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Balkiewicz - Bobrowski - Grunwalski
Created by Administrator Account in 5/2/2012 2:07:10 PM

 


… Thank you for posting your interesting, informative information on Polish surnames. I'm trying to find more about mine--Balkiewicz, and also those of my maternal grandparents--Grunwalski and Bobrowski.

The suffix -ewicz means "son of," so Balkiewicz means "son of Balek, Balka, or Balko." This first name could develop in several ways, as a short form of Baltazar (by tradition the name of one of the Three Kings or Magi), from the Hungarian first name Bal, or from the Polish root bal- meaning "to tell tales." As of 1990 there were some 270 Polish citizens named Balkiewicz, scattered in many different provinces, with the largest numbers in the provinces of Elbląg (60), Gdańsk (25), Łódź (20), Olsztyn (20), and Ostrołęka (26) -- all in northern Poland, in what used to be Prussia. (I'm afraid I have no access to further details such as first names and addresses).

Names ending in -owski usually refer to a connection between a person or family and a place with a similar name; we'd expect Bobrowski to have started out meaning "person from Bobrow, Bobrowo, Bobry," etc. Those places, in tern, got their names from the root bóbr, "beaver." In effect, Bobrowski means "one from the place of the beavers." There are quite a few villages named Bobra, Bobry, Bobrowo, etc., so the name itself doesn't tell us which a given Bobrowski family was connected with. As of 1990 there were 5,874 Polish citizens named Bobrowski, so it's a pretty common name and probably developed independently in many different areas.

Grunwalski is surely an adjective meaning "of, from Grunwald." This is a German name meaning "green forest," and there are several places in Poland that are or have been called by that name (especially when western and northern Poland was ruled by Germany). The most famous Grunwald was the site of a battle in 1410 in which Polish and Lithuanian forces defeated the Teutonic Knights, a major event in the history of Poland. As of 1990 there were only 7 Grunwalski's in Poland, 6 in Katowice province and 1 in Opole province, so it's a pretty rare name -- but 1,269 Poles were named Grunwald!

Copyright © 2000 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.

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