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Created by Administrator Account in 3/6/2012 3:19:54 PM


… I read your article on Polish surnames on the Net. I wonder if could you please help me ? I was born with the surname "Komornicki." I was adopted at birth and have had no contact with my natural family so I have not had the luxury of a family and family connections to find out information on my birth name.

Komornicki is an adjectival form (like all surnames ending in -ski or -cki), referring to the noun komornik and meaning "of, from, pertaining to a komornik," or else deriving from place names such as Komornik or Komorniki, which in turn began as meaning something like "place of the komornik." So the key here is, what does komornik mean?

It's rather frustrating that there are two different meanings for this word. One kind of komornik is usually translated "bailiff," and referred to an official of local courts, a kind of sheriff's officer; when applied to a nobleman, it was a functionary at the king's court. This kind of komornik was obviously a person of some status.

The other kind of komornik -- and by far the more common usage of the word -- is often translated "tenant," and referred to a person who did not own a house of his/her own, but rather lived as a boarder with someone else. This might be a poor person, but very often it was an older, retired person who had raised a family, passed the management of the family farm on to the kids, and gone to live with someone else so as not to be in the way.

The surname Komornicki probably started as a name for children or kin of a komornik -- sometimes the official, sometimes the boarder -- or else as name for someone who came from a village called Komornik or Komorniki. Since the boarder variety of komornik was probably much more numerous than the official variety of komornik, we have to suppose the surname refers more often to the boarders than the officials. But without detailed research into a particular Komornicki family's past, there'd be no way to know.

As of 1990 there were 569 Polish citizens named Komornicki; as Polish names go, that means it's not all that common, but obviously not rare either. The 10-volume work that gives that data also shows the distribution by province (but no further details such as first names and addresses), and I'm afraid this name is not concentrated in any one part of the country, at least not to any extent that would provide a useful lead. The largest numbers were in the provinces of Warsaw (96), Katowice (65), Legnica (65), and Wroclaw; the latter three are in southwest and southcentral Poland, so it appears that's the area in which the name is somewhat more common. But you find Komornicki's in all parts of the country, so without details on your specific family, I'm afraid that data isn't much help.

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



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