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Created by Administrator Account in 5/2/2012 2:36:07 PM


… I have been trying to find some information on the surname Hodyl. This was my grandfather's name (Rafal Hodyl) and all we know is that he came from Naliboki, somewhere in Belarus. He was born in 1904, immigrated to US and died 1989 in NY. He married Josefa Adamciewicz, also from that area. I think the area was Poland at the time, since my family claims Polish ancestry. I cannot find any information on this name. Someone once told me that Hodyl may have been the name of a river? or stream? in that area, but it also may have been a Dutch surname...

As of 1990 there were 135 Poles named Hodyl, scattered in numerous provinces all over Poland, with no concentration in any one area; I'm afraid I only have data for Poland in its current boundaries, so anyone living by this name still living in Belarus would not show up. And there have been sizable numbers of Poles living in Belarus for centuries now -- Belarus was long part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, so it's quite credible that people living there could be of Polish ancestry.

None of my sources mention anything about this specific name's derivation. A number of names beginning with Hod- and Chod- (in Polish h and ch are pronounced exactly the same, kind of like the guttural ch in German "Bach") are given as deriving from the root chod-, "to walk, go," and this same root is used in Russian and Ukrainian (in Belarusian it appears with an a sound rather than an o); among these names are Chodyła, which would mean something like "the guy who likes to walk, who's always walking." It is quite plausible that Hodyl is more or less the same thing, although as I say, none of my sources say so specifically.

If Hodyl is the name of a river or stream, I can't find it on any of my maps. But often surnames did come from names of little streams -- sort of a verbal shorthand meaning the family lived near the stream -- and there certainly could be such a stream that wouldn't show up on my maps (which are not too detailed). Naliboki (now Nalibaki in Belarus) is on a river named Lebiezada, about 110 km. from Oszmiana (now Asmiany in Belarus) and 160 km. from Wilno (now Vilnius in Lithuania).

It's interesting that there is a village called Hadzilivichy in Belarus, also called Hadzilowicze and Hodzilowicze by the Poles, about which a late 19th-century Polish gazetteer says this:

"Hadzilowiczevillage, Rohaczew county, on the Warsaw-Moscow highway, not far from Rohaczew and Dowsk, 300 Orthodox males. School, brick Orthodox church."

I mention this because the Hadzilov- form is Belarusian, but Poles would call it Hodzilowicze and Ukrainians would call it Hodylowicze -- and the name means "[place of] the sons of Hodyl." In other words, if you factor in each language's phonetic tendencies, this village name comes from more or less the same root as your surname. That doesn't mean the two are related in any way, but it's at least interesting. This village is just a few km. east of Rohaczew, as the Poles call it, or Ragachev, as the Belarusians call it.

As for a Dutch connection -- well, it's possible. A lot of Dutch and Germans were invited to come settle in sparsely-populated areas of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as farmers and skilled craftsmen they were highly desirable colonists. So I can't rule out a Dutch origin. But let's just say this: the name makes perfect sense in a Slavic context, there's certainly no reason to assume there had to be a Dutch connection. But we can't rule it out.

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