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Thread: A New Etymology Hypothesis for the Wilkinson (and variants) Surname

  1. #61
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    @Spruithean: I spent some time today culling as many early recordations of variants of Wilkin that I could find in England (I also found at least one German). Wills and such, and other miscellany. The earliest I could find in England was from mid to late 1200s. Quite a few in 1300s to 1400s. What I found very interesting is that most are not spelled “-kin”. They are spelled “-kyn”. Now, some etymology sites say this can be a derivative of OE “cynna” or ON “kyn”. Those are not diminutives, it meant “kind” or “nature”, etc. I’ll get the links up tomorrow. I don’t address this in my book, but I wish I had. If the “-kyn” suffix is ON or OE, it is certainly not inconsistent with my thesis. Does it prove it? No, of course not. But if many or even most of the earliest annotations have that spelling, I think it’s something that warrants deeper scrutiny and not a presumption that they are low German diminutives in origin. More tomorrow. Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    This stuff is incredible, in the original sense of that word.

    It's amazing, but also laudable, that some of you are willing to address it in detail, kind of like engaging a homeless man about why he wears a tinfoil hat.
    I hope we can have beer someday. I like your cutting wit. I’m being completely serious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mc View Post
    Even if you were right about the name "Wilk" coming into use following the migration of the Wilzi into north western Europe (which I also doubt), you aren't addressing the main problem that Rich has raised a number of times now: Surnames solidified in the 15th century. There is no real chance that someone with the surname Wilkinson came by their name through ancient descent from the Wilzi.

    Let me give you a different example to clarify. You will often run into people with the name Emrys in Wales. Emrys is the Welsh form of Ambrosius and originally became popular because of the place Ambrosius Aurelianus (Emrys Wledig) had within old Welsh historiography. Many Welsh men had the given name Emrys. Eventually their children took their fathers' first names as surnames. Put starkly, no one with the name Emrys acquired it through descent from the original Ambrosius. There were a thousand years between Ambrosius the man and the adoption of Emrys as a surname.

    You see the parallel, I hope. Wilkinson has an established etymology. Even if you were right in saying that the name arose in some instances because it hearkened back to the Wilzi, the surname itself couldn't have any direct, hereditary relationship to that ancient people.
    I agree. I am not contending that persons bearing “wilk” root surnames are genetically descended from Polabian Slavs. I’m contending that the “wilk” root is a Slavonic artifact that carried forward in Frisian and Dane given names, likely log after anyone even remembered where they came from. See my prior comment about the “-kyn” aspect I found today. That again fits with an OE or ON origin, not Norman or ME.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rms2 View Post
    Right, and they all agreed with you that the surname Wilkinson derives from the Slavonic Wendish Wilczi, who migrated to the Netherlands, became Frisians, etc., etc.

    Come on. No one said anything about you making up Bede, Alfred, and so on. What silliness.

    But you did absolutely make up entirely out of whole cloth this completely novel, never-been-seen-before origin story for the surname Wilkinson.

    Margaryan's findings have nothing to do with the origin of the Wilkinson surname.

    For one thing, I've already told you that the Wilkinson line in my own pedigree is R1b-DF85. If yours is some kind of R1b-L20, that makes at least two different y-chromosome lines with the surname Wilkinson. I'll bet there are several others, as well. We'd know more if the admin of the Wilkinson DNA Project wasn't a privacy maniac.

    Who but someone with a fevered brain would look at Margaryan and think, "Oh, my goodness! The Wilkinsons must have been Vikings!"?
    I have stated several times now that I am not contending my L20 is some kind of signature Norse, Norse-Gael, or Wilkinson specific haplogroup. As a patronymic it’s practically a given that multiple Y lines would emerge. And this is clear even in the relatively small FTDNA Wilkinson project. Some are I lines, and several are R1b but from different branches, U106, U152, others. Just as one would expect as patronymics would have shifted practically every generation until they were locked in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcmax68 View Post
    @Spruithean: I spent some time today culling as many early recordations of variants of Wilkin that I could find in England (I also found at least one German). Wills and such, and other miscellany. The earliest I could find in England was from mid to late 1200s. Quite a few in 1300s to 1400s. What I found very interesting is that most are not spelled “-kin”. They are spelled “-kyn”. Now, some etymology sites say this can be a derivative of OE “cynna” or ON “kyn”. Those are not diminutives, it meant “kind” or “nature”, etc. I’ll get the links up tomorrow. I don’t address this in my book, but I wish I had. If the “-kyn” suffix is ON or OE, it is certainly not inconsistent with my thesis. Does it prove it? No, of course not. But if many or even most of the earliest annotations have that spelling, I think it’s something that warrants deeper scrutiny and not a presumption that they are low German diminutives in origin. More tomorrow. Cheers.
    Keep in mind there was no standardized spelling in Middle English (1150-1500 A.D.).

    I recommend these links just to trace the etymologies of these related suffices and their reconstructed proto-Germanic forebear.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ken#Dutch
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-chen#German
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-kin#Etymology_2

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcmax68 View Post
    @Spruithean: I spent some time today culling as many early recordations of variants of Wilkin that I could find in England (I also found at least one German). Wills and such, and other miscellany. The earliest I could find in England was from mid to late 1200s. Quite a few in 1300s to 1400s. What I found very interesting is that most are not spelled “-kin”. They are spelled “-kyn”. Now, some etymology sites say this can be a derivative of OE “cynna” or ON “kyn”. Those are not diminutives, it meant “kind” or “nature”, etc. I’ll get the links up tomorrow. I don’t address this in my book, but I wish I had. If the “-kyn” suffix is ON or OE, it is certainly not inconsistent with my thesis. Does it prove it? No, of course not. But if many or even most of the earliest annotations have that spelling, I think it’s something that warrants deeper scrutiny and not a presumption that they are low German diminutives in origin. More tomorrow. Cheers.
    There is of course also the (by all accounts pretty lousy) King of Wessex named Cynewulf (d. 786). Is it a tremendous stretch to suppose a variants may have existed with those syllables transposed to Wulfcyne? Or if the Wilzi truly did colonize Wiltshire, a Wilkcyne? Again, Wiltshire, according to Shore supposedly named after the Wilzi who colonized it from Frisia is in Wessex. Proof? No. Plausible? I would submit at least possible if Shore is correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcmax68 View Post
    There is of course also the (by all accounts pretty lousy) King of Wessex named Cynewulf (d. 786). Is it a tremendous stretch to suppose a variants may have existed with those syllables transposed to Wulfcyne? Or if the Wilzi truly did colonize Wiltshire, a Wilkcyne? Again, Wiltshire, according to Shore supposedly named after the Wilzi who colonized it from Frisia is in Wessex. Proof? No. Plausible? I would submit at least possible if Shore is correct.

    I think it's a bit of a stretch to hinge this on a transposition error of an Old English personal name. Wiltshire (Wiltunscir) allegedly gets it's name from the town Wilton, which apparently gets its name from the river Wylye.

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    I think Spruithean has mentioned the use of the suffix -kin as a diminutive.

    . . . The noun “kin” has conveyed the same general notion—roughly, a group of connected people—for about 1,200 years. But the suffix “-kin” is a diminutive that came into English some 400 years later.

    . . . As for the other “-kin,” which conveys the notion of smallness, we haven’t found any etymological explanations for it.

    But it does correspond to diminutive suffixes in the historical as well as modern Dutch and German languages: –kijn, –ken, kîn, chîn, and chen. Oxford mentions the modern German nouns kindchen (little child) and häuschen (little house).

    This “-kin” didn’t come into English right away. As the OED remarks, “No trace of the suffix is found in Old English.”

    Instead, it began cropping up in the mid-13th century in men’s nicknames, which the OED says “were either adoptions or imitations of diminutive forms current in Flanders and Holland.”

    Thus first names like “Jankin” (an affectionate diminutive of John), “Watkin” (a pet name for Walter), and “Wilkin” (a familiar form of Will or William) began appearing in Middle English in the 13th and 14th centuries.

    Other such pet names, spelled a variety of ways, included “Perkin” (a diminutive of Per or Peter), “Filkin” (for Philip), “Simkin” (for Simon), “Timkin” (for Timothy), “Dawkin” (for David), and “Hawkin” (perhaps a diminutive of Hugh or Henry).

    As first names for men, these “seem to have mostly gone out of fashion shortly after 1400,” the OED says. But most of them “survived as surnames, usually with the addition of -s or -son, as Jenkins, Watkins, Wilkinson, Dickens, Dickinson, etc.”
    Grammarphobia
    Last edited by rms2; 10-28-2020 at 05:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcmax68 View Post
    You keep attributing my claim to a "Wil" root. My contention is the root is "Wilk". This is supported in the 4x "Wilk" root proper place names in the Domesday book. There clearly was a pre-Norman use of this root in England.
    I missed that response of yours yesterday.

    "Wilk" is even better, because you can't get that out of Wilczi. The Slavic diphthong cz does not make a hard k sound. It's not Wilk-tzee, as you apparently believe. It sounds closer to Wiltsee (Viltsee).

    Anyway, I think it's pretty obvious by now that Wilkinson was derived from the diminutive for William, Wil + kin, or "Wilkin", and the patronymic suffix -son.

    Seems to me that is beyond reasonable dispute, but there's that qualifier: reasonable.
    Last edited by rms2; 10-28-2020 at 06:24 PM.

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    Sorry for delay, single dad week with three kids. Still compiling the “Wilkyn” records. Earliest are from Worcestershire around 1280 AD (subsidy rolls). Will hopefully get that up tomorrow. But wanted to post this roll up on Slavic influence in Anglo-Saxon colonization of Briton period:

    https://www.wilcuma.org.uk/who-are-t...onic-settlers/

    During the time of the Anglo-Saxon period of the Slavs in the North of Europe extended as far westward as the Elbe and to places beyond it. On the east bank of that river were the Polabian Wends, and these were apparently a branch of the Wilte or Wiltzi. This name Wiltzi has been derived from the old Slavic word for wolf, wilk, plural wiltzi, and was given to this great tribe from their ferocious courage. The popular name wolfmark still survives in North-east Germany, near the eastern limit of their territory. These people called themselves Welatibi, a name derived from welot, a giant, and were also known as the Haefeldan, or men of Havel, from being seated near the river Havel, as mentioned by King Alfred. The inhabitants of the coast near Stralsund, who were called Rugini or Rugians, and who are mentioned by Bede as one of the nations from whom the Anglo-Saxons of his time were known to have derived their origin,(15) must have been included within the general name of the Wends. As these Rugians must have been Wends, the statement of Bede is direct evidence that some of the people of England in his time were known to be of Wendish descent. This is supported by evidence of other kinds, such as the mention of settlements of people with Wendish or Vandal names in the Anglo-Saxon charters, the numerous names of places in England which have come down from a remote antiquity, and the identity of the oldest forms of such names with that of the people of this race. We read also that Edward, son of Edmund `Ironside`, fled after his father`s death `ad regnum Rugorum, quod melius vocamus Russiam.`(16)
    It is supported by philological evidence. As a distinguished American philologist says : `The Anglo-Saxon was such a language as might be supposed would result from a fusion of Old Saxon with smaller proportions of High German, Scandinavian, and even Celtic and Slavonic elements.`(17) The migration of the Wilte from the shores of the Baltic and the foundation of a colony in the country around Utrecht is certainly historical. Bede mentions it in connection with the mission of Wilbrord. He says : `The Venerable Wilbrord went from Frisia to Rome, where the Pope gave him the name of Clement, and sent him back to his bishopric. Pepin gave him a place for his Episcopal see in his famous castle, which , in the ancient language of those people, is called Wiltaburg – i.e., the town of the Wilti – but in the French tongue Utrecht.`(18) Venantius also tells us that the Wileti or Wiltzi, between A. D. 560-600, settled near the city of Utrecht, which from them was called Wiltaburg, and the surrounding country Wiltenia.(19) Such a migration would perhaps be made by land, and some of these Wilte may have gone further. The name of the first settlers in Wiltshire has been derived by some authors from a migration of Wilte from near Wiltaburg,(20) and the name Wilsaetan appears to afford some corroboration. It is certain that Wiltshire was becoming settled in the latter half of the sixth century, and such a migration may either have come direct from the Baltic or the Elbe, or from the Wilte settlement in Holland.
    It must not be supposed that there is evidence of the settlement of all Wiltshire by people descended from the Wilte, but it is not improbable that some early settlers of this time were the original Wilsaetas. The Anglo-Saxon charters supply evidence of the existence in various parts of England, as will be referred to in later pages, of people called Willa or Wilte. There were tribes in England named East Willa and West Willa ;(21) and such Anglo-Saxon names as Willanesham ;(22) Wilburgeham, Cambridgeshire ;(23) Wilburge gemaero and Wilburge mere in Wiltshire ;(24) Wilburgewel in Kent ;(25) Willa-byg in Lincolnshire ;(26) Wilmanford,(27) Wilmanleahtun,(28) appear to have been derived from personal names connected with these people. There has not been discovered that any other Continental tribe of the Anglo-Saxon period were so named, except this Wendish tribe, called by king Alfred the men of Havel, a name that apparently survived in the Domesday name Hauelingas in Essex. The Wilte or Willa tribal name survived in England as a personal name, like the national name Scot, and is found in the thirteenth-century Hundred Rolls and other early records. In these rolls a large number of persons so named are mentioned – Wiltes occur in seventeen entries, Wilt in eight, and Wilte in four entries. Willeman as a personal name is also mentioned.(29) The old Scando-Gothic personal name Wilia is well known.(30)

    15Beda, `Eccles. Hist.,` edited by J. A. Giles, book v., chap. ix.
    16Cottonian Liber Custumarum, Liber Albus, vol. ii., pt. Ii., 645.
    17Marsh, G. P., `Lectures on the English Language,` Second Series, p. 55.
    18Beda, loc. Cit., book v., chap. ii.
    19Hampson, R. T., `The Geography of king Alfred,` p. 41.
    20Schafarik, `Slavonic Antiquities,` quoted by Morfil, W. R., `Slavonic Literature,` 3-35.
    21Cart. Sax., edited by Birch, i 416.
    22Codex Dipl., No. 931.
    23Ibid., No 967.
    24Ibid., nos. 641 and 387.
    25Ibid., No. 282.
    26Ibid., No. 935.
    27Ibid., No. 1205.
    28Ibid.
    29Hund. Rolls, vol. ii., Index.
    30Stephens, G., `Old Northern Runic Monuments,` iii. 122.

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