Kowalski, Nowak, Zielinski, Kwiatkowski, Wiśniewski, Lewandowski, Kaleta, Wójcik, Kowalczyk, Szymański, Mazur, Krawczyk, Piotrowski, Grabowski, Borowiec, Skiba, Paluch, Karp, Woźniak, Zając, Król, Stępień, Dudek, Sikora, Baran…. So a few words on Polish surnames history.
Back in the days…
How to create a Polish surname?
- Describing someone by father’s name: Radost son of Gwozdan, it was particularly useful when there was more than one person with the same first name.
- Describing someone by brother’s name: Radost brother of Dobruj, used when the first method was not decisive – fathers have the same name as well.
- Describing someone by profession: Radost the armourer, back than different villages were responsible for producing different kinds of goods. Thus usually all folks from one village had the same surname and that is how their landlords could tell them apart from others having the same name but living somewhere else.
- Describing someone by father’s name and profession: Radost son of Gwozdan, the armourer, more precise description, created by joining two previous methods, that was helpful both inside and outside the village.
- Describing someone by place of birth or residence: Radost from Haczów, over 8% of Polish surnames were created that way.
- Describing someone by place of birth or residence and profession: Radost from Haczów, the armourer.
- Describing someone by nickname: Radost Leśny (Leśny – as for living in forest, Polish las).
In XIV century using two words to describe someone became common among nobility and townspeople. In XV century two-words designations were also used among peasants and in formal documents such as birth or marriage certificates. In XVII century almost everyone used two-words designations however the second word was still not quite stabilized. One person used different surnames depending on situation. At that point surnames still were not inherited. At the end of XVII century especially among nobility second names began to be handed over. That tendency quickly reached all social classes. Till 1850 family names were strongly modified. In most cases there were changes in the way how last names were written or by adding various kinds of prefixes. After that year the process of last names’ evolution was finished.
Polish surnames on Poland’s map
Now you can check how the Polish surnames are located on Poland’s map. Quite often it happens that the area where the particular surname appears nowadays is connected with their family history!
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