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POLISH (-ski) and ENGLISH (of) = TOPONYMIC NICKS


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
13 Aug 2009 /  #1
Besides occupational and patronymic nicknames, in much of Europe nicknames based on one's place of residence have long been a tradition. These could refer back to a hamlet, village, town or (in the case of the gentry) estate. German often prefaced the locality with von, the Dutch with van and the French with de.

Both in English and Polish such names have evolved in a somewhat similar, albeit not identical manner.
In English the norm was to drop the "of" so Richard of York became simply Richard York.
In Polish the place-name got adjectivalised so Piotr z Radzikowa became Pitor Radzikowski.
The bottom line is that if your Polish surname ends in -owski or -ewski, you can be almost 99% sure that its source was some locality.
mafketis 35 | 11,183  
13 Aug 2009 /  #2
I think you mean 'family names' rather than nicknames.
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 12,063  
13 Aug 2009 /  #3
In Germany the "von" means rather nobility...not something to be dropped lightly...but also not common with the "ordinary" folks (today at least)...
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
13 Aug 2009 /  #4
In Germany the "von" means rather nobility

The "von" in a German family name is very rarely linked to a noble family. Most of the time it is an addition to the family name which points to a certain place. Like "Hans von Hamburg", meaning either "Hans lives in Hamburg" or "Hans was born in Hamburg" (but now lives in another place).
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 12,063  
13 Aug 2009 /  #5
The "von" in a German family name is very rarely linked to a noble family.

I don't think so...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von

When it is used as a part of a German family name, it is usually a nobiliary particle, like the French, Spanish and Portuguese "de"[1]. At certain times and places, it has been illegal for anyone who was not a member of the nobility to use von before their family name.

If it would be common far more people would have it in their names...like the Poles have their "-ski".

Somehow during the ages it became a sign of nobility.
Especially in Prussia...
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
13 Aug 2009 /  #6
I don't think so...

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. If you're talking about the present, the Wikipedia explanation is correct. But go back 400 or 500 years, and it's a different story. I've been into genealogy for a long time and I had some "von's" in my German lineage as well. Turned out they weren't nobility at all.

If it would be common far more people would have it in their names

Depends. Starting in the 15th century many people gave up the "von" in their surname, but others kept it. BTW: up until 1874 there were no official rules in Prussia on how to write your surname. That's why you have so many variations in family names in that era.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
13 Aug 2009 /  #7
The concept of surname is of rather recent (17th-9th-century) vintage. What we now refer to as surnames or family names usually started out as nicknames identifying people on the basis of their native locality, occupation, appearance, characteristics, who their father was, etc. Perhaps for genealogical purposes it might be advisable to speak of nicknames-turned-surnames. What do you think?
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 12,063  
13 Aug 2009 /  #8
Turned out they weren't nobility at all.

Yeah...I agree.

Also Prussia is a special case.....people who got awarded nobility took their estate/town/village into their names, hence the "von".
That became over time a pointer for nobility...
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
13 Aug 2009 /  #9
What do you think?

Might be a good idea, although in reality it's much more complicated. There are places in Germany for example, where the groom always took the "family name" of the bride. And the brides' name was derived from the name of the farm/cottage her parents lived on (so-called "Hofname"). Very difficult to track, because every generation you have different family names in the male line.
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 12,063  
13 Aug 2009 /  #10
Genealogy rocks! :) How far could you trace your ancestors back?

Here is a good explanation (only in german sadly): onomastik.com/artikel_nachnamen/von_in_namen.php
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
13 Aug 2009 /  #11
My dad's ancestors came from the Poznan/ Posen vicinity, and I was able to trace one line back to 1715. Too many wars, lost church books and drunken priest in that area. My mum's ancestors came from the Bremen/ Hannover area. The earliest proven ancestor I found was born in 1480.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
13 Aug 2009 /  #12
The German Onamastik article just goes to show that an almost identical process existed in German-speaking lands, where for instance the orignal von Lepizig (from or of Leipzig) might evolve into Leipziger (in Polish: z Lipska into Lipski - there are several Polish localties called Lipsk and Lipsko).
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
13 Aug 2009 /  #13
The German Onamastik article just goes to show that an almost identical process existed in German-speaking lands

You will find the same in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and to a certain extent Switzerland.

German often prefaced the locality with von, the Dutch with van and the French with de.

The "de" as part of the family name was also widespread in northern Germany, simply meaning "the"
Softsong 5 | 495  
14 Aug 2009 /  #14
The farthest I have gone back so far is my ethnic German line. Marćin Szultz (Schultz)born abt. 1761 and his wife, Anna Leide, born abt. 1768. They moved to Zajeziorek, Zale, Rypin, Poland and that is where they raised their family and died. I need to get the church records to see if where they came from is on the death certificates.

I suspect Holland or northern Germany near the Dutch border, as they were farmers in Poland under the Hollander system. Perhaps not directly from there, but they may have lived closer to Gdańsk in the river delta area like many of the Dutch who were called upon to drain the lowlands like back home. The Dutch and Germans gradually moved south along the Vistuala river. Szultz usualy is an occupational name related to the Hollander system and refers to the "mayor" or manager of the village who collects money for the leases to the Lord.
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
14 Aug 2009 /  #15
They moved to Zajeziorek, Zale, Rypin, Poland

These are the microfilms available at an LDS family history centre near you (in case your ancestors were catholic):

Poland, Bydgoszcz, Żałe (Rypin) - Church records

Kopie księg metrykalnych, 1808-1891 Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Żałe (Rypin)
Kopie księg metrykalnych, 1810-1841 Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Żałe (Rypin)
Księgi metrykalne, 1746-1891 Kościół rzymsko-katolicki. Parafja Żałe (Rypin)

It is almost impossible to trace people back to western Europe, by the way. There are no written sources other than the usual suspects. One web site you might find interesting though:

upstreamvistula.org/index.htm
Softsong 5 | 495  
14 Aug 2009 /  #16
Thanks, TheOther. You are very knowledgeable! :-)

They were Lutheran, but in the early days of the Hollander villages in Poland, the records were kept by the Catholic Church regardless of religious affliation. I have found my family in the Żałe Catholic records. And I have also written to the Polish Archives for information.

In general, I have heard it said that the church books show that the first settlers in this area mostly came from West Prussia, or the delta areas of the Vistula River. History in general tells that many Mennonite and Dutch settlers came to this area, and some moved on to Russia, and others stayed and were absorbed by Germans and became Lutheran.

The upstreamvistuala.org site is very interesting. I like that some of the old cemetaries are being found and preserved for history.

A friend who is very deep into genealogy went to Poland this past summer and he found that the church has many records locally, some that were not filmed. So, I am hoping eventually to see if it tells of where they came from before settling in Central Poland. Otherwise, I just have the general trends of where people settled from the west.

I am now also interested in extending my genealogy further back on my Polish side. It took a long time to find out where my Poles were from, but I found my great-grandparents marriage record in Gniezno. I'd like to find out their sibling's names and trace descendents to see if I have family there.

Thanks for the film numbers and for your interest!

P.S. I have re-established contact with family from that ethnic German line that now live in Schleswig-Holstein. And they have in their memory Dutch roots. And the Low German they spoke seemed to have some elements of Dutch and Low Prussian.
TheOther 6 | 3,692  
14 Aug 2009 /  #17
the records were kept by the Catholic Church regardless of religious affliation

Yes, because the protestant church was under enormous pressure until approx. 1767.

I have heard it said that the church books show that the first settlers in this area mostly came from West Prussia

You know about these sources?

kerntopf.com/diverses/kolliste.htm

odessa3.org/collections/land/poland

odessa3.org/collections/land/wprussia

And the Low German they spoke seemed to have some elements of Dutch and Low Prussian.

One of my grandmothers was fluent in Low German (Plattdeutsch). The dialect is actually a mixture of German, English and Dutch elements. Would you believe that my grandma understood English although she never learned it at school?
Softsong 5 | 495  
15 Aug 2009 /  #18
Wow! Thank you TheOther! I will checkout these three census lists! Great sources of information!

As far as "the church" records I've mentioned....no....I don't know where to find them or if they are published. They are referred to by those who have written about the German settlements in Poland whenever there is discussion as to the origins of the villages.

But, my friend who is active in many genealogy associations was able to get the local Lutheran church in the Michałki-Rypin area to show him some of their old church books, and I believe he will work on making some sort of index.

Yes, I can believe your grandmother could understand English! They say Plattdeutsch is a lot easier to learn than German as it is in a way more related to Old Saxon from which both languages developed.

I thank you for helping me. I am heading to work now, but will PM you with some interesting links about Lowland Languages. Probably you know already! But maybe something new for you....

Joan :-)

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