As I’ve mentioned before, most Latvians didn’t have surnames prior to the early 19th century. They were peasants, and until serfdom was abolished, surnames were not a necessity since they were tied to the land. It was only afterwards that surnames became necessary.
But not all Latvians were peasants. Some were merchants, craftsmen and traders, and […]
Welcome back to Surname Saturday on Discovering Latvian Roots!
This week I’m going to talk about compound surnames – that is, a surname formed from two words, rather than one. These are a relative rarity in Latvian surnames when it comes to names of Latvian language origin (German language origin compound surnames are more common when […]
When Latvian peasants were choosing surnames after emancipation from serfdom, they were strongly encouraged by the German and Russian rulers to choose names in their own language, and were forbidden to choose names of local nobles or famous people.
While not all obeyed this directive and chose German names (or had German names assigned to them […]
This edition of Surname Saturday is about the surname Kukurs.
I have chosen this surname for two reasons – a person with this surname in my family tree is currently giving me trouble, and I happened across the definition of this word in my Latvian etymological dictionary while looking for something else.
The root of the word […]
Today I’m featuring one of the new surnames I’ve discovered in my family tree – Radziņš (feminine form Radziņa, the surname of one of my great-great-grandmothers.
Marija Radziņa was born on November 16, 1856. I am not sure yet where she was born, but she married Pēteris Celmiņš sometime before 1878, when their first child was […]