like your forum.
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Henryk
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:41 pm      Post subject: Re: Article: How Surnames Came Into Being in Poland
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This is a very interesting article. It includes information I hadn't seen in other articles on the topic.
There is one bit of information in the article which is incorrect.
Quote:
Peasants still did not have surnames until the partitions; until the turn of the 19th century they had only first names and sometimes nicknames.

I have reviewed the LDS records of my family parish, Sokolina, Kielce. The earliest records are: index of surnames, marriages, 1706. The index is comprised of surnames. As the parish is a rural one, the majority of the names are bound to be of peasants. In later indexes, all prior to 1772, the surnames of my paternal and maternal ancestors appear. My ancestors were peasants.
There is no doubt that peasants received surnames prior to the 19th century. They received them in the 17th century, or perhaps, earlier.
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Zenon
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:59 pm      Post subject:
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Welcome to the Forum Henryk!

Well... I have also encountered many times in my research surnames of peasants recorded in parish books before 19th century. I am not the author of this article neither surnames etymology expert, as I mentioned before.

I think that maybe in some parts of Poland the process of legalization existing surnames or nicknames described in the two consecutive sentences took place earlier than in the other territories...?

Quote:
The 19th century was the time of stabilization of surnames. Censuses took place and parish registers were reformed. Usually existing surnames or nicknames were legalized or new surnames were created for those who did not have one.


I would like to also quote professor Rymut who writes in his book Nazwiska Polakow (Surnames of Poles) published in 1991:

"(...)until the end of 19th century there wasn't any word which would have expressed in unambiguous way concept of hereditary naming of man. Today's meaning of the word surname was formed only in 20th century. Before that today's words (first) name, surname, nickname were intermixed. People didn't distinguish hereditary naming from occasional naming, or even from names given in babtism.(...)
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Henryk
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Post Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 1:31 pm      Post subject: Re: Origins of Surnames
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Thank you, Zenon, for your response. It is hard to argue with an expert like Rymut, but what he said does not match the reality of the 18th C and 19th birth, marriage and death records that I have reviewed. I have a established a number of family surname lines, which are consistent, moving with time.
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BobK
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:34 pm      Post subject:
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Zenon wrote:

Quote:
The 19th century was the time of stabilization of surnames. Censuses took place and parish registers were reformed. Usually existing surnames or nicknames were legalized or new surnames were created for those who did not have one.

I would like to also quote professor Rymut who writes in his book Nazwiska Polakow (Surnames of Poles) published in 1991:

"(...)until the end of 19th century there wasn't any word which would have expressed in unambiguous way concept of hereditary naming of man. Today's meaning of the word surname was formed only in 20th century. Before that today's words (first) name, surname, nickname were intermixed. People didn't distinguish hereditary naming from occasional naming, or even from names given in babtism.(...)


This topic is something I've been thinking about. My grandfather claimed the spelling of his surname was Krampetz, but his brother said he was wrong. Turned out my grandfather was wrong! It became clear when I obtained most of their birth records. My great grandfather and all children were named Krampitz. When I expanded my searches to include that original spelling, I found a town of Krampitz right next to Gdansk on the 1930 map.

I'm aware of many Germans settling throughout Poland during the 18th - 19th centuries, invited by Russia. Since my great grandfather and one or two others of his surname were farmers in the area they lived in, I wonder if: were they related but not identified as such in the records? Or did those other's ancestors take their name of the town as they moved through? Someone else mentioned another village of the same name in another place but I couldn't find it on a map to confirm it.

I'm inclined to believe that since all (so far) were farmers, they had no family name and took it from their town. Do the research books get into this?

Listing all recorded immigrating through Ellis Island shows fewer than 60 of both spellings. Nearly all were from "Russia", Polish Territory, in the late 19th & early 20th century. If they were "Germans" why didn't more come from Germany?

Bob K.
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wfhoffman



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Post Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:15 am      Post subject: Re: Article: How Surnames Came Into Being in Poland
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Henryk wrote:
This is a very interesting article. It includes information I hadn't seen in other articles on the topic.
There is one bit of information in the article which is incorrect.
Quote:
Peasants still did not have surnames until the partitions; until the turn of the 19th century they had only first names and sometimes nicknames.

I have reviewed the LDS records of my family parish, Sokolina, Kielce. The earliest records are: index of surnames, marriages, 1706. The index is comprised of surnames. As the parish is a rural one, the majority of the names are bound to be of peasants. In later indexes, all prior to 1772, the surnames of my paternal and maternal ancestors appear. My ancestors were peasants.
There is no doubt that peasants received surnames prior to the 19th century. They received them in the 17th century, or perhaps, earlier.


I noticed these comments by Henryk about peasant surnames that existed as early as the 17th and 18th centuries, and I have no doubt he is correct. I have, for instance, a copy of a book by Marek Górny, _Przezwiska i nazwiska chłopów pałuckich w XVII wieku_ (ISBN 83-7011-070-3, Wrocław 1990, No. 529 in the series _Prace naukowe AE: Akademii Ekonomicznej imienia Oskara Langego we Wrocławiu_) that documents surnames and by-names of peasants in the Pałuki region from 17th century records.

I believe that Prof. Rymut and others were speaking in very general terms when they said peasant surnames did not become well established and stable until the 19th century. My understanding is that this was the approximate time frame in which peasants all over Poland could be counted on to have surnames that were comparatively consistent in form. (Though many genealogical researchers can tell you tales of ancestors who appear in 19th and 20th century records as, say, Kowalski in one record, Kowalewicz in another, Kowalczyk in another, and so on. So even in recent centuries, the consistency of surname forms was hardly absolute.)

Research is proving that there definitely were areas of Poland where peasants bore surnames as early as the the 17th century, and if I understand correctly, Rymut did not dispute this. It just seems that established peasant surnames did not become a universal phenomenon in Poland until the 19th century.

Of course, as more and more research is done, we may have to revise that date. One thing about Prof. Rymut inspired me -- he was not a stubborn pedant who insisted that anyone who disagreed with him was an idiot. He was a true scientist; if you showed him strong research that proved him wrong, he would change his views, and do so graciously.

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Henryk
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Post Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:37 pm      Post subject:
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Thank you Fred for your comments.
From Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego I find two Pałuki. one a village and parish near Ciechanów, now Mazowieckie, and the Wielko-Polskie region northeast of Gniezno, now Kujawsko-Pomorskie. I presume the latter region applies. This region is far from where I gathered my data.
It is my understanding that the serf peasants were assigned surnames by the lord of the manor. These names would be recorded in the records of the manor. The names would also be used in the records of the Church. In both cases I would expect that the educated men controlling these records would be careful in the spellings. The peasants were mainly illiterate, and had no idea how their names were spelt. Few mis-spellings could thus originate from them. Of the Church records I researched probably over 98% were for illiterates. Curiously all that were for Jews were signed by them, in Yiddish.
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BobK
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:52 pm      Post subject:
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Henryk wrote:
The peasants were mainly illiterate, and had no idea how their names were spelt. Few mis-spellings could thus originate from them. Of the Church records I researched probably over 98% were for illiterates. Curiously all that were for Jews were signed by them, in Yiddish.


From mid 19th century, Russia imposed ever stricter rules about dropping all languages other than Russian. When a document says that someone was illterate, take that with a grain of salt. Were they illiterate in the required language? or in any, including their own.

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Henryk
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Post Posted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:01 pm      Post subject:
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BobK wrote:
From mid 19th century, Russia imposed ever stricter rules about dropping all languages other than Russian. When a document says that someone was illterate, take that with a grain of salt. Were they illiterate in the required language? or in any, including their own.Bobk

If peasants could not sign their names, when schooling was in Polish, until 1868, it would be even more unlikely when schooling was in Russian.
My mother told me a story of an event in about 1920. She went to the post office with two friends. They were all about 18. When asked to sign their names by the postmaster, they both could not, and placed an x. When my mother signed her name, the postmaster said it good to finally see a young person in the village that could sign their name.
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JacekRoszakKonin



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Post Posted: Fri May 07, 2010 9:31 am      Post subject:
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The whole problem with peasants surnames, is that even in records of the begining of 18 century you can find it. Let's think for a moment. Our definition of surname is totaly diffrent from that from 18 or 19 century. We call it surname and they did too - but this is a completely different thing. That is why you can read thet Polish peasants didn't have a REAL surname until 19 or 20 century. For example: My surname is Roszak - If there was a peasant named Roch - popular first name in Poland in 18 or 19 cen. - then his daughter could be called not with a surname, but as it was in russia, by the first name of her father. If Roch had a daughter Mary, then they could call her Mary Roszanka - ( ch became sz, with the -anka ending ). Then if Mary has a son that lived with her, they could call him Roszak as a son of a Roszanka. His brother that leave her mother to settle in different village would be called with his grandfathers surname. Thats how my surname was created.
You can see now what did surname mean to polish peasants.

Priests in Poland in 19 century liked to manipulate with surnames of peasents. I will explain it with my surname etymology. If there was a lot of people called Roszak in one village, the priest would change it a little bit in the day of birth of another Roszak. They would add a "sz" or "cz" in the middle for example. That's how surname Roszczak, Roczak, Rosiak, Rozak came to be. Also when priest translate from latin, they made mistakes all the time.

That's why I think that Rymut was right. For us, surname is something that sticks to you all the time. It is passed from father to son and that's it. Nobody changes is without our permission or knowlange.

ps: I would like to appologise for my english Wink
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Post Posted: Fri May 07, 2010 9:47 pm      Post subject:
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JacekRoszakKonin wrote:
ps: I would like to appologise for my english Wink


Your english is fine, no need to apologize.

Zenon has other places here in this forum where he discusses how married women and daughters carried
modified forms of their husband's or father's surname. We just had a discussion of this on:
http://polishorigins.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=536

I have also used the 'phonetic' (or "sounds like") search when looking through Ellis Island records and
it has always bothered me that they do NOT describe the "sounds like" in what language and dialect!! ..
I'm well aware of many different ways to pronounce words and names just within different areas of the U.S.

I am always quite puzzled over the abundance of names I get that don't sound anything like the one I'm
searching on. Does anyone know if there is a standard? (that could explain why no language or dialect is
described)..

Bob K.
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Henryk
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Post Posted: Thu May 13, 2010 12:42 pm      Post subject:
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JacekRoszakKonin wrote:
The whole problem with peasants surnames, is that even in records of the begining of 18 century you can find it. Let's think for a moment. Our definition of surname is totaly diffrent from that from 18 or 19 century. We call it surname and they did too - but this is a completely different thing. That is why you can read thet Polish peasants didn't have a REAL surname until 19 or 20 century. For example: My surname is Roszak - If there was a peasant named Roch - popular first name in Poland in 18 or 19 cen. - then his daughter could be called not with a surname, but as it was in russia, by the first name of her father. If Roch had a daughter Mary, then they could call her Mary Roszanka - ( ch became sz, with the -anka ending ). Then if Mary has a son that lived with her, they could call him Roszak as a son of a Roszanka. His brother that leave her mother to settle in different village would be called with his grandfathers surname. Thats how my surname was created.
You can see now what did surname mean to polish peasants.

Priests in Poland in 19 century liked to manipulate with surnames of peasents. I will explain it with my surname etymology. If there was a lot of people called Roszak in one village, the priest would change it a little bit in the day of birth of another Roszak. They would add a "sz" or "cz" in the middle for example. That's how surname Roszczak, Roczak, Rosiak, Rozak came to be. Also when priest translate from latin, they made mistakes all the time.

That's why I think that Rymut was right. For us, surname is something that sticks to you all the time. It is passed from father to son and that's it. Nobody changes is without our permission or knowlange.

ps: I would like to appologise for my english Wink


In what part of Poland did this happen? It did not happen in Kielce province, which I have researched.
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