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Jaks - Joks
Created by Administrator Account in 2/7/2010 3:01:10 PM


...I have an ancestor with the last name Jaks/Joks. Is there some connection with Jaktor/Hektor? The first entries of this name appear in the register of the catholic church in the village Mikstat in the province Kalisz (formerly province Poznan) in 1803. I searched for this name in registers of several surrounding catholic, Jewish and Lutheran parishes. I could not find any references before 1803.

Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut mentions Jaks in his book on Polish surnames, saying that it derives from short forms or nicknames of the first names Jakub (Jacob) and Jakim (Joachim) -- possibly others, too, but those would be the main ones. Another expert, Maria Malec, lists it among the derivatives of Jakub. So in most cases I would expect Jaks to be a short form of Jakub; in an individual case it might derive from the name Jaktor/Hektor, but those names are a lot less common in Poland than Jakub, so odds are Jakub (or Jakim) is the connection in question. One problem with this name is that it probably was, originally, just a nickname, and a halfway common one at that; with nicknames that became frozen as surnames, you can only go so far back before you don't know whether the name should be treated as a nickname or surname.

It's interesting that there's a work called the Dictionary of Old Polish Personal Names [Slownik staropolskich nazw osobowych], a collection by scholars of the first few appearances of names in old documents. Jaks is mentioned briefly in a 1485 entry in the Poznan Council Records ("Iakx, cerdo ruff[us])", and again in 1486. There are numerous citations of the name Jaksa/Jaksza/Jaxa. So these are old names. However, Jaks is probably common enough that you shouldn't jump to the conclusion this fello was an ancestor of yours -- I just wanted to show you that the name has been around a while!

Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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