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Surname Saturday – Baburs

Participating in my first Geneabloggers daily blogging theme – Surname Saturday!

The surname up this week is Baburs.

The most recent ancestor I have with this name is Karolīne Matilde Baburs, born in Riga and baptized in the Church of Jesus parish in the late 19th century, to Mārtiņš Baburs and his wife Ēde. Mārtiņš’ father, Ādams, may have been Catholic – an anomaly in an otherwise Lutheran family.

The reason I bring out this surname isn’t that I don’t know where my ancestors with this surname were from – they were at least born and baptized in the Latvian-speaking parishes in Latvia, and I have not yet exhausted the records looking for them – but the origin of the surname itself. It is not of Latvian origin, so while it may have been utilized by Latvians (or at least Latvian speakers), it is a borrowing from some other language.

But which one? Most commonly, names would be borrowed from German, Swedish or Russian, but it does not bear much resemblance to a borrowing from any of those. Surname websites – which I consider dubious at best and outright incorrect at worst – say that “Babur” is related to “Baber”, an English surname, derived from the given name “Barbara”. Otherwise, Internet searches tell me that Babur means “tiger” when it is the name of the Turkic Muslim founder of the Mughal dynasty, and the name of a clan in the state of Maharashtra in India.

Remembering that Latvians only acquired surnames in the nineteenth century, which is more likely for a Latvian family – a name originating with the English or a Turkic group? Both seem equally unlikely, given Latvia’s geographical position and historical movements in that time period.

Does anyone have any insight? Could there be a German, Swedish or Russian connection to the name that I have not yet found?

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