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Created by Administrator Account in 12/23/2009 8:21:44 AM


...My family name is in fact Czeszejko-Sochacki, although I only use Sochacki because of the daunting combination that this presents in the Anglo-Saxon world... Nevertheless, I am aware that the name still exists in Poland having out of curiosity, and to my surprise, generated three pages of responses to it when using the Polski Infoseek Web Crawler (an address for which I obtained from genpol incidentally)... I am therefore interested to know if you could shed any light on the name Czeszejko, or Czeszejko-Sochacki...


This is a fascinating name. Compound surnames are not all that common in Poland, but you're right about yours: as of 1990 there were 501 Polish citizens named Czeszejko, and another 428 named Czeszejko-Sochacki! The latter lived all over Poland, but the only provinces in which more than 20 lived were Elblag (223), Gdansk (37), Gorzow (22), Legnica (23), and Warsaw (33). (Czeszejko, by itself, has a similar distribution pattern). One would suspect the name originated in the Elblag-Gdansk area, on the Baltic in northern Poland, and perhaps those living in other provinces moved from there over the course of time -- but I have no real proof of that, it's only a logical hypothesis... Usually compound surnames in Polish are associated with noble families and consist of the name of a coat of arms plus a family name, as in "Nowina-Sokolnicki," distinguishing the family Sokolnicki who were members of clan Nowina and bore its arms. I am not aware of any clan Czeszejko, but I'm hardly an expert on Polish nobility, and I can't help wondering if there is one. That would explain a lot.


I've already talked about Sochacki in the note you referred to. Czeszejko is a bit of a challenge, because it could come from three roots. The verb root czes- means "to comb (hair), hackle (flax); names in Czesz- also often come from the root czech, meaning (surprise!) "Czech." Also, such names can come from a root Czesz- which derives from the Polish first name Czesław (the ł stands for the Polish slashed L, which sounds like English w). Poles often formed nicknames or by-names by taking the first few sounds of a popular name, dropping the rest, and adding suffixes. So Czeszek, Czeszko, etc. often originated somewhat as "Chet" can be a nickname in English for "Chester" (by the way, Czesław and Chester have nothing to do with each other except a coincidental similarity in sound).


So Czeszejko could have started as a term for someone who did a lot of combing or hackling; as a term for a Czech or descendant of Czechs; or descendants of a fellow with the name Czesław or a nickname from that name. Of the three, I would think the Czesław is the likely link in most cases. But I have no firm information on which to say so definitively. I also have no information as to when and how the names Czeszejko and Sochacki came to be linked in the case of what is, presumably, one family (?). My Polish encyclopedia does mention that there was a Polish labor activist named Jerzy Sochacki-Czeszejko, pseudonym Bratkowski, who lived 1892-1933.


If you're really interested, I recommend contacting the Anthroponymic Workshop of the Polish Language Institute. They don't do genealogical research, just research on name origins, but they may well have some sources that talk about the origin of Czeszejko, maybe even something on the link with Sochacki. They can handle correspondence in English, and usually the charge for researching one or two names is $20 or so.

I'm sorry I couldn't provide definitive information, but perhaps what I've given you will prove useful. If you do write the Workshop and learn anything, I'd be very interested in knowing what they said, so I could add it to the next edition of my book, "Polish Surnames: Origins & Meanings."


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