Naming Conventions: Russian Empire and Tsardom of Rus

Started by Erica Howton on Thursday, January 6, 2011
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1/6/2011 at 7:52 AM

Would someone be kind enough to provide the naming conventions for The Tsars of Russia (1547-1721) and the Russian Empire (1721-1917), including nobility? Language order and display also needed and valid citation data to back up the proposal.

Available fields:

First Name
Middle Name
Last Name
Maiden Name
Display Name
Nickname [to be relabeled 'also known as']
Birth name [to be added; use in "about me" in the meantime]
Prefix [to be added; use in "about me" in the meantime]

1/6/2011 at 10:25 AM

Russian naming conventions, from a historical point of view, are difficult. There is quite a blur as to what the rules are and when they were applied. Plus there are always exceptions.

In general:

The first name is the given name, Christian or Russian. If the first name is Russian they will be given a Christian name when baptized, and that may replace the Russian given name.

The middle name would be a patronymic the male version meaning son of (adding in, yn, ov, ev) and the female versions meaning daughter of (adding ina, yna, ova, ovna, eva, evna). The ending vich was common among the upper classes with restrictions, and varies by location.

The middle names could also be a metronymic, based on the mother's name. Versions also exsist for grandparents. Also middle names could be formed from an occupation as opposed to a parent's name.

Historically the given and the patronymic were the only names used up until modern times.

As time went by, the patronymic evolved into a last name. The uses of this varies greatly, not becoming the standard until more recently.

Titles were, for the most part, a foreign concept and when used are usually derived from foreign words. Tsar meaning Caesar, etc.

The most important rule is that there are exceptions to all the rules. For the most part, people we remember from history, we remember by a certain name although, in reality, they may have been known by any of a number of a mixture of names.

Here is a link to an excellent, more detailed explanation:

1/6/2011 at 10:33 AM

BTW, I having been doing a lot of work in the Russian part of the tree, and I have been using the first and patronymic in English and in Russian. Followed by title in the suffix field, and the name they are most known by in the display field, in English. Last name I am using only with the more recent profiles. I do not see a use for the maiden name field. In the nickname field I am trying to list all versions of the name..

I am always open to corrections and suggestions.

1/6/2011 at 10:36 AM

For the Wiki, would you be able to list out a couple of examples using the field names in the order posted?

For example, how would you represent in Geni, field by field, the names Maxim Gorky, Ivan "The Terrible," and Empress Catherine ll?

1/6/2011 at 12:30 PM

Maxim Gorky:
Aleksei Maximovich Peshkov Gorky is actually a pseudonym meaning "bitter".
First Name: Aleksei / Алексей
Middle Name: Maximovich / Максимович
Last Name: Peshkov / Пешков
Maiden Name: Blank
Display Name: Maxim Gorky
Suffix: Blank
Nickname: Aleksei Maximovich Peshkov, Алексей Максимович Пешков, Maxim Gorky, Bitter
Birth name: Алексей Максимович Пешков
Title: Blank
Prefix: Blank

Ivan "The Terrible":
First Name: Ivan IV / Иван IV
Middle Name: Blank
Last Name: Vasilyevich / Васи́льевич​
Maiden Name: Blank
Display Name: Ivan IV of Russia
Suffix: Blank
Nickname: Ivan the Terrible, Ива́н Четвёртый, Ivan Groznyi, Ива́н Грозный
Birth name: Ива́н Васи́льевич​
Title: Ivan IV Vasilyevich Grand Prince of Moscow
Prefix: Blank

Empress Catherine ll:
First Name: Catherine II / Екатерина II
Middle Name: Blank
Last Name Blank
Maiden Name: Blank
Display Name: Empress Catherine II of Russia
Suffix: Empress of Russia
Nickname: Catherine the Great, Екатерина Великая, Katharina die Große, Sophia Augusta Frederica of Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, Figchen, Little Frederica
Birth name: Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg
Title: Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Catherine Alekseievna of Russia, Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of all the Russias, Her Imperial Majesty The Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias
Prefix: Blank

Also it would be wonderful if we had a field for "Royal House" or "Dynasty", people keep trying to insert this information into the name fields.

Private User
1/6/2011 at 12:49 PM

I prefer using the display name for English, if warranted. In most cases though, I think it just belongs in the Nickname/AKA field.

1/6/2011 at 12:52 PM

I agree with you Ben. I hope I don't sound too ethnocentric when I say English tends to be the most internationally recognized language, so the display field, being in English, will have the broadest appeal.

1/6/2011 at 12:53 PM

Sorry...Victor...not Ben. : ) My head is all over the place this morning.

1/7/2011 at 10:13 AM


Those were fantastic examples. It made it much clearer to me.

- Gorky is someone who took on a "pen name" so I could see how that worked.

- Catherine the Great is multiple languages, titles and nicknames. The way you show it makes sense finally!

- I like the idea of using English in the Display Name, as that is the common language for most. This way we make an ancestor searchable yet we're also historically accurate.

Well done.

Can we update the Wiki?

What should we name the section? It doesn't sound like there are big changes from medieval times or do we need to do something separate for earlier Russian history?

1/7/2011 at 10:21 AM

I like the name "Dynasty." Or better yet, a free text field so can be historically specific (i.e., Clan of .... Dynasty .... House of ...)

Sounds we need to ask to ask Geni for this field. Where should it be located?

1/7/2011 at 10:49 AM

I don't think there is a requirement to separate the different historical periods in the section name. I think "Russian naming conventions" will encompass all periods.

Good idea making a free text field, it will be more accurate this way. It does not need to be prominent, maybe somewhere below Statistics.

3/4/2011 at 8:24 AM

Dear friends.
I have one little note to the translation of Russian surnames, for example, Aleksey Maksymovich Pieshko (Алексей Максимович Пешко). Please note that in the case of two-part Russian surnames for the person's own name entered is not her middle name, but the first part of the surname formed from the name of her father, mentioned before the appropriate name, which is usually the name of the father. Thus, Aleksey Maksymovich (Алексей Максимович) means that about Alexey (Алексей) , son of Maximus Pieszko (Максим Пешко) . Feminine form of that section the surname are: Maksymovna (Максимовна) . It is therefore a form corresponding to the Anglo-Saxon surnames Johnson = John's son, Erickson = Ericks's son, etc. However, it often occurs as a proper surname
But there is another company surnames derived from proper names, for example Maksymov (Максимов) Fyodorov (Федоров) , Pavlov (Павлов) , etc.. In this form, these the surname appear only as a proper the surname and if they are strictly equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon surnames: Jonson. Erickson, etc.. feminine form of the the surname will be: Maksymova (Максимова), Fyodorova (Федорова), Pawlova (Павлова) etc..
Andrew Olejarz -
Silesian Genealogical Association.
Wroclaw, Poland

11/28/2012 at 6:59 PM

What is the convention for handling royal/noble titles with a string of words and place names afterwards? Should they be put in the suffix field, one of the name fields, together with one of the given names or separate?

Or should they just be put in the AKA field, or noted in the About section?

>So let's say we have Antonia Natalia Deersky, Baroness of Neverland and Opryland, and she's generally called Toni (Yeah, I know these aren't Russian names; I'm too tired to make any up). What should go where?

Does any of this change if the title given is given in German and the person has been living outside of Russia, but it's a Russian nobility title?

12/2/2012 at 7:38 PM

I Wendy, I can only speak for myself, but what I do is put these in the "Display Name" section, as well as the "About" section. I believe that putting them in the display line will make it searchable.

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