Category:Latvian surnames by origin

From Latvian Surname Project
Jump to: navigation, search

Names held by ethnic Latvians come from a number of different cultural origins. The three main origins are Latvian, Slavic and Germanic.

When Latvians were freed from serfdom in the 19th century, they were able to choose surnames. Officially, they were encouraged to choose Latvian words as surnames, and many did. Thus this category has the largest number of entries on this website.

In order to try to raise their social standing, many Latvians chose Slavic or Germanic surnames. This does not mean that they were themselves of Slavic or Germanic origins.

A less common source of surnames for Latvians also comes from Finnic - in this case, Livonian or Estonian. Livonians and Estonians were also peasants, so it is likely that many of these names in Latvian territory are indicative of Livonian or Estonian origins. Livonians are a minority group within Latvia, and Estonians live directly to the north. Estonian migration into Latvian territory was not uncommon prior to the 20th century, when northern Latvia and southern Estonia were part of the same Imperial Russian province (Livland).

Eastern Latvia - the province of Latgale - has a separate history from most of Latvia, and as a result a different dialect and different naming traditions. Latgalian surnames also get their own category.