Friday, March 4, 2011

More of What's Your Family All About

Last time I wrote about family and how last names tie us together as family.  Family, in the standard sense, is those with whom we grow up with and around. But, family is also those we find lurking in the family tree. In my tree I have Irish, Welsh, Norwegian, French, English, and German ancestors, just to name a few nationalities.

It has always been of interest to me what last names mean or the origin for last names.  In my last posting, I looked at some of the Irish and Welsh names. So, here is what I found in the French, English, and German “family” names.

  • Bourque—is French. The original spelling was Bourrique “probably a derivative of bourre ‘tawny’, ‘fawn’ (from Latin burrus), hence denoting a man with tawny hair.”
  • Campion—is French for professional champion.  This last name was probably introduced by the Normans to England.
  • Dickman—English, Dutch, German—take your choice.  If your background is Dutch or German, this name is an occupational name for someone who dug ditches or it is a locational name for someone who lived near or next to a ditch or a dyke. For the English, the name refers to a servant.  Ancestry
  • Forster—is considered to be an English and French name with the French version being Forester which evolved into Forster and Foster in England.  The original meaning behind the name is that a person with this name was one who was in charge of a forest, or one who lived near a forest, or one who was in charge of growing timber.  However, F`rster is also a German name for one who lives in or near a forest.
  • Gaskill—specifically comes from Lancashire, England; and, specifically in Cumbria it refers to where one lived:  near a goat shelter (Old Norse geit ‘goat’ + skáli ‘shelter’).
  • Hanks—is considered to be a short form of the name Hank; specifically, a patronymic for the name Hankin.  The use of a patronymic is basically being named after one’s father; i.e., Johnson (for John’s son).  Thus, Hanks is a short form for Hankin’s son.  Sources identified that this name comes specifically from Gloucestershire, England.
  • Menard—is a French name meaning “brave or hard strength.”
  • Perkins—in both the English and Dutch backgrounds, this name is considered to by a patronymic of Perkin.  And, Perkin is considered to be a “pet name” for Peter.
For those of you who are interested in pursuing this further, the information above comes from,,, and

The below photo is of Lena and Theodore Forster who were married on April 18, 1897.  They are my husband's great aunt and uncle.  They had seven children--all born in Minnesota.

© Linda Oliver, 2017

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