The BEST Guide to POLAND
Unanswered [1]  |  Archives [1] 
Witamy, Guest  |  Members
Home / Genealogy73


Polonius3 985 | 11,637    
9 Jul 2008  #1

Surnames ending in -ski are adjectival, and an adjective (as we all remember from school) describes someone as being of, about descended from, connected to or associated with a thing, place or whatever.

Originally knights and nobles had names such as Jan z Tarnowa (John of Tarnów) which in time adjectivalised into Jan Tarnowski.
English experienced a similar, albeit not identical process. John of Bedford eventually became simply John Bedford (the 'of' got dropped).
That is not to suggest that everyone with a Polish surname ending in -ski can trace their roots back to noble lineage, but it does mean there were nobles using that surname. More nobles used -ski ending names than those, for instance, describing tools, foods and animals: Motyka, Byk, Serwatka, Żyto, Kogut, Kołek, Baran, £opata, Wróbel, etc. which were names most often used by peasants. But there were nobles amongst the bearers of such names as well. At times, am entire village got ennobled for defending the prince against an enemy foray.

The German equiavlent of a -ski name is one starting with von, Dutch -- van, French -- de, etc.

ski 7 | 140    
9 Jul 2008  #2

ski isn't sign of nobility.

Yes, most of noble names have -ski ending but it is not the same as with van or sir.

I am the best example

OP Polonius3 985 | 11,637    
9 Jul 2008  #3

The -ski ending simply means of or from, as does de, di (Italian), van and von.
Yesteryear's Tomasz z £owicza would in time have evolved into Tomasz £owicki in much the same way as Sir Andrew of Hartmore would have eventually become Andrew Hartmore.
10 Jul 2008  #4

not quite. Kowalski evolved from Kowal which is Blacksmith as you may know, same for Kolodziejski and many more and Blacksmith has nothing to do with nobility as he is craftsman.
ADDER - | 1    
11 Jul 2008  #5

Not so. A relative along the line could have served with Sobieski, had money, was a knight or did some noble act. The ski could have been awarded to the family. when somebody gets knighted in England.
Patrycja19 63 | 2,703    
12 Jul 2008  #6

The szlachta (nobility) inherited both status and land. They were, however, obligated to perform military service for the king, and to submit to his tribunals (his court of moral principles or laws), but they were the independant magistrates over their own lands

much easier to just post a link to it..

as for the above -- my great grandfather and his father all served in the military
and owned abundance of lands in Poland .. but because Russia was in control
their noble status was more then likely taken away.
SSpringer 5 | 55    
12 Jul 2008  #7

do you have any info on rykowski? i was told that my family was/is high society in Dzierzega, and that my great great grandfather was a "Partial Squire" ? what exactly is a partial squire?
30 Jul 2008  #8

My Mother was from Polish nobility...surname suffixed 'ski'...officially it could mean 'from a rocky place' but the 'Kamin' mean it is indigenous Polish who were more likely to evolve as nobility than surfs who were mostly immigrants. My research pointed solidly to the suffix 'Ski' as from nobility.
z_darius 14 | 3,975    
30 Jul 2008  #9

not quite. Kowalski evolved from Kowal which is Blacksmith as you may know, same for Kolodziejski and many more and Blacksmith has nothing to do with nobility as he is craftsman.

Not necessarily so. Unlike England, every Polish male descendant of a nobleman inherited the social status, but not always its material aspect. In short, it was about blood and lineage rather than about being able to do diddly squat.

Hence, you may have had a very noble blacksmith ;)
24 Aug 2008  #10

That is not true.
Not every name ending with ski is noble
I am from noble family and I have two nameswith the hyifen between.
anglicy 1 | 5    
24 Aug 2008  #11

what about cki? i.e. potocki famous szlachta name
would the cki be more a noble ending than ski?
Dav1d 7 | 8    
24 Aug 2008  #12

does anyone know the name"zygmuntowski"?

does the"prawdzic coat of arms" mean anything to anyone? because i have found my name among a list of families that was in the coat of arms.

you can see the list of familes on the right hand side.

i hope it helps.
SSpringer 5 | 55    
24 Aug 2008  #13

I also forgot to mention I found that my families coat of arms is Doliwa
11 Jan 2009  #14

(£ączyński) looking for info on this name was a count in poland father of countess maria Walewska

Also looking for info on count Athenasius Walewski, he married Maria £ączyńska, she then became the famous countess Walewska, they also had a son together, born in 1805, cannot find info on him.
9 Jun 2009  #15

My family's name was Ryszkowski... on my ggGrandmother's name, on her passenger record, said Ryszkowska vel Gryszkowska. I am told that the ancient name of Gryszkowska was mentioned as old polish nobility. Apparently, the use of the "G" was silent or done away with later in the language.

Does anyone have any information on the Noble family Gryszkowsi?

addition to my last post: surname GRYSZKOWSKI is noted in the area even from the 16th century as "Nobilis Polonus" (Polish Nobles), their cradle was village OSTROZANY, and other places in the area.
plk123 8 | 4,169    
9 Jun 2009  #16

lol.. yeah, everybody is/was szlachta.
9 Jun 2009  #17

Together with the great Wyspianski's family.
9 Aug 2009  #18


I read in a book recently that a number of surnames with the ending of "ski" is more common in the USA and Australia than in Poland itself.

Many immigrants changed their names whilst on the boat heading for America and Australia. These transformations were usually to names thought by immigrants to be more respected in their native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added"ski" to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and australia than in Poland.
plk123 8 | 4,169    
9 Aug 2009  #19

I read in a book recently that a number of surnames with the ending of "ski" is more common in the USA and Australia than in Poland itself.

that's just impossible. lol

Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and australia than in Poland.

not sure about australia but in the US many, many poles dropped the ski or changed their names to make them easier in america.. some, you'd never even know were poles..
Domino 1 | 14    
9 Aug 2009  #20

This is true, there are two branches in my family which changed their name, both to much more English/Anglo style names. When I asked about this, I was told that there was a lot of discrimination against those of Polish decent, and those members just wanted their kids to not have to deal with the b.s. concerning the 'ski' in the name.
markskibniewski 3 | 201    
10 Aug 2009  #21

I would love to know where the person who told you this lives in the Usa. I have never even heard of discrimination against poles in the US. This person is just mistaken. There will always be ignorant persons in the world who will discriminate agaist someone who is different than they are. Let us not perpetuate the hate by spreading false statements about an entire country.
OP Polonius3 985 | 11,637    
27 Aug 2009  #22

According to legend, the Prawdzic c-o-a origianted when a knight with a lion crest married the daughter of Judge Jan Prawda whose heraldic device showed a rign or hoop. The merged c-o-a was called Prawdzic and depcited a lion holding a ring or hoop behind a brick wall.
Domino 1 | 14    
31 Aug 2009  #23

Not an entire country, but ignoramouses to be sure. In the small town I grew up in, anyone with an 'ski' behind their name was often called a dumb polack. Where the idea that people from Poland are dumb is beyond me, since some of the smartest people I knew were Polish, including my dad :) (may he rest in peace.)
markskibniewski 3 | 201    
31 Aug 2009  #24

My condolences for your late father, as I said before there are ignorant people in the world. I wouldn't necessarily call anyone who cracked a polish joke in thier lifetime a moron but I understand your point. There will always be some racest people in the world and I feel sorry for them. I don't believe that anyone who uses a racial slur or cracks a joke about another ethnicity is a racest or we would all probably be racist. I mean the irish would be drunks, asians would be horrible drivers, jews would all have big noses and are cheap, and to tell you the truth I would never have wanted to grow up in my or many countries being black. I have the utmost respect for people who overcome adversity including those subjected to ignorant persons, but if being called dumb is the worst thing that happened to me growing up I count my blessings. There are far worse fates.
Ziemowit 8 | 2,229    
31 Aug 2009  #25

Not every name in -ski is a nobility/gentry name. Many of them are also names formed on a common name (although this rule was mainly used in forming the very first peasant names in the 18th century):

Chrząszcz, Lis, Sokół, Struś, Kos, Dzik, Odyniec,
£oś, Wilczek, Kozioł, Zając, tych pełny zwierzyniec [...]
Jelec, Jawojsz, Grabianka, Konopka, Papara,
A Kiszka, Strzała, Wąż, Wężyk to już szlachta stara [...]
Wyszotawka, Zaremba, Szczuka, Soczko, Karsza,
Wrzosek, Zbrożek, Skorupka, to już szlachta starsza,
Ożga, Wyżga, Olizar, Mniszek, Mier, Orzeszko,
Pełka, Pausza, Wessel, Odrowąż, Maleszko,
Wąsowicz, Pociej, Radziwiłł, Sapieha, £aszcz, Tarło,
Tych imię nieraz Polskę w złym przypadku wsparło [...]

------------------------------------ "Herbarz szlachty wierszem opisany"

As early as in the beginning of the 17th century there appeared a widespread belief that a nobility/gentry name is a name in -ski or -cki. However, these, considered as "better" ones, were also commonly taken by the middle classes or bourgeoisie, as well as peasants, paicularly those aspiring to a higher status. The gentry protested against it, but to no avail:

[...] szlacheckie przezwiska
Używają częstokroć i rzemięśniczyska;
Dobrze rzemięśnikowi mieć przezwisko na -wicz,
nie na -ski, szlachecka to rzecz.

------------------------------------ Władysław Jeżowski, "Zabawy ziemiańskie"

In the 19th century, names in -ski were adopted en masse by the peasants in the north of Poland, particularly in the regions of Mazovia and Podlashia, where the influence of the villages inhabited by the small gentry (szlachta zagrodowa) on those inhabited by peasants was the greatest. The greatest percentage of names formed on common names can today be found in southern Poland. A high percentage of such names could be once observed among the gentry of the Great Duchy of Lithuania and south-eastern voivodships of the Crown.

(information in this post is based on the book by Bogdan Walczak, "Zarys dziejów języka polskiego", 1995.)
7 Sep 2009  #26

Yes and no to what you say.
MareGaea 29 | 2,770    
7 Sep 2009  #27

The German equiavlent of a -ski name is one starting with von, Dutch -- van, French -- de, etc.

Ehm, in Dutch the addition of "van" to a surname "Van Utrecht, Van Nistelrooy, Van Engeland", etc, has nothing to do with nobility. It just means that somebody's anchestors at one point in time lived in Utrecht (van means "from"), but at the time when the name was registered, they had moved somewhere else, but kept this being from Utrecht as a distinction between themselves and somebody else with the same first name.

Example: Jan Jansen is neighbour of Jan Jansen (in the old days lots of ppl were named the same - in this case it would be John John's son). Now how do we know which one we are dealing with? Simple: one of the two's father or grandfather came from Utrecht a long time ago. So you would get Jan Jansen and Jan Jansen van Utrecht. Later on they kept either "Jansen" or "van Utrecht". That's the story with the "van" names in Dutch.

If you are a nobleman in the Netherlands you always have two names behind the van and also most of the time the addition "tot" (to): "van Heeckeren tot Middachten" (from the castle of Heeckeren to the castle of Middachten") ; or "Van Heeckeren-Kell" (From the castle of Heeckeren to the castle of Kell). Nobility usually named their surnames after the extend of their property.

I'm pretty sure it's for Germany and France the same.

M-G (is just M-G, for Machine Gun or something)
jonni 16 | 2,494    
7 Sep 2009  #28

Yes and no to what you say.

Quite, as Mr Kowalski would say too.
7 Sep 2009  #29

If you want to know if your name is truly polish nobility go the website Genealogia dynastyczna (Geanology of Polish Dynastys). This website is based on a very old polish book which lists polish familes with noble status. My family is from Masovia. Just know that if you are an american that your name maynot be spelled correctly now. The english alphabet is not the same as the polish alphabet.

The Russians stole a great many estates during the 1700s. They made Russian the only legal language in Poland. Many people went from land owners to poverty with the Russian's whim. If they likes your land it was over for you.
OP Polonius3 985 | 11,637    
13 Sep 2009  #30

In Gemran noble names "von und zu" sometimes appears.

Click this icon to move up back to the quoted message. Bold Italic [quote]

To post as a guest, enter a temporary and unique username or login and post as a member.