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Thread: Origin of your surname

  1. #151
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    Funny story, I used to know someone who's surname was "German". I don't just mean the origins were from Germany, I mean her surname was the actual word "German" - so her name (first name changed) was "Jane German". She was an elderly lady and when she'd go to restaurants and they'd take her name for the waiting list, they'd ask "What's your name?" and of course she'd respond, "German." Well, being elderly, the host would suddenly think she was senile and that she was saying the origins of her surname were German. They'd turn on their patronizing voice and say, "No, no, ma'am, I mean your actual name, not where it's from?" And in her clearest, most competent voice, she'd respond, "I know exactly what my name is, thank you very much, it's Jane German."

    Anyway, my maiden name is indeed German in origin, lol, as is my mother's maiden name. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Italian, and my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Norwegian. So it's kind of weird that when you look at my tree going back as far as I can trace, there's actually more British branches than any others.

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  3. #152
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    English as far as I know. My paternal line goes back to Gloucestershire.
    3/4 European, 1/4 Mauritian Creole. Genealogy enthusiast and Wow nerd.

  4. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobinBMc View Post
    Funny story, I used to know someone who's surname was "German". I don't just mean the origins were from Germany, I mean her surname was the actual word "German" - so her name (first name changed) was "Jane German". She was an elderly lady and when she'd go to restaurants and they'd take her name for the waiting list, they'd ask "What's your name?" and of course she'd respond, "German." Well, being elderly, the host would suddenly think she was senile and that she was saying the origins of her surname were German. They'd turn on their patronizing voice and say, "No, no, ma'am, I mean your actual name, not where it's from?" And in her clearest, most competent voice, she'd respond, "I know exactly what my name is, thank you very much, it's Jane German."

    Anyway, my maiden name is indeed German in origin, lol, as is my mother's maiden name. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Italian, and my maternal grandmother's maiden name was Norwegian. So it's kind of weird that when you look at my tree going back as far as I can trace, there's actually more British branches than any others.
    Well, notwithstanding the jokes about the name "English" in "Johnny English", it is an actual surname. So is French. So is Dutch. So is Greek (believe it or not). The truly funny part is that these are likely all English names. Or at least, they're names that were probably first acquired in an English-speaking setting.

    But the odd part is that the surname "German" may not have anything to do with Germany. In fact, it may have originated in England or Ireland, and its roots are actually Norman French.

    EDIT: This is not to say that it never is applied to anyone with origins in Germany, but during the British colonial period in America, the British would not have spoken of "Germans". They'd have called them "Dutch", which only later came to be restricted to people from Netherlands.

    After the colonial period, there was less of a tendency to shift names to something that was a better "fit" in the new country. The name was more typically kept as given in the entry document, unless it was changed by the owner of the name. "Lazy bureaucrats" were responsible for far fewer name changes than many people think. More often, name changes were made by the holders of the name.

    An example is my surname "Bookhammer". It traces back to Johan Buchhammer, who arrived in America from the German Palatine region in 1749. Or more accurately, it traces to Johan's sons. However, the surname in its original form "Buchhammer" can be found in the U.S. today, though for the most part it is traceable to people who did not arrive in the U.S. until the mid-19th century or later.
    Last edited by geebee; 03-14-2018 at 05:24 AM.
    Besides British-German-Catalan, ancestry includes smaller amounts of French, Irish, Swiss, Choctaw & possibly Catawba. Avatar picture is: my father, his father, & his father's father; baby is my eldest brother.

    GB

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  6. #154
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    Anglo translation, originally Native American surname.
    Last edited by Rolling; 03-15-2018 at 11:48 PM. Reason: removed tribe, privacy.

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  8. #155
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    Bosnian (apparently originated in Montenegro).

    Other surnames (paternal/maternal) are Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, English.

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  10. #156
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewsloth View Post
    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.
    Since writing the above 18 months ago, I've learned a bit more family history.

    While the written surname changed twice in about 100 years, it seems to have originally been just plain "Wilhelm." At least that's what it was recorded as in the early 1600's.

    No idea on specific origins, other than somewhere with Germanic ties. I've seen circumstantial evidence of unknown reliability hinting to either Swiss/Bavarian, Thuringian or Frankish. My MDKA was from what is now Hesse.
    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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  12. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by geebee View Post
    Well, notwithstanding the jokes about the name "English" in "Johnny English", it is an actual surname. So is French. So is Dutch. So is Greek (believe it or not). The truly funny part is that these are likely all English names. Or at least, they're names that were probably first acquired in an English-speaking setting.

    But the odd part is that the surname "German" may not have anything to do with Germany. In fact, it may have originated in England or Ireland, and its roots are actually Norman French.

    EDIT: This is not to say that it never is applied to anyone with origins in Germany, but during the British colonial period in America, the British would not have spoken of "Germans". They'd have called them "Dutch", which only later came to be restricted to people from Netherlands.

    After the colonial period, there was less of a tendency to shift names to something that was a better "fit" in the new country. The name was more typically kept as given in the entry document, unless it was changed by the owner of the name. "Lazy bureaucrats" were responsible for far fewer name changes than many people think. More often, name changes were made by the holders of the name.

    An example is my surname "Bookhammer". It traces back to Johan Buchhammer, who arrived in America from the German Palatine region in 1749. Or more accurately, it traces to Johan's sons. However, the surname in its original form "Buchhammer" can be found in the U.S. today, though for the most part it is traceable to people who did not arrive in the U.S. until the mid-19th century or later.
    Common nationality-based surname is, of course, Walsh, which means Welsh and is most common in Ireland (and also common in the US, of course).

    I have an ancestor from France whose surname was Langlais. Don't know if that had some English connection way back.

    An English German may have started as a Germain, which I think is a more common name.

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  14. #158
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    My married name is of German origin. It was originally Theobald, then changed when they came to the US.
    My maiden name is adopted. The adopted name is of Scottish origin.

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  16. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    Common nationality-based surname is, of course, Walsh, which means Welsh and is most common in Ireland (and also common in the US, of course).

    I have an ancestor from France whose surname was Langlais. Don't know if that had some English connection way back.

    An English German may have started as a Germain, which I think is a more common name.
    My mother-in-law's maiden name was Welsh, and it was indeed brought to this country by an ancestor from Ireland -- perhaps two or three generations before her father.

    According to my MIL, part of the family used a "ch" ending instead of "sh", and she claimed that it depended on whether they'd converted to Protestantism or remained Catholic. I haven't the foggiest idea whether there's any truth to that; like some members of my father's family -- his father in particular -- some members of my MIL's family were known to like a "good story" more than they liked strict adherence to "facts".

    This was definitely true of my MIL herself, though my wife and I never knew quite how true this was until after she'd passed on.
    Besides British-German-Catalan, ancestry includes smaller amounts of French, Irish, Swiss, Choctaw & possibly Catawba. Avatar picture is: my father, his father, & his father's father; baby is my eldest brother.

    GB

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  18. #160
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    Quote Originally Posted by geebee View Post
    My mother-in-law's maiden name was Welsh, and it was indeed brought to this country by an ancestor from Ireland -- perhaps two or three generations before her father.

    According to my MIL, part of the family used a "ch" ending instead of "sh", and she claimed that it depended on whether they'd converted to Protestantism or remained Catholic. I haven't the foggiest idea whether there's any truth to that; like some members of my father's family -- his father in particular -- some members of my MIL's family were known to like a "good story" more than they liked strict adherence to "facts".

    This was definitely true of my MIL herself, though my wife and I never knew quite how true this was until after she'd passed on.
    I have no idea about any of that, but am curious if the ch ending was supposed to be the Protestant one.

    All the Walshes I know personally (which means nothing, I know, totally anecdotal) are of Irish descent and Catholic, I don't know any Welshes (although I know of Irving, who is Scottish), but I do know of the Welch family of grape juice fame who were also famously Methodist. Welch's grape juice was founded in 1869 by Thomas Bramwell Welch (who was an American of English ancestry -- could be that was more commonly the English form of the name?) who pioneered pasteurization to prevent fermentation -- Methodists at the time were very much anti alcohol and in favor of the temperance movement and wanted a non fermented alternative for communion, which was the original purpose. Welch was also involved with the Underground Railroad.

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