This article was developed to support the Brimberry family history article. It is designed, however, to have broader utility.


The use of patronymics[edit | edit source]

A 'patronymic' is a form of surname that is (usually) derived from the name of a person's father.

For example, if Gustaf Manson had a son named "Johan", he would be known as "Johan Gustafs son", or as more commonly written "Johan Gustafsson". If Gustaf had a daughter named "Brita" she would be known as "Brita Gustaf's dotter" or simply "Brita Gustafsdotter".

If Brita Gustafsdotter married she would not adopt her husband's patronymic, but would continue to use what today would be called her "maiden name", "Brita Gustafsdotter". If her husband's name were "Swen Langson" (Swen son of Lang), then her son Johan would be known "Johan Swensson", and her daughter Kerstin as "Kerstin Swensdotter". If Brita did not actually marry Swen Langson, then her children could still use the patronymic derived from his given name, but might also use a matronymic derived from their mother's name. In the latter case, they would be known as "Johan Britasson", and "Kirsten Britasdotter".

From the Wikipedia:

In Western Europe, the patronymic was formerly widespread, but latterly confined to the Nordic and Scandinavian peoples in the north west.
In Nordic languages, the patronymic was formed by using the ending -son (later -sen in Danish and Norwegian) to indicate "son of", and -dotter (Icelandic -dóttir, Danish -datter) for "daughter of". In Iceland, patronymics are in fact compulsory by law, with a handful of exceptions ("Halldór Laxness" for example was the pen name of "Halldór Guðjónsson"). This name was generally used as a last name although a third name, a so-called byname based on location or personal characteristic, was often added to differentiate people. The use of Scandinavian-style patronymics, particularly in its Danish variation with the ending -sen, was also widespread in northern Germany. This reflects the strong influence of Scandinavia in this part of Germany during the centuries.

Other types of surnames[edit | edit source]

Not everyone used the patronymic naming system. There are several other broad categories of surnames in use, usually linked to a person's social position or to a trade or profession. Four main types might be mentioned, each of which had their own rules for formation.

Scholars and Ministers

Adoption of Family Names in Sweden[edit | edit source]

During the late 18th and early 19th century the use of "family" names began to replace the use of patronymics. The primary distinction between the two classes of surnames was that in the latter case the surname was "fixed", and passed down from father to child. Thus "Johan son of Sven Mansson" might be known as "Johan Mansson", and his own son Lang as "Lang Mansson.

Not all family names adopted at this time were derived from patronymics, as in the foregoing examples. Names based on tponymics, trade names, noble family names, and scholarly names also came into common use. In any case, the use of patronymics was abolished by law in 1901. Those who had not already done so were required to adopt a family name.

Naming practices for given names[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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