The Origin of Surnames
In the first ages of the world a single name was sufficient for each individual; and that name was generally invented for the person, in allusion to the circumstances attending his birth, or to some personal quality he possessed, or which his parents fondly hoped he might in future possess.
Whether in imitation of the Norman lords, or from the great convenience of the distinction, the use of fixed surnames arose in France about the year 1000; came into England sixty years later, or with the Norman Conquest; and reached Scotland, speaking roundly, about the year 1100.
Christian names being given in infancy, and by friends and relatives, cannot, as a general rule, have bad significations, or be associated with crime or misfortune. It. is otherwise, however, with surnames. These will be found to be of all shades, from the best to the worst, the most pleasing to the most ridiculous. They originated later in life, after the character and habits of the individual had been formed, and after he had engaged in some permanent occupation, trade, or pursuit. They were given by the community in which he dwelt by enemies as well as by friends.
The first approach to the modern system of nomenclature is found in the assumption of the name of One's Sire in addition to his own proper name; as Caleb the son of Jephunneh. Sometimes the adjunct expressed the country or profession of the bearer; sometimes some excellence or blemish; as Diogenes the Cynic; or Dionysius the Tyrant.
A mother's name, that of a parent, or of some remoter ancestor more illustrious than the father, have in the same way been used to form new names. A like attention has been paid to sentiments of friendship and gratitude. Sometimes the wife's name became the husband's surname. The name of the tribe or people to which a man belonged might also become a surname. If any particular name described the locality of a man's residence or property, it may serve the same purpose. Personal acts and qualities have given rise to a great variety of surnames.
Surnames are traceable to several chief sources. There will be seen evidences in physical and political geography that the designations of countries, mountains, rivers, districts, towns, villages, hamlets, are all associated with the names of persons whom we daily meet, suggesting to the thoughtful mind most interesting topics regarding the histories of families and places.
Though the majority of our ancient family names are territorial, we have many large classes of exceptions, and the origin of most of them is not at all doubtful.
Surnames can scarcely be said to have been permanently settled before the era of the Reformation. The keeping of parish registers was probably more instrumental than anything else in settling them; for if a person were entered under one name at baptism, it is not likely he would be married under another and buried under a third; in some instances, prior to the keeping of parish registers, persons were recorded as having different names at different periods of their life. As to the derivations of surnames, it should be remembered, that places were named before families. You have only to examine any of those names which serve for lands and also for persons, to see this plainly. If you found the name of Cruickshanks, or Prettyman, Black-mantle, or Great-head, you would not hesitate. These are evidently coined for persons, and you find no such names of land, or for the double purpose. But then you can have as little doubt that names like Church-hill, Green-hill, Hazel-wood, Sandi-lands, were first given to places; and when you find them borne both by land and persons, you will conclude the persons took them from the territories. In general then, when a place and a family have the same name it is the place that gives the name to the people, not the family to the place. This rule, which will not be disputed by anyone who has bestowed some study or thought on the subject has very few exceptions.
There is a class of fables, the invention of a set of bungling genealogists, who, by a process like that which heralds call canting--catching at a sound pretend that the Douglases had their name from a Gaelic word, said to mean a dark gray man, but which never could be descriptive of a man at all; that the Forbeses were at first called For beast, because they killed a great bear; that Dalyell is from a Gaelic word, meaning "I dare;" that the Guthries were so called from the homely origin of gutting. three haddocks for King David the Second's entertainment, when he landed very hungry on the Brae of Bervie from his French voyage. These clumsy inventions of a late age, if they were really meant to be seriously credited, disappear when we find from record that there were very ancient territories, and even parishes, of Douglas, Forbes, Dalyell, and Guthrie, long before the names came into use as family surnames.
It was formerly customary to receive names from ancestors by compounding their name with a word indicating filial relationship. Names so compounded were termed patronymics, from Pater: father, and Onoma.: a name-father being used in the sense of ancestor. When personal names merged into family appellations, patronymics became obsolete; or, more correctly, ceased to be formed. Before this change was effected, in case a man was called Dennis: born on the Day of St. Dennis, sometimes his eldest son would be called Dennison, which in some cases, became Tennyson; and a man from a village in which was a church dedicated to St. Dennis was called Dennistoun. After the period in which descriptive names flourished, each of his children, whether male or female, would be called Dennis, so that this became literally a patronymic, inasmuch as it was a name received from a father. Howbeit, only those names that were taken from a parent when such was not the rule are called patronymics. Personal names lead the van as to all others, and are the basis of half their successors. Long after personal names were almost as widely diffused as persons, we find patronymics coming into use, the offspring. of necessity arising out of multiplicity.
But when we come to realize that nearly one third of Englishmen were known either by the name of William or John about the year 1300, it will be seen that the pet name and nick form were no freak, but a necessity. We dare not attempt a category, but the surnames of today tell us much. Will was quite a distinct youth from WiIlot, Willot from Wilmot, Wilmot from Wilkin, and Wilkin from Wilcock. There might be half a dozen Johns about the farmstead, but it mattered little so long as one was called Jack, another Jenning, a third Jenkin, a fourth Jackcock (now Jacox as a surname), a fifth Brownjohn, and sixth Micklejohn, or Littlejohn, or Propetjohn (i.e., well-built or handsome).
The first name looking like a patronymic is antediluvian, viz., Tubal-Cain: flowing out from Cain, as though O'Cain, given to intimate pride in relationship to Cain. During the Israelitish theocracy Gentile patronymics were in common use, as Hittites from Beth, but those personal came in later. As soon, however, as the New Testament opens we meet with Bar-Jonah, Bar-Abbas, names received from fathers in the conventional patronymical sense. It is, therefore, manifest that the chronology of patronymics, the period of their formation, lies about midway between primitive ages and time current.
The Saxons sometimes bestowed honorable appellations on those who had signalized themselves by the performance of any gallant action, like the Roman Cognomina. Every person conversant with the history of those times will call to mind that England was much infested with wolves, and that large rewards were given to such as were able by force or stratagem, to subdue them. To kill a wolf was to destroy a dangerous enemy, and to confer a benefit on society. Hence several Saxon proper names, ending in ulph and wolf, as Biddu1ph, the wolf-killer, or more properly " wolf-compel1er," and some others; but these, among the common people at least, did not descend from father to son in the manner of modern surnames.
Another early species of surname adjunct is the epithet Great, as Alexander the Great; with words expressive of other qualities, as Edmund Iron-side, Harold Hare-foot; and among the kings of Norway there was a Bare-foot. France had monarchs named Charles the Bald, Louis the Stutterer, and Philip the Fair.
As society advanced more in refinement, partly for euphony, and partly for the sake of distinction, other names came into common use.
Modern nations have adopted various methods of distinguishing families. The Highlanders of Scotland employed the sirename with Mac, and hence our Macdonalds and Macartys, meaning respectively the son of Donald and of Arthur.
It would, however, be preposterous to imagine that surnames universally prevailed so early as the eleventh century. We have overwhelming evidence that they did not; and must admit that although the Norman Conquest did much to introduce the practice of using them, it was long before they became very common. The occasional use of surnames in England dates beyond the ingress of the Normans. Surnames were taken up in a very gradual manner by the great, (both of Saxon and Norman descent) during the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. By the middle of the twelfth, however, it appears that they were (in the estimation of some) necessary appendages to families of rank, to distinguish them from those of meaner extraction.
The unsettled state of surnames in those early times renders it a difficult matter to trace the pedigree of any family beyond the thirteenth century. In Cheshire, a county remarkable for the number of its resident families of great antiquity, it was very usual for younger branches of the family, laying aside the Dame of their father, to take their name from the place of their residences, and thus in three descents as many surnames are found in the same family. This remark may be forcibly illustrated by reference to the family pedigree of the family of Fitz-Hugh, which name did not settle down as a fixed appellative until the time of Edward III.
Although most towns have borrowed their names from their situation and other respects, yet with some apt termination have derived their names from men; as Edwardston and Alfredstone. But these were from forenames or christian names, and not from sire names; and even almost to the period of the conquest forenames of men were generally given as names of places,
The Normans are thought to have been the first to introduce the practice of fixed surnames among us; and certainly a little while before the conquest, some of these adventurers had taken family names from their chateaux in Normandy. "Neither is there any village in Normandy," says Camden, "that gave not denomination to some family in England." The French names introduced into England at the conquest may generally be known by the prefixes de, du, des, de, la, st.; and by the suffixes font, ers, fant, deau, age, mont, ani, aux, bois, ly, eux, et, val, court, vaux, lay, fort, ot, champ, and dille, most of which are component parts of proper names of places, as every one may convince himself by the slightest glance at the map of Northern France. But that these Norman surnames had not been of long standing is very certain, for at the Conquest it was only one hundred and sixty years since the first band of Northmen rowed up the Seine, under their leader Hrolf, whom our history books honor with the theatrical name of Rollo, but who was known among his people as "Hrolf the Ganger."
The first example of fixed surnames in any number in England, are to be found in the Conqueror's Valuation Book called Doomsday. "Yet in England," again to quote the judicious Camden, "certain it is, that as the better sort, even from the Conquest, by little and little took surnames, so they were not settled among the common people fully until about the time of Edward the Second."
Those dashing Norman adventurers introduced to the British Isle the custom of chivalry and the surnames they had adopted from their paternal castles across the channel. They made a rage for knighthood and turned the ladies' heads. An English princess declined to marry a suitor who "had not two names." Henry I wished to marry his natural son Robert to Mabel, one of the heiresses of Fitz-Hamon. The lady demurred:
"It were to me a great shame
To have a lord withouten his twa name."
Whereupon King Henry gave him the surname of Fitzroy, which means son of a king.
The era of fixed surnames does not rest only on the authority of Camden. It can be proved by a thousand records, English and Scotch. It is almost sufficiently proved when it can be shown the race of Stuart already first of Scotch families in opulence and power, distinguished by no surnames for several generations after the Norman Conquest. Much later the ancestors of the princely line of Hamilton were known as Walter Fitz-Gilbert, and Gilbert Fitz-Walter, before it occurred to them to assume the name their kinsmen had borne in England. But surnames were undoubtedly first used in the twelfth century and came into general use in the following one.
THE SAXON PATRONYMIC
Was formed by adding ing to the ancestor's name. as AElfreding, which means Alfred's son; the plural for which is AElfredingas.
THE ENGLISH PATRONYMIC
Which is exceedingly common, is generally indicated by affixing son to the name of a progenitor, and is incapable of being used in a plural form or in the generic sense. For instance, Gibson, a son of Gibbs, a contraction for Gilbert. Munson, a son of MUDD, a contraction of Edmund.
DB AND MAC
Are from the Latin word De, which
means of. This is a Patronymical sign common to French, Italian, and even
German names. Thus Deluc which means of Luke. Dwight means of Wight; and De Foe
means of the Faith.
Fitz stands for Filius, a son, and received
through the Normans.
VAN AND VON.
Corresponding more or less closely with de,
ac, is the Dutch van, and usually applied with the force of the, as
Vandersteen, which means of the stone, hill, from which have sprung Folli,
Fell, Knox. Vandervekle means of the field; Van Meter means living on hired land;
and Vandeveer means of the ferry.
THE WELSH PATRONYMIC
Is a form of the Celtic means mac, which the
Cambrian people made Mab or Map, and shortening it to a letter h, p, or its
cognate f, gave it work to do as a patronymical prefix. Thus, Probart, son of
Robert; Probyn, son of Robin; Blake, son of Lake; Bowen, son of Owen; Price,
son of Rice or Rheese; Priddle, son of Riddle; and Prichard, son of Richard.
The Highlanders, Irish and Welsh hold mac
in common. The Welsh delight to have it in the forms of mab, map, ap, hop,
b, p, f. In Irish names mac tends toward mag, ma, and c. But
Scotland took most lovingly to mac. The Milesians found a greater charm
in Eoghan: a son, forming ua, and that used as 0 in the sense of eldest son,
for he only was allowed to use it. The Irish developed a patronymic out of
their Erse treasury more elastic and poetic than the Gaelic mac.. The
Celtic for young, offspring son, is, as above given, eoghan, whence Egan
for Hugh, eoghan: son of Hugh; and also Flanegan, son of Flan.
THE GALLIC PATRONYMIC
Is mac, meaning a son; and 0 from
eoghan, for a first born son. The Gaels also had a patronymical affix
derived from eoghan, known as ach, och, the source of our ock,
as seen in hillock, which means little hill.
THE SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE PATRONYMIC
Is formed by az, or ez affixed. The two words are variations of the tail Filius, a son; as Alvarez, son of Alva; and Enriquez. son of Henry.
THE ITALIAN PATRONYMIC
Was sometimes formed by placing the name of
a son before the name of his father, as Galileo Galilei, which means Ga1i1eo,
the son of Galilei; Speron Speroni, which means Speron, the son of Speroni.
THE RUSSIAN PATRONYMIC
Is itch for a son; and of, ef
or if for a grandson or descendant. Romanovitch Jouriff: son of Romain,
grandson of Joury; and Romanoff, descended from Romain, son of Rome.
THE MODERN GREEK PATRONYMIC
Assumes the forms pulos, soula, as in
the name Nicolopulos, son of Nicholas.
THE GERMAN. DUTCH, SWEDISH, AND LAPLAND PATRONYMIC
Are sobn, zen, sen, son, zoon, and dotter,
such as Mendelssohn, son of Mendel; Thorwaldsen, son of Thor-
wald; and Larsdotter, son of Lars.
Is aitis, ait or at, used as affix,
thus, Adomaitis, meaning a son of Adam.
THE HINDOSTANEE PATRONYMIC
Is putra, added as an affix; as
occurs in Rajaputrl1, son of a king.
THE CHINESE PATRONYMIC
Is tse, or se, used as an
affix, as Kung-fut-se, which means Kung, the son of Fo; and Yang-tse-Kiang,
river, son of the ocean.
THE LATIN PATRONYMIC
Is illus, as Hostilius, son of
THE GREEK PATRONYMIC
Is idas, modified to ida, ides,
id, i, ode For instance, Aristides, son of Ariston.
THE HEBREW PATRONYMIC
Proper is ben, from the word Eben, a
stone. The Chaldees used Bar in the sense of lofty, elevated, superior,
which was primarily applied to eminence, and is identical with our Barr. As
Barzillai, son of Zillai; Benjoseph, son of Joseph.
The primary sense ot kin seems to have been relationship: from thence family or offspring.
The next meaning acquired by kin was child, or "young one. " We still speak in a diminutive sense of a manikin, kilderkin, pipkin, lambkin, jerkin, mini-kin (little Minion), or Doitkin.
Terminations in kin were slightly going down in popular estimation when the Hebrew invasion made a clean sweep of them. They found shelter in Wales, however, and directories preserve in their list of surnames their memorial forever.
In proof of the popularity of kin are
the surnames of Simpkinson, Hopkins, Dickens, Dickinson, Watkins, Hawkins,
Jenkinson, Atkinson, and all the rest. The patronymics ending in kins got
abbreviated into kiss, kes, and ks. Hence the origin of our
Perkes, Purkiss, Hawkes, and Hawks, Dawks, Jenks, Jucltes, and Jukes (Judkins).
IN OR ON.
This diminutive, to judge from the Paris
Directory, must have been enormously popular with the French. England's
connection with Normandy and France generally brought the fashion to the
English Court, and in habits of this kind the English folk quickly copied.
Terminations in kin and cock were confined to the lower orders
first and last. Terminations in on or in and ot or et, were
the introduction of fashion, and being under patronage of the highest families
in the land, naturally obtained a much wider popularity.
OT AND ET.
These are the terminations that ran first in favor for many generations.
This diminutive ot et is found in the English language in such words as poppet, jacket, lancet, ballot, gibbet, target, gigot, chariot, latchet. pocket, ballet. In the same way a little page became a paget, and hence among our surnames Smallpage, Littlepage, and Paget.
Coming to baptism, we find scarcely a single name of any pretensions to
popularity that did not take to itself this desinence. The two favorite girl
names in Yorkshire previous to the Reformation were Matilda and Emma. Two of
the commonest sur-
names there today are Emmott and Tillot, with such variations as Emmett and Tillett, Emmotson and Tillotson.
Of other girl names we may mention Mabel,
which from Mab became Mabbott; Douce became Doucett and Dowsett; Gillian or
Julian, from Gill or Jill (whence Jack and Jill), became Gillot, Juliet,
and Jowett; Margaret became Margett and Margott, and in the north Magot.
NAMES DERIVED FROM OCCUPATIONS AND PURSUITS.
After these local names "the most in number have been derived from Occupations or Professions."
The practice of borrowing names from the
various avocations of life is of high antiquity. Thus the Romans had among them
many persons, and those too of the highest rank, who bore such names as
Figures, Pictor, and Fabritius, answering to the Potters and Paynters, of our
own times. These names became hereditary, next in order after the local names,
about the eleventh and twelfth centuries. As local names generally had the
prefix de or at, so these frequently had le, as Stephen le
Spicer, and Walter le Boucher.
NAMES DERIVED FROM DIGNITIES, CIVIL AND ECCLESI" ASTICAL; AND FROM OFFICES.
The same principle which introduced surnames
borrowed from trades and occupations led to the adoption of the names of
dignities and offices, which also became hereditary; as Emperor, King, Prince,
Duke, Earle, Pope, Bishop, Cardinal, etc.
SURNAMES DERIVED FROM PERSONAL AND MENTAL QUALITIES.
These seem to form one of the most obvious sources of surnames, and a prolific source it has been. Nothing would be more natural at the first assumption of surnames, than for a person of dark complexion to take the name of Black or Blackman, a tawny one that of Browne, and a pale one that of White or Whiteman. But it was not from the head alone that names of this description were taken, for we have, in respect of other personal qualities, our Longs and our Shorts, our Strongs and our Weaklys, and our Lightfoots and our Heavisides, with many more whose meaning is less obvious. Among the names indicative of mental or moral qualities, we have our Hardys and Cowards, our Livelys and our Sullens, our Brisks and our Doolittles; and Brainhead, which later became Brainerd.
SURNAMES DERIVED FROM CHRISTIAN NAMES.
Everybody must have remarked. the great number of names of this kind. Who does not immediately call to mind some score or two of the name of Edwards, Johnson, Stevens, and Harrison, in the circle of his acquaintance. Many of the christian forenames of our ancestors were taken up without any addition or change, as Anthony, Andrew, Abel, Baldwin, Donald, etc. Others have been corrupted in various ways, as Bennet from Benedict, Cutbeard from Cuthbert, Stace from Ustace.
NAMES FROM MANORS AND SMALLER ESTATES.
The surnames from these sources are almost innumerable. There is scarcely a city, town, village, manor, hamlet, or estate, in England, that has not lent its name to swell the nomenclature of Englishmen.
SURNAMES FROM VARIOUS THINGS.
We find the names of the heavenly bodies, beasts, birds, fishes, insects, plants, fruits, flowers, metals, etc., very frequently borne as surnames; as Sun, Moon, Star, Bear, Buck, Chicken, Raven, Crab, Cod, Bee, Fly, Lily, Primrose, Orange, Lemon, Gold, Silver, etc.
SURNAMES FROM THE SOCIAL RELATIONS, PERIODS OF AGE, TIME, ETC.
There are several surnames derived from consanguinity, alliance, and from other social relations, originating, from there having been two or more persons bearing the same christian name in the same neighborhood; as Fader, Brothers, Cousins, Husbands; and closely. connected with the foregoing are the names derived from periods of age, as Young, Younger, Elder, Senior. From periods of time we have several names, as Spring, Summer, Winter. The following surnames may also find a place here: Soone, Later, Latter, Last, Quickly.
A CABINET OF ODDITIES.
There are a good many surnames which seem to have originated in sheer caprice, as no satisfactory reason for their assumption can be assigned. It is doubtful, indeed, if they were ever assumed at all, for they have very much the appearance of what, in these days, we are accustomed to call nicknames or sobriquets, and were probably given by others to the persons who were first known by them, and so identified with those persons that neither they nor their immediate posterity could well avoid them. To this family belong the names borrowed from parts of the human figure, which are somewhat numerous; as Pate, Skull, Cheek, Neck, Side, Nailes, Hee1e, etc. Then there is another set of names not much less ridiculous, namely those borrowed from coins, and denominations of money, as Farthing, Money, Penny. Besides these we have from the weather, Frost, Tempest, and Poggi from sports, Bowles, Cards; from vessels and their parts, Forecastle, Ship; from measures, Peck, Inches; from numbers, Six, Ten.
It is really remarkable that many surnames
expressive of bodily deformity or moral turpitude should have descended to the
posterity of those who perhaps well deserved and so could not escape them, when
we reflect how easily such names might have been avoided in almost every state
of society by the simple adoption of others; for although in our day it is
considered an act of villainy, or at least a "suspicious affair," to
change one's name unless in compliance with the will of a deceased friend, when
an act of the senate or the royal sign manual is required, the case was widely
different four or five centuries ago, and we know from ancient records that
names were frequently changed at the caprice of the owners. Names of this kind
are very numerous, such as, Bad, Silly, Outlaw, Trash, etc.
NAMES DERIVED FROM VIRTUES AND OTHER ABSTRACT IDEAS.
To account for such names as Justice,
Virtue, Prudence, Wisdom, Liberty, Hope, Peace, Joy, Anguish, Comfort, Want,
Pride, Grace, Laughter, Luck, Peace, Power, Warr, Ramson, Love, Verity, Vice,
Patience, etc., they undoubtedly originated in the allegorical characters who
performed on the ancient mysteries or moralities; a specie of dramatics pieces,
which before the rise of the genuine drama served to amuse under the pretext of
instructing the play-goers of the "olden tyme."
FOREIGN NAMES NATURALIZED IN ENGLAND.
Various causes might be assigned for the
variety that exists in the nomenclature of Englishmen. Probably the principal
cause is to be found in the peculiar facilities which that island had for many
ages presented to the settlement of foreigners. War, royal matches with foreign
princesses, the introduction of manufactures from the continent, and the
patronage which that country has always extended to every kind of foreign
talent all have of course tended to introduction of new names.
The practice of altering one's name upon the occurrence of any remarkable event in one's personal history, seems to have been known in times of very remote antiquity. The substitution of Abraham for Abram, Sarah for Sarai, etc., are matters of sacred history. In France it was formerly customary for eldest sons to take their father's surnames, while the younger branches assumed the names of the states allotted them. This plan also prevailed in England sometime after the Norman Conquest.
In the United States they carry this system
of corrupting or contracting names to a ridiculous extent. Barnham is Barnum;
Farnham (fern ground) Farnum; Killham (kiln house or home), Killwn; Birkham
(birch house) Birkum, and so forth with similar names. Pollock becomes Polk;
Colquhoun becomes Calhoun; and M'Candish becomes M'Candless.
By an historical surname is meant a name
which has an illusion to some circumstance in the life of the person who
primarily bore it. Thus Sans-terre or Lack-land, the by-name of King John, as
having relation to one incident in that monarch's life, might be designated an
historical surname. To this class of surnames also, belongs that of Nestling,
borne by a Saxon earl, who in his infancy, according to Verstegan, had been
rescued from an eagle's nest.
During the middle ages the Latin language was the language of literature and politics; accordingly in history and in the public records proper names had to assume a Latin form. The change was not always a happy one. Authors were obliged to change their own names as well as the names of the persons they celebrated in either prose or verse. The history of France was still written in Latin in the seventeenth century, all names consequently recorded in Latin. In the sixteenth century the Germans used to translate them into Greek, The absurdity which it entailed undoubtedly hastened the disappearance of the custom,
The chiefs of an American tribe in North America receive a new name when they have earned it by their exploits.
A similar practice prevails in various negro
tribes. The Greeks, in olden times, used to change their names on the smallest
pretense, and with the greatest indifference. The emperors of Japan and those
of China after their death receive a new name.
ON THE CHANGING OF NAMES.
With us a woman changes her name when she marries; among the Caribs of the Antilles it was the custom for husband and wife to exchange names. In some formerly, and at the present day in Cape Verd Islands, a liberated slave takes the name of his old master; the adopted person substitutes the name of the person who adopts him for his own; the law allows that a donor or testator may require that his name should be taken by the person benefited.
In 1568 Philip enacted a law that the Moors who lived in Spain should abandon the use of their peculiar idiom, and of their national names and surnames, and substitute in their stead Spanish idioms and Spanish names. He hoped to make new men of them, to denationalize them, if we may use the term, and to merge them into his own people. He had a keen appreciation of the value of proper names, but like all despotic sovereigns, he was blind to the influence or time, which can alone produce the gradual fusion of a conquering with a conquered people, more especially when differences in religion add their overwhelming weight to one side of the balance.
The Moors obeyed, but still retained their national feelings and religious beliefs; later, however, when they were compelled to choose between exile on the one hand, and apostasy on the other, they returned to their old country, and carried back ,with them a number of. Spanish names. Accordingly, in several Mauritanian families descended from the Andalusian Mussulmans, we still find the names of Perez, Santiago, Valenciano, Aragon, etc., names which have sometimes led European authors into error, and made them fancy they saw apostates from Christianity among the descendants of the martyrs ot Islamism.
The robbers whose trade it was to carry men away and sell them as slaves, needed no legal compulsion to change the names of their slaves. The precaution which they naturally took in this matter baffled the researches of disconsolate parents, who could only endeavor to recover their lost children by a description which was always imperfect and always uncertain.
In modern times the same system has been
adopted, although it has not been dictated by equally prudential motives. The
laws of Christian Europe have even in our own times legalized the sale of
slaves. As soon as a negro had landed in the colonies it was usual for his
purchaser to give hin a new name.
In England the middle classes acquired a decidedly important political influence as early as the year 1258, or not later than 1264, the quarrels of the nobles and the king having opened the road to Parliament for the representatives of the commons. Moreover, an act that no tax should be levied without the consent of their representatives was passed before the year 1300, and accordingly, soon after that date, we find hereditary names commonly used in the middle classes.
For a contrary reason the change cannot have taken place in Germany until a much later period. In order to prove this, an instance is given which will be all the more conclusive from its being connected with an intermediate point between that country and France. In the town of Metz, which in idiom and by union with the dominions of the descendants of Clovis and Charlemagne, was decidedly French, but which for thirty years had been Germanized in consequence of its political position, you might have noticed at the close of the thirteenth century that its chief magistrates, who were all knights, bore without exception individual or derived surnames instead of family surnames. When we say derived, we mean either from the place in which they lived, or from the post which their military duties obliged them to occupy. It was not until the close of the latter half of the fourteenth century that hereditary names became common among men who were high in office, so that among their inferiors it is only fair to infer that they were rarer still.
The etymology of hereditary names in England and in Germany is generally the same as in France and Italy. The following remarks will embody the inferences to be drawn from their examination, for the use of philologists. In languages of Teutonic origin, when descent is implied merely, the word son is placed after the father's name; such is the derivation of all the family names in the languages of Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and England, which terminate in this way. There are some exceptions, such as Ferguson and Owenson, which serve to corroborate the statement as to the possibility of the union of two languages to form one and the same proper name; in the instances quoted above, a Saxon termination is joined to a Caledonian or a Welsh name.
Attention has already been drawn to the custom of giving the father's name, in the genitive case, to the son as a surname. The addition of a final s in English, and of the syllable ez in Spain, sufficed to change Christian praenomina into surnames, and afterwards into family names; Peters, Williams, Richards, Henriquez, Lopez, Fernandez, literally (son) of Peter, of William, of Richard, of Henry, of Lope (or Wolf), of Fernando or Ferdinand.
D'Andre, Dejean, Depierre, have probably become family names in France in a similar way. The name of the writer who was perhaps the keenest appreciator of the genius of the immortal Dante that ever lived, Giuseppe di Cesare, shows that a similar form was not foreign to Italian customs.
As in Italy, so also in the greater part of Europe, the practice of drawing up deeds and charters in Latin was almost universal, and in these the son was designated by his father's name in the genitive case, hence we must attribute all the names which are characterized by such a termination to this custom. Such names, for instance, as Fabri, Jacobi, Simonis, Johannis, etc., names which would be multiplied without end if other languages had retained the old Latin termination like the Italian. The countries where the greatest number will be found will be those (it may be quite safely conjectured) where the custom of writing legal documents in Latin prevailed the longest.
Somewhat similar in Wales, the sign of descent, or rather of sonship, led to the formation of surnames, which later again became hereditary names. The word " ab," "when placed between two names, expresses descent, Rhys ab Evan (Rhys, the son of Evan); the vowel is gradually lost in common use, and the name becomes Rhys Evan, and, according to the same rule, successively takes the form of the following patronymics, Bowen, Pruderrech, Price.
It is still the same theory, only more simply carried out, which regulated the formation of family names in Ireland and in Scotland. As soon as the head of a clan had adopted some hereditary name, that name was given to all his vassals, whatever rank they might happen to occupy, and however remotely connected they might be by ties of kindred with the head of the clan, and further, even though they had only entered. it by enfranchisement or by adoption. The feeling of pride which suggested such a system is by no means an offensive one; we excuse it on the ground of its similarity to the old patriarchal customs; the head of the clan who is so powerful, and such an object of reverence, is but the eldest brother of a large family, and the name which he takes belongs to all its members.
It will not be quite so easy to discover a reason for the feeling of vanity which in Spain and in Portugal led to such a tedious multiplicity of names. Birthplace, or the customary home, are not considered sufficient for a full description of a lordly title; alliances, adoptions, and the like, were all dragged in to increase the number of names. An ignorant phase of devotional feeling added to its proportionate share to their Christian praenomia; it may, therefore, be easily inferred what needless confusion must have arisen in the ordinary transactions of life through this two-fold prodigality of names.
As the nobles in Sweden had not adopted hereditary names before the close of the sixteenth century, it followed as a matter of course that the middle classes did not use them until a still later period. The choice of names which this latter class made is worthy of notice. We know many names in France which indicate occupations, such as Draper, Miller, Barber, Maker, Slater, Turner,. (*Mercier, Meunier, Barbier, Boulanger, Couvreuf, Toumeur.)
The same may be found in England, but not in the same quantity; the oldest English commoners were freeholders of land rather than either merchants or manufacturers. There are few if any such, in Sweden; the greater part of their names are the names of properties, or of farms, or of forests, and were of that character because they were selected by a class who wished to approximate to the nobles by imitating their ways, and consequently not because they were the result of a need for distinctive signs, a need which is totally distinct from any individual wish or caprice.
In Holstein and in Courland there are still
many families who have no names peculiarly their own. In this instance, again,
the scourge of feudalism is felt in all its severity.
ORIGIN OF OUR FAMILY.
Whatever concerns the origin of our family from whom proceeded the sturdy men that planted our infant states has for all of us an especial charm, not only from what we know, but for what we hope to ascertain.
Our ancestors, tracing back their lineage to Pict and Dane, to the legionaries of Rome, or to the sea kings of the Baltic, had gained strength from the fusion in their nature of various and opposing elements, and combined what was best of many races.
That our ancestors were fond of fighting when provoked, regardless of personal safety or private advantage, cannot be denied. For the five centuries following the conquest, wars at home and abroad succeeded with little cessation. Military duty was incumbent on all who could bear arms. Personal encounters between knight and squire in mail with lance and battle axe, the rest in quilted doublets, with pike and bow, made men indifferent to danger, and induced habits of hardihood and daring.
According to some authorities the history of mankind began with Adam and Eve about six thousand years ago; and that their descendants spread over Asia first, then over Africa, and then over Europe. But science clearly points that the world and its in. habitants in some form must have existed for millions of years.
It took primitive man four thousand years to learn how to make a hole in a stone, insert a stick in it, and use it for a weapon. Then he became master of the forest, with power readily to provide himself with meat food. From fisherman and hunter man developed into a herder offlocks, a tiller of the soil, a cultivator of grain. Then came attachment to the family and the growth of the family into clans and nations.
The first historical record is dated about three thousand seven hundred years ago, when a man by the name of Inachus led a very large company of emigrants from Egypt into Greece. These found that country inhabited by savages, who no doubt, were the descendants of those who had wandered there from Asia.
Inachus and his companies established themselves in Greece, and from that point of time Europe gradually became occupied by civilized people.
Thus three quarters of the globe, Asia Africa and Europe, were settled. But America was separated from Asia by the Pacific Ocean, almost ten thousand miles across; and from Europe and Africa by the Atlantic, about three thousand miles across. Of America in ancient times people knew nothing.
The ships in olden times were small and feeble; and navigators seldom dared to stretch forth upon the boundless sea. Even the mariner's compass, that mysterious but steadfast friend of the sailor was not used by the Europeans until 1250.
THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS.
It was in the year 1607 that the first emigrants, to successfully form a permanent colony, landed in Virginia. For twelve years after its settlement it languished under the government of Sir Thomas Smith, Treasurer of the Virginia Company in England. The Colony was ruled during that period by laws written in blood; and its history shows us how the narrow selfishness of such a despotic power would counteract the very best efforts of benevolence. The colonist suffered an extremity of distress too horrible to be described.
Of the thousands of emigrants who had been sent to Virginia at great cost, not one in twenty remained alive in April, 1619, when Sir George Yeardley arrived. He bought certain commissions and instructions from the company for the "Better establishing of a commonwealth here," and the prosperity of Virginia began from this time, when it received, as a commonwealth, the freedom to make laws for itself. The first meeting was held July 30, 1619, more than a year before the Mayflower, with the pilgrims, left the harbor of Southampton.
The first colony established by the Plymouth Company in 1607, on the coast of Maine, was a lamentable failure.
The permanent settlement of New England began with the arrival of a body of Separatists in the Mayflower in 1620, who founded the colony of Plymouth.
The Separatists' migration from England was followed in a few years by a great exodus of Puritans, who planted towns along the coast to the North of Plymouth, and obtained a charter of government and a great strip of land, and founded the colony of Massachusetts Bay.
Religious disputes drove Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson out of Massachusetts and led to the founding of Rhode Island in 1636.
Other church rangles led to an emigration from Massachusetts to the Connecticut valley, where a little confederacy of towns was created and called Connecticut.
Some settlers from England went to Long Island Sound and there founded four towns which, in their turn, joined in a federal union called the New Haven Colony.
In time New Haven was joined to Connecticut, and Plymouth and Maine to Massachusetts; New Hampshire was made a royal colony; and the four New England colonies Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut were definitely established. The territory of Massachusetts and Connecticut stretched across the continent to the "South Sea" or Pacific Ocean.
The Maryland colony was founded by Lord Baltimore, a Roman Catholic, who was influenced in his attempts of colonization by a desire to found a refuge for people of his own faith; and the first settlement was made in 1634 at St. Mary's. Annapolis was founded about 1683, and Baltimore in 1729.
Meantime Henry Hudson in the employ of the Dutch, discovered the Delaware and Hudson Rivers in 1609; and the Dutch, ignoring the claims of England, planted colonies on these rivers and called the country New Netherlands.
Then a Swedish company began to colonize the Delaware Bay and River coast of Virginia, which they called New Sweden.
Conflicts between the Dutch and the Swedes followed, and in 1655 New Sweden was made a part of New Netherlands.
The English seized New Netherlands in 1664, giving it to the Duke of York; and the Duke, after establishing the province of New York, gave New Jersey to two of his friends, and sold the three counties on the Delaware to William Penn. Meanwhile the king granted Penn what is now Pennsylvania in 1681.
The Carolinas were first chartered as one proprietary colony but were sold back to the king and finally separated in 1729.
Georgia, the last of the thirteen English colonies, was granted to Oglethorpe and others; as a refuge for poor debtors, in 1732.
In 1774 General Gage became governor
of Massachusetts; and seeing that the people were gathering stores and
cannon, he attempted to destroy the stores, and so brought on the battle of
Lexington and Concord, which opened the war for Independence. The English army
was surrounded at Yorktown by Washington and the French fleet and forced to
surrender. A convention at Philadelphia framed the Constitution of the United
NATIONS THAT HAVE OWNED OUR SOIL.
Before the United States became a nation, six European powers owned, or claimed to own, various portions of the territory now contained within its boundary. England claimed the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. Spain once held Florida, Texas, California and all the territory south and west of Colorado. France in days gone by ruled the Mississippi valley. Holland once owned New Jersey, Delaware and the valley of the Hudson in New York and claimed as far eastward as the Connecticut River. The Swedes had settlements on the Delaware. Alaska was a Russian possession.
The Reference For The Above Is; "Origin and History of the Name Smith: and an account of the origin of Surnames and Forenames; together with over five hundred Christian names of men and women and their signifiance: the Crescent family record. Chicago, Ill: American Publishers Association. 1902, 130 pages."
The Surname-Forename information contains much that will be helpful to you. The rest of the book is too general to assist you with any surname lines..Many other surname lines published from about 1900-1910 by this firm........Harold Oliver, Director America's First Families.