Belarus SIG #Belarus who gets surnames based on city names? #belarus

Herbert Lazerow

Bob Kosovsky questions the proposition that when surnames
were taken, a person often took a surname related to the place where
he was living.
If this theory were true, logic would indicate that a majority of
people >from a
particular town would have that town's name, and smaller amounts would be
called by their priestly status or profession.
Having now observed a number of these taxation lists >from 1795-1818, what I
find striking is the variety of surnames for any town seems to be hardly less
than it would be 100 years later.
All true.
I pondered this for a while some years ago. Then I decided
that there would be no point in taking a surname that designated the
place where you currently lived. It only makes sense if you live
somewhere else. So, for instance, I have records >from Nezhin Ukraine
for 1860-1918. Looking through them, I found no people with the
surname "Nezhinskii", but I found families named "Varshavskii",
"Tarnapolskii", "Moskovskii", Mogilevskii, "Umanskii", and
"Berliner". These were people living in Nezhin at the time, and it
was convenient to label them as Khaim >from Warsaw or Khaim >from
Berlin. This would not have been convenient if they still lived in
Warsaw or Berlin, as there would have been too many Khaims of Warsaw there.
Herbert Lazerow
Visiting Professor 2007-2008, Boalt Hall, University of California Berkeley
Professor and Director, Institute on Int'l and Comparative Law
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego CA 92110-2492
Phone: (619)260-4597
Fax 619-260-2230
E-mail: lazer@...

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