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Thread: Origin of your surname

  1. #1
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    Origin of your surname

    What language does your surname come from and what is its significance?

    Mine is Yiddish in origin (an occupational surname), however it has a false cognate in Latin and is a popular name among Spanish speakers so many people mistake me for "Latino" and I even get mail in Spanish. For privacy reasons I'm not going to disclose it on here (since you already know my first name). But if you do enough digging, maybe you'll be able to figure it out

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  3. #2
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    Hello Erik,

    My surname in it's original form would have been Mac Giola/Gille Brighde, and it's Gaelic in origins. Although, some have contended that a portion of it may have come from an Old Norse word.

    It means; Son of a servant of St. Brigid (of Kildare).

    At the risk of boring you to tears, I will share with you some of what I've learned about it of late. Parts of it may be a little redundant as I'm just copying some of the sources I've collected.

    -----------------------

    It has been claimed by Patrick Dineen that Gaelic names consisting of the word giolla ‘servant’ and the name of a saint or the title of an ecclesiastical dignitary became popu- lar among assimilated Danes in Ireland.80 Names consisting of Gilla- plus a saint’s name have a similar meaning to another group of Celtic names, those consisting of the element Máel- ‘bald, tonsured’ plus a saint’s name, e. g. Máelmuire ‘servant of Mary’. These latter names were quite common in Ireland as early as the seventh century, while the names in Gilla- did not become common until after the year 900, perhaps as a result of a Danish fashion.81 One of the earliest recorded examples is Gilla Pátraic, son of Ímar (i. e. Ívar), who died in 982, and Brian Ó Cuív has seen the choice of this name for Ívar’s son as evidence that the Viking settlers in Ireland owed devotion to St Patrick.

    It is interesting to note that the Vikings from the Gaelic-speaking areas carried the custom of forming personal names in Gilla with them to their other colonies in the British Isles. It is not surprising to find such names in Scandinavian place-names in Dumfriesshire, where the Gaelic element was strong. Here we find Gill’Eoin in Gillenbie, Gillae, a short form, in Gillesbie, and Gilmartin in Gillemartin beck.82 The scandinavianised form Gilli of the short form occurs in Gilsland in Cumberland, Gilston in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, and Gilby in Lincolnshire, while *Gilliman, a by-name meaning ‘servant of Gilli’ is the specific of Gilmonby in Yorkshire.83


    80 P. S. Dineen, An Irish-English Dictionary (Dublin, 1927), s.v. giolla.

    81 Cf. B. Ó Cuív, ‘Borrowed elements in the corpus of Irish personal names from medieval times’, Nomina 3 (1979), pp. 40–51, at pp. 46–47.

    82 G. Fellows-Jensen, Scandinavian Settlement Names in the North-West (SSNNW), Navnestudier 25 (Copenhagen, 1985), pp. 31, 126.

    83 Fellows-Jensen, SSNNW, p. 126; eadem, ‘Scandinavians in Southern Scotland?’, p. 46; eadem, SSNY, p. 7.

    From: The Vikings and Their Victims: The Verdict of The Names (pg. 29) - Gillian Fellows-Jensen.


    ---------------


    Note: The Imar (or Ivar) mentioned above was a famous Viking who ruled in Dublin, Ireland. Interestingly enough, he and his brothers often allied themselves with the Northern Uí Néill, an Irish Clan that ruled in the area of County Donegal, which happens to be where the name Mac Giolla Brighde is supposed to have originated. We also know that it was common for them to seal their alliances by intermarrying. For example, Ivar's brother Amlaib was married to the daughter of the Uí Néill's king. And that in later years, alliances between the Northern Uí Néill and the Vikings of Dublin became a regular occurrence.


    ----------------


    The Gil- names have had a similar origin. Many centuries ago there lived persons who answered the name, Gilblank. In some of these names, Gil, Irish giolla, older form gilla, meant 'servant,' as Giolla-brighde, pron. gilla-breeda, servant of St. Brigid. And now we have the surname, Mac-Giolla-Bhrighde, descendant of the servant of St. Brigid—in English Gilbride, Kilbride. In others of the Gil- names the Gil- prefix must be translated by 'person, fellow,' as Mac-Giolla-bháin, descendant of the white (haired) person, now MacIlvaine.

    The Mul- names originated much earlier than those in Gil. In fact, we find no record of Gil- names until after the Danish invasion; and some maintain that the word gilla is of Danish origin.

    From The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume III, Part I - Eugene O'Growney, 1898.


    -----------------


    Gilla, Prefix, said to be borrowed from Scandinavians. Index, pg. 185. From: Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language, George Petrie.



    Giolla is probably derived from the Norse; gisl, a pledge or hostage. It only became common during the Danish period when it was largely used by the Northman, on their conversion to Christianity, to form Christian names. In this connection it signifies servant or devotee. At other times it has to be translated youth, boy, lad, etc ...

    - from: Irish Names and Surnames, by Patrick Woulf (from a footnote on Pages 8 & 9)


    -------------------


    7) Gaelic Saints. St. Bridget (Brigid) is found in a West Cumberland group of sites—Beckermet, Bridekirk, Brig- ham, Kirkbride and Moresby, of which the first three have tenth century monuments, but none appears to be earlier than that period. The inference is that the dedication was brought here by Christian Norse from over the Irish Sea

    Patron Saints of the Diocese of Carlisle. By T. H. B. GRAHAM, M.A. and W. G. COLLINGWOOD, M.A., F.S.A.



    http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/...vol25_0003.pdf

    --------------------------


    The adoption of overtly Christian names among the viking elite in Ireland may be traced to the tenth century. These names have ‘Mael’ or ‘Gille’ as the first element, meaning ‘servant’ or ‘devotee’, and the second element is usually a saint’s name in the genitive case. Examples from Irish chronicles include: Gille Pátraic (d. 983), the son of Gille Muire (d. 1013), Gille Ciaráin (d. 1014), and Mael Muire (d. 1021). Apart from expressions of devotion to Mary or Christ, the names refer to Gaelic saints. These names therefore suggest the adoption of cults of Irish saints by the royal [Viking] dynasty of Dublin-in the early to mid tenth century.


    Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

    Clare Downham


    http://www.academia.edu/2020479/Reli..._of_Conversion


    -------------------------


    Clare Downham also implies that there's a link between the Vikings and a devotion to St. Brigid:

    The development of a cult of Brigit at Dyserth (Wales) may point to links with viking-colonies in Ireland.

    Viking kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of Ivarr to A.D. 1014 (Pg 209)
    Last edited by JMcB; 12-17-2016 at 12:32 AM.

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  5. #3
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    My surname was originally a common Swiss German surname, but was Anglicized to match a rare English surname. Coincidentally, both the Swiss German and English versions are diminutive patronymics.

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  7. #4
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    Mine is Greek but any Greek speaking Christian in what is now Greece could have had it if he had an ancestor who was a priest. It is fairly common and not all the people who have it have common ancestry.

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  9. #5
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    My surname does not have an Arabic etymology but seems to originate from the root "asmed" that means "cold" in the Berber language.
    My closest oracles:
    1 CEU + Morocco_Jews + Swedish + Sahara_OCC @ 1.618438 DODECAD V3
    1 BedouinA + German_North + Scottish_West + Tunisian @ 1.355784 puntDNAL K12 Modern
    1 Algerian + BedouinA + British + Norwegian_West @ 2.072077 MDLP K23b

    A thread where I explain how the Tunisian sample used by various gedmatch calcs is not representative of Tunisians:
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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kikkk View Post
    My surname does not have an Arabic etymology but seems to originate from the root "asmed" that means "cold" in the Berber language.
    If your surname is Berber, what is your specific R1b subclade then?
    “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
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    “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
    ― Socrates

    “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”
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    I honestly don't know.
    It appears to be a Latinized patronymic form of the German Wilhelm, or maybe originally Vilhjelm, since all the oracle calculators seem to think Dad's ancient roots lie in Scandinavia somewhere?
    Since I don't know the family's origin before about 1700 (other than what the Y-DNA can tell), it's hard to tell which of the untold number of "William/Wilhelm/Vilhjelms" it refers to.
    R1b>M269>L23>L51>L11>P312>DF19>DF88>FGC11833 >S4281>S4268>Z17112 (S17075-)

    Y-cousin: 6DRIF-23 (DF19>>Z17112+, S17075+)

    Ancestors: Francis Cooke (M223/I2a2a) b1583; Hester Mahieu (Cooke) (J1c2 mtDNA) b.1584; Richard Warren (E-M35) b1578; Elizabeth Walker (Warren) (H1j mtDNA) b1583;
    John Mead (I2a1/P37.2) b1634; Rev. Joseph Hull (I1, L1301+ L1302-) b1595; Benjamin Harrington (M223/I2a2a-Y5729) b1618; Joshua Griffith (L21>DF13) b1593;
    John Wing (U106) b1584; Hermann Wilhelm (DF19) b1635

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    It's Anglo-Saxon for someone who smites things, I've read one theory that the name derives from soldiers/guards who had to repair their own weapons, meaning that the surname reflects both definitions of the word smite. However, whilst this sounds plausible, I've only seen it on one website.

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  17. #9
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    Mine is pretty straight forwards, Stevenson is an English language patronymic surname meaning "son of Steven". Its first historical record is from pre-10th-century England. Most Stevenson's in the UK today are to be found in Nottinghamshire, where I am from.

    Cheers, Ade.
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  19. #10
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    My direct ancestral surnames include:

    Aimes, Annison, Barber, Barker, Baxter, Beckett, Bennett, Blaxhall, Bligh, Bond, Bowes, Bradfield, Briggs, Britiff, Briting, Brooker, Brooks, Brown, Brucker, Coleman, Cossey, Creess, Crutchfield, Curtis, Dawes, Daynes, Dennis, Dingle, Dove, Durran, Edney, Edwards, Ellis, Frances, Freeman, Gaul, Ginby, Goffen, Goffin, Goodram, Gorll, Gregory, Gynby, Hagon, Hardiment, Harding, Hardyman, Harrington, Harris, Harrison, Hedges, Hewitt, Hill, Jacobs, Key, Larke, Lawn, Ling, Marsh, Maye, Merrison, Mitchells, Moll, Morrison, Nicholes, Nicholls, Nichols, Norton, Osborne, Page, Peach, Porter, Quantrill, Ransby, Read, Riches, Rippon, Rix, Rose, Rowland, Sales, Saunderson, Seymore, Shawers, Shepherd, Shilling, Smith, Snelling, Sniss, Springall, Symonds, Tammas, Tammas-Tovell, Thacker, Tibnum, Tovel, Tovell, Waine, Waters, Wick, Wymer, and Yallop.

    They were all in SE England over the past 350 years, the majority in Norfolk. My personal surname? South-East English, probably Kent / Sussex / Surrey. One who lives by the Brook, or from the village of Brook. Alternatively an occupation - a broker. Some of my surnames look rather Anglo-Danish - Daynes, Hagon, Thacker, Tovell, and Gynby. Most though are no doubt though later medieval in origin. My ancestors over the past 350 years were predominantly East Anglian agricultural labourers and their families, most likely descended mainly from the local medieval English peasantry. Some show a medieval French origin. There are place names, occupation names, nicknames.

    My mother's paternal ancestors had a tradition of taking nick names. Her father was Krewjer (his real name was Ernest William), his father was Gerald (his real name was Alfred Henry), and his father's name was Fiddler (Samuel William). Photo of Fiddler Curtis below:



    Born Samuel William Curtis in 1852 in the East Norfolk village of Hassingham. One of my great great grandparents.
    yDNA: L1b2c L-SK1414 (Oxon/Berks at Generation 9)
    mtDNA: H6a1a8 (Norfolk at Generation 9)
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