Guild of One-Name Studies Regional Meeting – Spring 2022

Created by Julie Goucher using

Announcing Regional Reps Spring meeting for the Guild of One-Name Studies. Each quarter there will be two meeting choices which hopefully enables Reps from various parts of the globe to join.

Meeting 1 – Saturday 28th May 2022 at 10am London UK time

Meeting 2 – Monday 30th May 2022 at 7pm London UK time

The link for the meeting has been sent to Reps via email.

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Non-British Surnames – Finnish Surnames

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Those coming from the west of Finland typically have Swedish-Finnish surnames, with those coming from the east of the country have origins inline with Latvian or Estonian descent.

Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and it was in 1921 that legislation directed everyone to have a surname. Up until then people just used their given name as their communities were generally small.

Once mandatory surnames was introduced, many chose surnames that were occupational names. For example, Suutari is Shoemaker.

There are also plenty of Topographical surnames, generally indicative of where someone was living, for example – Aarnio means pristine forest. As many people chose this option the use of suffixes and prefixes became necessary. Those that lived higher in a community (up a hill for an example) added Yia or Yli to the end of the name. Those that lived lower down the hill or valley added Ala or Ali

The most common suffix is that of nen, originally indicating someone was from the east of Finland. It quite literally means small, though sometimes it is used to mean son, for example – Hanninen, Small son of Jonannes. On occasions the name refers to the place the family originated from, for example Ahonen means small forest glade or clearing.

The second most common name in Finland is Virtanen meaning small stream or river, and was often used by families whose settlement was literally near a river. Further exploration could be to explore the rivers in Finland to gain an understanding of where those rivers were, the topographical details of those places and then to drill down further to see if the place is a reasonable starting point for research.

Hamalainen was the surname adopted by those who came from the Hame district of south west Finland, north of Helsinki – a Topographical name. The surname of Heikkinen is means son of Heikki which is the equivalent name to Harry, meaning ruler of the estate, or household.  The potential is for this to be the Finnish equivalent to the son of the Lord of the Manor –  a Patronymic name. The name of Jarvinen which means a small lake indicating a family that lived close to a lake. It might be a tall order establishing which lake, Finland has 188,000 lakes! Again this is a Topographical surname. Laine is the Finnish word for wave or ocean, suggesting a family originated from a coastal area – a Topographical surname. An alternative could be a Characteristic surname – of someone who laid back, essentially going with the flow. It is a different spin on the surname, and whilst I would not discount it, I would opt for the first meaning.

There are approximately 24,000 surnames in Finland with a population of 5.5 million. The image below is a population density map which is identifying the spread of the population across the country. The darker the colour the more population there is living in the area. Whilst it is not an absolute way of working on your Finnish ancestry, it gives you an idea of the location of places in Finland and how densely populated a place was, thus providing context to your research.

Courtesy of Wikipedia – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2022 - Non-British Surnames, Finland, Non-British Surnames, One-Name Studies | 3 Comments

Non-British Surnames – Ecuadorian Surnames

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Following the arrival of the Spanish, the culture of Ecuador consolidated and moved towards Roman Catholic conversion.

Somewhere between 40-50% of the population is identified at MESTIZC, which is a blend of Indigenous and Spanish genes.

The official language is Spanish and there are two significant indigenous languages:

  1. QUECHUA – The language of the Inca’s which was prevalent in Ecuador prior to the Spanish settling.
  2. SHUAR – The language of the Indigenous people of Peru and Ecuador, members of the JIVAROAN who are an Amazonian tribe.

Surnames in Ecuador have a mix of origins – Spanish, Basque, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Italian and even Gaelic. In the rest of this post I will share some examples:

Name Surname Type Information,  Details or Meaning Origin
Alvarez Patronymic Son of Alvaro Spanish
Aguilor Occupational Hunter of eagles Basque
Castro Topographical Castle Latin
Cruz Topographical Cross Latin
Figueroa Occupational Seller and creator of statuettes Spanish
Hernadez Patronymic Son of Hernan Spanish
Herrera Topographical Iron mine Spanish
Lema Characteristic Eye Arabic
Molina Topographical Mill Latin
Molina Occupational Mill Latin
Mora Characteristic Dark skin Latin
Moran More Gaelic
Palma Topographical Someone from Palma Italian
Perez Patronymic Son of Pero Spanish
Ruiz Patronymic Son of Roderick Spanish
Sarmiento Occupational Grapevine Spanish
Sarmiento Topographical Grapevine (or someone from the town of the same name in Argentina Spanish
Vega Topographical Lives on the plain Spanish
Vaca Occupational Means cow Spanish

The range of surname types is consistent with other countries, likely the most common is Patronymic, indicating the son of…. In the case of illegitimate children, the child often takes the Patronymic format of his maternal grandfather.

Some surnames are in surname groups where it is easy to establish the type, if we look at the examples above there are some obvious Topographical ones, such as, Palma, Vega and Molina. Yet, some surnames are perhaps a reference to a location and another surname type. In this instance, Molina could also be an Occupational name, in this case, Mill is actually a reference to a Miller.

Traditionally in Ecuador, a father’s last name is taken as an individuals first last name and then uses their mother’s last name as the second last name, thus connecting the child to both parents and their cultural heritage. – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

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Non-British Surnames – Dutch Surnames

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The use of surnames in the Netherlands occurs in what I describe in three distinctive ‘waves’

  • Pre 1800 a name was used by some men which related to their place of origin or occupation, especially if this occupation had run across several generations. This was so you could distinguish one Johan from other, though it was not the norm.
  • Usage of surnames from around 1800, which was much later than other European countries. We now see people using a loose Patronymic structure where it was using the name of the father, and essentially the name changed each generation and this was the usual way people were identified from one another.
  • Mandatory surnames from 1811 following instructions from Napoleon Bonaparte.

Many Dutch surnames have a prefix, these are:

  • Van – of
  • Ter – at
  • Van der – the

Some example are:

  • De Groot – this becomes Degroot in databases
  • Van der Bilt – this becomes Vanderbilt

In Dutch indexes the prefix is ignored, whereas in the UK this can be recorded as Degroot as in the Netherlands or De Groot and therefore under D.

Having become mandatory from 1811 everyone was required to select a name that was to be permanent for the family. Here is the details of surname types selected by the Dutch population:

  • Patronymic Surnames – Many took this option as it was likely to have been in some use previously.
  • Occupation Surnames – This was probably the second most popular option selected – here are a few examples
    • Koek translates to cookie and was often used by bakers
    • Balk translates to beam and likely selected by someone was a carpenter
    • Timmerman also translates to carpenter
    • Slager translates to Butcher
    • Boer translates to farmer
  • Geographic Surnames
    • Name of town of origin
    • Name of a feature or landmark
    • Names ending in:
      • ink – likely to be from Overijssel
      • ing – likely to be from Drenthe
      • inc – likely to be from Gelderland
      • inga, ma or stra – likely to have originated in Friesland
    • Where the name relates to a building, farm, or road for example it might be possible with the use of a map to locate the actual building or location and perhaps identify, with some research the individual who first adopted the name.
  • Surnames based on nicknames or Characteristics – Based upon fact or perhaps ironic – examples
    •  fat translates to vet
    • skinny translates to mager
    • red hair translates to rood haar (name likely to be roodhaar)
  • Surnames given to Foundlings – Names might be given as
    • Zondernaam which translates to without name or they might have been given the name of the place where they were found. Registration might also be written as Int’veld which means in the field

Many thought this was to be a temporary requirement, or only to be used in official situations, and chose names that were funny – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2022 - Non-British Surnames, European Ancestors, Genealogy, Non-British Surnames, One-Name Studies, The Netherlands | 2 Comments

Non-British Surnames – Croatian Surnames

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The history of the people of Croatia is complex and that follows through to the naming structure. There is also some commonality with surnames in other countries, and in particular with the countries that once made up the former Yugoslavia.

Because of these complexities,  I have made a note to explore Croatian surnames more fully in the future, and provide a much shorter than it deserves post.

To advance researching in Croatia it is important to grasp a few underpinning factors:

  • How names are pronounced
  • How names are composed
  • Meaning of names
  • Factors that relate to regional surnames

Importantly there surnames that are region specific which is very important clue if you have no idea of the town the family came from.  A common surname is that of Horvat which is concentrated in the region of a small territory, one that belonged at one time to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

Many Croats in Mountain Kotory have the largest number of surnames with endings such as ets, ats and sh.  In Slavonia the form ich and ac are prevailing.

In particular this area has changed it’s borders, ruling governance and much else, that in turn impacts the names and how far those names might have migrated even within Europe, with overlap between the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland and Ukraine.

Whilst our research works from ourselves back to our ancestors, surnames change as do locations,and in this instance I recommend understanding the region your ancestors came from, because that contextual information will enable you to move forward. – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2022 - Non-British Surnames, Croatia, European Ancestors, Non-British Surnames, One-Name Studies | Leave a comment

Non-British Surnames – Belgian Surnames

Flag of Belgium – courtesy of Wikipedia

Belgium is a country of 10 million people which use approximately 190,000 surnames, of which the most common is Peeters.

Typical surnames in Belgium have various linguistic origins, from

  • French
  • Dutch/Flemish
  • German

Surnames fall into the following categories:

Patronymic names – these work in the same way as Anglo Saxon names, an ‘s’ added to the name, for example Jacobs or Peeters, sometimes there is a double ‘ss’ like in the name Janssen. Some names have an ‘x’ added to the name, if it ends with an ‘k’ such as Hendrickx . There are also French equivalents, without any additional letters, such as Michel, spelt the same way for a surname as a given name.

Older names, those from the 16th Century or earlier and sounding more Germanic, might have the suffix of mart, such as in the name of Jamart. Also linking in here is names that derive from a nickname of a Patronymic name, such as Jacquard from the name of Jacques, or Pirotte from Pierre; about 50% of the top 100 names belong in this category.

Geographical names – A place of origin is indicated as van in Dutch or de (sometimes du) in French, meaning from or of. Some names are indicative of surroundings or a generic place, such as from a mountainous area which is Vanden Bergh in Flemish or Dumont in French. Similarly, woods/forest is Vandenbosch in Flemish and Dubois in French. Flemish names beginning van der might be shortened as ver for example in Vermeersch.

Noble names, linked to a village aligned to a Fiefdom – Many surnames are the same as a hamlet, village, town, city or even a regional name in the Benelux of France. These likely mean the family was of noble origin and ruled lands in that area during the Medieval period.

Roots of the Belgian nobility are from the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France, and also influenced by the Habsburgian nobility system. The oldest Belgian noble family is probably the Limburg Strum family whose origins date from approximately 866, with the current spelling prevalent from the 13th century. Many families can trace their heritage back to the time of Charlemagne. There are about 20,000 noble people in Belgium belonging to 1300 families, of which 400 are of old nobility, predating the French Revolution.

Names typically have a prefix – de, de la, du, le in French, or van, van der, van den, de, t, or ter in Dutch. Intermarrying between noble families often results in a compound or hybrid naming structure.

Occupational names – Names such as Timmerman (Dutch) or Carpentier (French) translate to the name of Carpenter; or De Bakker (Dutch) and Boulanger (French) translates to Baker.

Descriptive names

    • Physical attributes – surnames such as De Groot (Dutch) or Legros (French) translates to big or fat; or De Lange (Dutch) or Legrand (French) translates to tall.
    • Country origins – some are indicative of a country that the name bearer hailed from, this could be Lallemond which translates to the German in French, or Lerusse translating to the Russian in French.

Many Walloon names have Medieval German origins and end in art or ard.

Variant of another name – The name of Jacques probably includes the name of Jaques, Jacquard. Depending on patterns of migration and the circumstances, the name might even have become anglicised and become the name of Jacks.

I did a very quick search on FreeBMD (, by way of an example. I searched just for the surnames below, did not specify a type (Births, Marriages and Deaths), nor did I specify a county or region.

  • JACQUES – 31,766
  • JAQUES – 20,243
  • JACKS – 7,384
  • JACS – nil results

This is by no means a true indication, but I am sure you get the idea. I also did not try any other names, but I do have one in mind for when I get the chance.

Names introduced to the country by migration

To explore Belgian surnames click HERE – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2022 - Non-British Surnames, Belgium, European Ancestors, Genealogy, Non-British Surnames, Surnames Series 2022 | Leave a comment

Non-British Surnames – Azerbaijani Surnames

Azerbaijan Flag, courtesy Wikipedia

The Azerbaijan language is included in the Turkic group of languages, which also includes, amongst others Turkish, Tatar, Kazakh, Bashkir and Uigur.

In addition, the Arabic, Persian and Islamic cultures had influence on the Azerbaijani people.

There are three components to names in Azerbaijan –  Surname, Name and Patronymic.

Female given names were associated with beauty, tenderness, kindness and sophistication, whereas male given names were associated with strength, courage and determination.

Middle names were formed in a different way, different to that of Russian and other Slavic languages. The Patronymic name of a person, that of his father does not change. Prefixes such as ovich, evich, owna, evna did not exist in Azerbaijani history, instead relate to the Soviet period. In modern times, these are used in official communications only.

The Patronymics have two forms – Ogly and Kyzy – the former means son and the latter means daughter. When the Red Army arrived in Azerbaijan in 1920, individuals were asked for their name as part of the registration process, as the name that we would associate with the surname, was essentially the name of the father, the Russians added the usual suffix to be found in Russian culture. About 80% of Azerbaijani’s have retained this, but gradually the Russian suffix is being removed.

Excluding the various endings, the pool of Russian surnames is relatively small, there are generally speaking 15 popular names and these account for 80% of the population.

  • Abbasov, Aliev, Babaev,
  • Gadzhiev, Guliev, Hasonov, Huseynov, Ibragimov, Ismailov
  • Musaev, Mamedov, Orujov,
  • Rasulov, Suleymonov, Veliev

With the name Mamedov being the most popular.

The following are a list of popular Azerbaijani Surnames

  • Abievi, Agalarov, Alekperov, Amirov, Askerov
  • Bahramov, Gambarov, Jafarov, Kasumov, Kerimov
  • Khanlarov, Mehdryev, Safaror, Vagifor

With the name being a popular adaptive form of the Arabic name Aliakbar divided into two parts – Ali (great) and Akbar (oldest).

In ancient times, locals in their entire life had at least three names, all of them different from each other

  • Children – a name given to them at birth, with a view of distinguishing one from another child.
  • Adolescent – given to a teenager by fellow villagers and dependent on characteristic traits, spiritual qualities or external characteristics
  • Name earnt in old age – names indicated by deeds, judgement, actions and behaviours over the whole life.

There are also prefixes added in a respectful manner, a degree of kinship, some of which might not be given through a connection to blood or marriage, but instead as a sign of respect.

To explore Azerbaijani surnames click HERE – used with permission

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. It is also part of my Surname Series 2022 and for those want to focus on Non-British Surnames click HERE. You can also find more surname posts HERE.

Posted in A-Z Challenge 2022 - Non-British Surnames, Azerbaijan, European Ancestors, Genealogy, Non-British Surnames, Surnames Series 2022 | 1 Comment

European Ancestors – Understanding France (6) Burials

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Flag adopted 15 Feb 1794

This post is part of a series about genealogy in France. You can read the complete series HERE.

Before 1792, there was no death registration in France. The closest record available was burial records, these were written by priests and these contained:

  • Date of the burial, written in full
  • Date of death, often written as the day before, or other indications of when the death took place
  • Burial place, churchyard, with, in some cases in the church
  • Name of deceased with occupation
  • Age of deceased
  • Name of the spouse of the deceased
    • or, if a child, the parents
  • Name of witnesses and relationship to the deceased, but this is not always provided
  • There might be an indicator if the death was sudden, or the deceased was given the last rites.

Burials were undertaken by priests and are not generally speaking a mechanism for recording the cause of death. It might be possible to potentially construct a hypothesis based upon other materials available, such as when it is known there was a significant outbreak of a particular condition or illness.

Posted in European Ancestors, France, Understanding France Series | Leave a comment

European Ancestors – Understanding France (5) Deaths

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Flag adopted 15 Feb 1794

This post is part of a series about genealogy in France. You can read the complete series HERE.

After 1792, deaths were required to be registered by civil officials. Information was believed to be more precise than previous, and generally contained:

  • Date including the time of event
  • Date of record, including the time
  • Name of deceased
  • Age of deceased
  • Place of birth of deceased
  • Occupation (for males or unmarried women)
  • Name of spouse (and former spouses if married more than once)
    • For unmarried women, or children name of parents
  • Name of witnesses and relationship to the deceased

It is possible to find burial information in addition to the civil registration of a death.

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Q & A – Reconstructing Families Using a Mac

Created by Julie Goucher – Feb 2020 Using

I recently received an email from someone at the beginning of their One-Name or Surname Study. The email contained several questions, which I am going to split into four posts. This is post three.

Click to read Post One, Post Two

Is there any advice on reconstructing families using a Mac?

Whether you use a Mac or a Windows device, I always recommend using genealogical software. For those that listened to the recording What to look for that suits your (One-Name/Surname) Study that I gave a few weeks ago, I explained about the options available – some genealogists use Excel for genealogical trees. I am way to impatient to invest the time in making those trees using Excel. In short, use the right tool for the job, and what suits your study, and to be mindful of making the most of the time you have available for your study and further research.

There are fewer genealogical software options for those that are using Mac computers. The software options available are:

Those marked * are the most commonly used with Guild of One-Name Studies members.

My advice remains the same, take each software option for a “spin”! Download where possible, any trial offering. Seek out comments from others, the Guild has a number of members using Mac’s and they no doubt will have preferences, many were awaiting the release of Roots Magic 8 as that is now able to run without an emulator on Macs.

For those who are using a Mac and wanting to have a website hosted by the Guild as a member benefit (Members Website Project (MWP)), and to use TNG (The Next Generation) are still able to do so, as long as the genealogical program used has the capability of creating a GEDCOM.

Choosing software, and all the considerations that go along with that choice are discussed as part of the Practicalities of a One-Name Study course.

Posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903), Q & A, Software and Applications | Leave a comment