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Latvian Surname Project

Squeaking in for Surname Saturday (in somebody else’s timezone…)…

Today, I bring you the launch of the Latvian Surname Project!

The most common search term that brings people to my blog is “Latvian surnames”. Therefore, I thought starting a resource on Latvian surnames and their meanings could be helpful to a lot of people.

So far, there are only 207 names, but this is a work in progress, and new names will be uploaded regularly. If you have any submissions, do share them! Guidelines are on the main page.

Any questions or comments, do let me know! If you have any other ideas for answers I should add to the FAQs on the main page, please mention them too. I’m not an expert (yet), but since there is a lack of information out there on Latvian surnames, especially information accessible to people who don’t speak Latvian, I thought this could be a good way for me to help people looking to get a start on learning about their Latvian ancestors.

Have fun! More project launches and updates to come – stay tuned!

97 comments to Latvian Surname Project

  • Chelli

    Great idea Antra! I wish this around when i first started searching!
    Submissions:

    Dzerve = “Crane”, attested in Purmsati Pagast
    Veisbergs = “White Hills”
    Ziverts = Latvianized version of Danish/Norwegian/Swedish “Sieverts”, originally old German first name Siegwarts – Sieg meaning “victory” and wards meaning “guardian” – attested in Nikrace Pagast

  • Chelli

    Ooh, also:
    Melderis = “Miller”
    Zvejs/Zveja = “fish”
    Zvers/Zvera = “beast” (“Bear”?)

  • Zigurd

    Mednieks = “Hunter” From around Liepaja

  • Ilze

    Now it is time for the unveiling of my most ambitious project – the Latvian Record Project!
    That’s right, I’m working on transcribing and indexing all of the Latvian records that I can. I’m starting with Lutheran church records, and will move on to the Latvian portions of the All-Russia Census at some point.

    The only records [...]
    Antra, where is the rest of [...]???????????????

  • Antra

    Ilze,

    Are you looking at the posts in “category” view? That is, the web address is http://www.celmina.com/genealogy/category/somethingelse? If so, then just click on the title of the post and you can view the full post.

  • crex

    Runcis. I have no idea what this surname means and where it’s from.

  • Antra

    crex,

    “Runcis” means “tomcat”. I haven’t seen it anywhere, but I can let you know if I do!

  • crex

    Thnx Antra, no need. I’m not related to Runcis. Stumbled across it in Sweden and just wanted to know what it meant.

  • zrk

    My family name in Sindlin. I don’t know what it means, but I’d love to find out. I know my family immigrated from Dvinsk, Latvia (Or Daugavpils I suppose). Anyway, I’ve also seen similar names like Sidlin, Sidline, Sindelin, Sindelin. We are of jewish descent. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  • Antra

    zrk,

    Sindlin or those similar names are not names I’m familiar with, but I’ll keep an eye out. If it is a Jewish name it is most likely Hebrew, German or Russian in origin, since it was not that common for Jewish people to take Latvian surnames (though it did sometimes happen). The name doesn’t appear in my book of German surnames though. It does however bear a resemblance to the Latvian word “sedliene”, which means “anticline, saddleback, saddle” (according to letonika.lv).

    This book might help you – I have not used it myself, but I think it could have the answers you’re looking for. It appears to be widely available in libraries. There has been a lot of work done out there on Jewish surnames, so those books would have the expertise you’re seeking (most work that I do is with Lutheran records, so I have not had the opportunity to explore other records as much). Good luck!

  • Jurikas: Limbazi (I don’t know what it means)
    Tukums: Limbazi
    Freibergs: Malpils
    Indriksons: Malpils

  • Hey hunny! You should add mine. Kampars. I know that there is a male and a female version. Apparently the female version is Kampare.

    My grandfather was from either in or around Liepaja, as was his family.

  • Inta Jahn (nee Paura)

    My father (Jekabs Paura).He was born on 23 March 1924.the province closest province I have knowledge of is Kalnezeri, Bozzitten, Latvia, he went to school there in 1937. Does anyone know of any Latvians with the surname Paura?

  • Antra

    Hello Inta,

    I’m not familiar with the name “Paura”. I’ve never heard of a place called “Bozzitten” – are you sure that is the correct spelling? I’ve been looking for a “Bozzitten” for the past two days with no results. It is probably the German name for a place in Latvia, could it possibly be “Rositten” or “Rozitten” instead? That would be the German name for Rēzekne.

    Having the farm name, Kalnezeri, is good, since that will help pinpoint a specific place when the region is figured out. In the modern day there seem to be numerous farms called Kalnezeri in Latvia. I’m working on formulating a database of farm names in the inter-war period, so I can let you know if I come across a Kalnezeri while doing so. Best of luck!

  • Carol

    My husbands last name was Saulgozis. Any idea what this names means and perhaps where it’s from. I’m trying to find his family and so far no luck.

    Thank you
    Carol

  • Antra

    Carol,

    Saulgozis is not a name I’m familiar with, unfortunately. I have not seen it anywhere yet. However, the word does mean “sunshine” in Latvian. When did your husband’s family leave Latvia? If they left during or after the Second World War, which is when most Latvians left, their naturalization documents in their new country should say where they were born.

  • Ingrid

    My late father’s surname was Sels, he was born in Leipaja on May 4 1924. I have had no luck with his surname when searching Latvian records, but it does pop up continually in Holland & Belgium. I do know his father had 3 brothers who all married but had no children.
    Also my mother’s grandparents were Albert Alphons Buhgin born in Griwa 5/5/1875 and Berta Natalie Palei born in Zohden 16/8/1882, married in Dubbeln on 30/5/1904. They had 2 children, my grandmother Erna born in Riga 3/5/1905 & Karl born in Riga 7/12/1907.
    I haven’t researched them as yet, as I only just located a church document dated 27/9/1943 with all the above details. The church is Sv. Gertrudes 1. Draudze, and the document is in German. What can you make of this?
    Regards
    Ingrid Hickman

  • Antra

    Ingrid,

    “Sels” is most likely a variant of “Sēlis”. It is likely influenced by the Livonian dialect spoken in parts of Kurzeme (not the part that Liepāja is in, but people/dialect influences move about). “Sēlis” would mean “Selonian person” – the Selonians were one of the Baltic tribes that are the ancestors of modern-day Latvians.

    The rest I will answer via email.

  • Dahrte

    My submissions:

    Scheema (original as in a church record in German), attested in Kaucminde, Bauske parish. It is a surname (maiden) of my grand grand mother. There was also a farm in Kaucminde with that name.
    Tehrsen (original as in a church record in German), attested in Pommusch, Bauske parish. It is a surname of my grand grand father. There was a farm in Pommusch with that name. And still is, my grandmother lives there.

  • Alison

    Hi, My surname is Latvian and not included, please feel free to add – Vizulis = Tinsel, and my father was orginally from Baltinava,

    Regards

    Alison

  • Brenda

    My last name is paura and my family is from gomez palacios Durango. Everyone tells me they’ve never heard of my last name, which got me to wondering where the name comes from. Ur help would be greatly appriciated.

  • Clare

    Hi, my surname is Ozolins (not particularly interesting) however my grandmother’s maiden name was Vinkmanis and we (my family) don’t know as much about her side of the family – she was born in, or near, Jūrmala in 1913. I have a distant memory of a conversation with her when she said her name was Swedish in origin but I don’t know if this is correct or not.

    Thanks for a wonderful site – it’s been so difficult to find Latvian genealogical information, particularly for those of us who are have a Latvian background but don’t speak or read the language.

  • Aleksandrs

    Dear Antra!
    Thanks for yours jobs. My name is Kapusts. My grand father had name Kapusta Benedikt Mitvnevič (born 1847. Akremes saadž. Vīļanu pag.) Serching family roots, I had found a lot of Kapustow in Pland. Whot do you think about this family names?
    Sincerely,
    Aleksandrs.

  • Antra

    Sveiks Aleksandrs!

    Since kāposts/kapust/kapusta/etc. is a word in many Baltic and Slavic languages, I think it is just a coincidence that the name is popular in Poland as well. I have seen Kāposts as a Latvian surname, mostly in northern Vidzeme, and I suspect that Kapusts could be a spelling influenced by Latgalian (“kuopusts” is the equivalent word in Latgalian).

    But I am confused about your grandfather – is Kapusta his first name, or his surname? Is Mitvnevič a patronymic or a surname? I have not seen Kapusta as a first name.

  • Kit

    Hi… My grandparents emigrated to the US from Riga in the 60s. My last name is Balcuns, I did not see this on the list nor have I found very much on it in my research online. Any info would be much appreciated. Thankyou.

  • Ian Marshall

    Hello – I am trying to find the Bergwitz family. At least one whom , Hermann borne Riga 1845 was a sea captain and left Riga around 1870 and settled in Hull Yorkshire, England, marrying a local woman in 1873. They had about 8 children. I am a direct descendant. This appears to be a German name (non Jewish). Have you come across this name – if not do you have any suggestions as to how to find who the family was.
    Thanks
    Ian Marshall

  • Antra

    Kit,

    Balcuns is not a name that I have seen, unfortunately. Did they always live in Rīga? From the ending of the name, I would consider it likely to have origins more in the province of Latgale. Do you have information about your grandparents’ parents? Do you know where in Rīga they lived? There are various places that you could start your search. I would recommend reading my post Getting Started with Latvian Research.

    Ian,

    The best place for you to start would probably be in old church records. Now, Rīga is a large city and has many churches, so this search might take some time. You can view the old church records on Raduraksti. If they were German they were most likely Lutheran, so I would recommend starting with these churches: Rīgas Doma (Cathedral), Rīgas Jēzus, Daugavgrīvas, Rīgas Sv. Trīsvienības, Biķernieku, Rīgas Sv. Jāņa. These were the Rīga and Rīga area churches operational in 1845.

  • Ian Marshall

    Hi – great advice – I found the birth record in 10 minutes under Rigas Doma. There is a lot of information which I’m trying to decipher and understand. Are these records able to be inspected at the church as I’m planning to visit in 2011?

    Thanks very much for your help
    Ian Marshall

  • Deb

    Hello

    Could you please add “Dalbing” (sometimes spelt Dalbin or Dalbinis) from Katlakalna Lutheran Church records.

    Muhrneek can also be found in Katlakalna Lutheran Church records.

    I don’t think this is a traditionally Latvian surname, but I did have Latvian ancestors who had the surname Roske (female) Roska (male).

    Great website! Thanks!

  • Antra

    Ian,

    I’m not sure if you’d be able to view them at the church, but you would at the Latvian State Historical Archives if you specify that you want to see the church books themselves (otherwise they may direct you back to Raduraksti). The Dom is the main cathedral of Rīga, however, and is open to visitors.

    Deb,

    Thank you for your additions!

  • Juris Saulgozis

    My name is Saulgozis and I have very impressive family tree. If you, Carola, is intersted to receive some information concerning Saulgozis, feel free to contact me by a e-mail

  • Eriks Goodwin-Pfister

    My family includes both the Graubics and Augskalns families–alas, I do not see these surnames in the list (yet). I believe that both were somewhere local to Saldus, Latvia.

  • Mart

    to Brenda

    Jurikas: Limbazi (I don’t know what it means) – its Estonian Jurikas correct Juurikas, mean: root, radix, race

    My realtives moved to Latvia in year 1837 to Pernigel/Liepule Sussikas, and they have name Maadna, moving inside Latvia from Sussikas to Neu-Salac to Alt-Salac and to Aloja name was changed from Maadna to Madna and last version was Madne in year 1875, but from Latvian surname list cant find similar name?

  • Mart

    to Ian Marshall

    Hello – I am trying to find the Bergwitz family. – one Bergwiz born on 03.11.1833 Riga Conrad Wilhelm Heinrich Bergwitz Estonian Pärnu Elisabeth church priest, you find hes deth http://www.ra.ee/vau/index.php 16.06.1881 Estonia, Pärnu he was married Marie Helene Frank from Saaremaa and they adopt 2 children (girls) one from my family, more details, send me email

  • Mart

    Estonian churches maked books about family letters, from raduraksti can find only similar books only german people and from saaga can find Documents of rural municipalities, it helps find people after revisjon lists 1858 with all family, but how find family who lived in latvia 1870-1920… any recommendations?

  • Antra

    Eriks,

    Thanks for the additions!

    Mart,

    I am not familiar with the name Maadna. Does it mean something in Estonian? It is not a name I have seen anywhere.

    I am not sure what you mean by church books only with German people on Raduraksti… church books on Raduraksti have Germans, Latvians, Estonians, Russians, etc. The records you are looking at might be written in German, but that doesn’t mean that the people were ethnic Germans. I think I know what you mean by “documents of rural municipalities”, and Latvian records do have those, but they are not scanned onto Raduraksti yet. You would need to go to Rīga and go to the Latvian State Historical Archives to view them.

  • Mart

    Hi Antra,

    Estonian churches maked books about family letters – you: I am not sure what you mean by church books only with German people on Raduraksti… – meen in german language: “Personalishen Buchen”, inside all family by family name.

  • Mart

    question: http://www.mois.ee/english/ are by Latvian manors have to similar website, or simthing like similar?

  • Ian Marshall

    Hello Mart.

    Conrad Bergwitz was borne in the same era as my ancestors. I have traced a number in the Rudaraksti – but I’ve not seen Conrad. I’ve only looked at the Doma records for Riga, so there are other churches to look at.

    Do you have more info – eg his father or a church location There do not seem to be that many Berwgitz names in the record in Riga and all I’ve found so far have been related, so there’s a good chance Conrad is related to my ancestors.

    I am in England.
    Ian

  • Mart

    only that information what here: http://www.geni.com/people/Conrad-Wilhelm-Heinrich-Bergwitz/6000000009362086988 – all can got from Estonian digital chursh documents – SAAGA from Pärnu Elisabeth

  • Bob

    Hello,
    I’m trying to do some research for my daughter’s school project on our family tree and ancestors. Unfortunately I’m coming up with nothing on my surname and was hoping you could shed some light. My last name is ‘Szper’ and my great grandfather was from Latvia, I think from around Daugavpils. I would greatly appreciate if you had anything or could point in the right direction to find some information..

    Thanks .

  • Chris

    Hello,

    is there a latvian surname called:

    Kartinbeck or Kartinbeek ?

    Best regards,
    Chris

  • Chris

    I am looking for a place called “Luhkan mahja” or “Lukan maja” in the town Jaunpils
    Does anyone know what this means?

  • robert cunningham

    Hi,
    My Grandad was named Roberts Ukermarks, married to Anna ??? (I do not know her maiden name) but I do know they came from Valmiera region and from a farm. Grandad had 4 daughters in Rasma, Rudite, Vaida and Ausma. Rasma is living in Toronto and she said that they were moved into Germany during the Russian invasion in 1940 so I know the family was in the Valmiera area until then but I know nothing more especially of the surname and I can not find anything further.

  • Olivia

    добрый день!! У меня сохранилось свидетельство о конфирмации деда в 1892 г , который родился в Умурге 27 сентября 1873 г , я нашла в метрической книге на Raduraksti запись о рождении и крещении Jahn Ohlin . У Вас этой фамилии в мужском роде нет , только Олина , Ола, / яйцо / Подскажите , как искать сестру моего деда Ольгу и сына Адольфа? Кто то сможет сделать мне перевод с латвийского С уважением и благодарностью за Ваш труд. Ольга

  • Wolf Rankis

    I would like to submit the name “Rankis”. I do not know its meaning, but I understand it may be German in origin, and then “Latvianized.” Rankis is found in Riga and Bauska that I am aware of. There are a number of Rankis’ that immigrated to the U.S.A. and Canada at the same time (around 1951), to different places, yet none of whom are apparently related to each other.

  • Mart

    to Chris: maja meen in estonian House Lukan/Luhkan I think from name Lukas, in estonian its meen Lukan house…

  • Mart

    Olivia, kogda etot sestra Olga i syn Adolf rodilis, latviskoja i estonskaja metrika s goda 1890 vsjo ruskom jazyke, tam perevod ne nada, kak sestru naiti, dobav ego rodovomu godu 19 let i s etogo goda nachinai peresmotret brakovoje chast metriki, ja vse svoi rodcviniki tak iskaju, bomagajet ishjo smotret revisjon dokumente, tam vidna jesli ktota kudata druguju mestu pojehal.

  • Britta

    I would like to submit the last name “Seisums”, like Rankis (see above) this is germanic in origin and has been “latvianized,” I also am not sure what the meaning is, and was hoping someone could help me find out.

  • Dre

    Can you add the last name, Meikša, to your project? I have no idea where the surname originates from, and I’d like to know more about its meaning. Thank you.

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