When did South Africans Begin to use Married Names? - Help us research

Started by Sharon Lee Doubell on Sunday, April 17, 2011


Showing all 14 posts
Private User
4/17/2011 at 5:10 AM

'Dr. Petar Šimunović also underlines the fact that the Croats were the first Slavic nation to carry surnames. The actual use of surnames among Croats is believed to have evolved during feudal times, starting from the 12th century, mainly in those noble families wishing to preserve their rights of inheritance or their place in town councils.

Of course, the use of surnames became more commonplace after the Trident Council of 1545-63 concluded in Rome. One of the more important decisions during this time obligated all Roman Catholic parish priests to keep registers of their parish; the register was to be kept with both the first and last names of all parishioners. This form of record keeping was deemed necessary for the church to put an end to unlawful marriages as well as other forms of deception.'

Trident Council applies to all Roman catholic parishes

4/17/2011 at 7:26 AM

My family tree is *not* very built out on my Jewish side but was curious as to "custom" for my (theoretical alas to date) Jewish South African cousins.

So I did a quick google:


You actually have two or three routes and waves of migration I think!

- The early patterns of Jewish South African history are almost identical with the history of the Jews in the United States but on a much smaller scale, including the period of early discovery and settlement from the late 15th century to the early 19th century.

more specifically for SA:

- Portuguese exploration

The modern Jewish history of South Africa began, indirectly, some time before the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, by the participation of certain astronomers and cartographers in the Portuguese discovery of the sea-route to India. There were Jews among the directors of the Dutch East India Company, which for 150 years administered the colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Jewish cartographers in Portugal, members of the wealthy and influential classes, assisted Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama who first sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 and 1497. Portugal's baptised Jews were still free until the Portuguese Inquisition was promulgated in 1536.

.... therefore, as in the Americas, the "earliest Jewish settlers" of SA would be of Portuguese / Sephardic Jewish & Converso / Ladino speaking origin. In theory anyway they would follow those marriage and naming patterns.

- The Dutch Settlement

In 1652 the Dutch began the first permanent European settlement of South Africa under Jan van Riebeeck as a representative of the Dutch East India Company. It has been noted that:

A number of non-professing Jews were among the first settlers of Cape Town in 1652, despite restrictions against the immigration of non-Christians. Religious freedom was granted by the Dutch colony in 1803.[3]

[3] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/South_Africa.html

... therefore, look for studies and students of Dutch Jewish culture and customs (a big topic in and of itself!)

I do recall a childhood friend in New York - a Dreyfus - whose father's family had an extensive South African branch. It was the diamond trade. The family "culture" seemed, to my childhood eye, sophisticated and European.

The 1820s through 1880s

Jews did not arrive in any numbers at Cape Town before the 1820s .... The South African gold rush began after 1886, attracting many Jews fleeing Russian pogroms in the Lithuanian province of the Russian Empire.

... now you're into an era and an origin where many Americans of Jewish background may be able to help to some extent. I would be curious as to why some chose for instance to go to New York, and some chose obviously to go to Johannesburg.

Hope this adds some value for you and eager to learn myself.

Cheers from New York City

4/17/2011 at 12:57 PM

Erica Howton Have moved your information temporarily to David Prins' project on migrations from Spain after 1492. http://www.geni.com/projects/Sephardic-Families-Who-Settled-in-Euro...

This is a good temporary holder till we get enough information to start an individual project.

Private User
4/17/2011 at 3:02 PM

I am not sure how relevant this is to the South African discussion - but I am sure there is much that could be said about when Dutch Jewry began to use married names.

Certainly patronymic names prevailed for a long time, and there are places where you can see a transition to using surnames even for males. It is sometimes a challenge to match records for males where one set of records uses patronymic names and the other uses surnames. Religious records are often used as primary sources (be that church or synagogue or other), and today in Judaism we are still referring to people by some mix of the person's name, a parent's name, and a surname.

There are others I can probably bring into this discussion if that might be helpful on Dutch Jewry's use of married names - both Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Is this of relevance here?

4/20/2011 at 3:56 PM

An interesting article was sent to me which I think is relevant to this discussion. It appeared in "Die Burger" 06/01/2004 on page 14. It was written by Professor Andreas Van Wyk, former rector the Stellenbosch University. I will translate some parts of the article:

According to our Roman-Dutch Common Law in S.A., the law makes allowance for people to arrange matters to what they concider the right thing to do. A good example is the choices it allows for the individual's surname at registering a child.

In South Africa the choice of surname has traditionally been limited to whether children was born in or out of wedlock. In marriage the child received the father's surname, out of wedlock, the mother's surname.

Later change of surname is not impossible though a motivated appeal has to be made to the Dept. of Home Affairs. The name change has to be proclaimed in the Government Gazette. In some cases this is not necessary as with the occasion of people getting married. The western tradition has it that at marriage a woman accepts her husband's name and the way to do it is by handing in the marriage certificate at the Dept. Home Affairs. This is not compulsory and has already been accepted by the courts.

If a married woman should decide for proffesional or other reasons to continue using her married name, she is free to do so. Another example is where an ancestor's will requires that only descendants of familynames can inherit. Thus a married woman can ensure her inheritance by not accepting her husband's surname.

Untill the Napoleonic-law-Codification in 1804 with it's application thereof in countries conquered by Napoleon, familynames were unheard of in many parts of Europe. In order to make a distinction between 2 persons with the same name "Jan", one might be called "Jan Petersen" (son of Peter) and the other "Jan van Wyk" (after the town he came from).

The French rule in the Netherlands for the first time introduced a population register with compulsory registration of personal details. Since then everyone had a surname and later changes made virtually impossible.

The 19th century's cultural nasionalism even limited the choice of surnames. In France people were only allowed to give their children Biblical or historical names and then only in the French form which angered the Breton-people's nasionalism.

Under Mussolini in the German-speaking Tirolers, Nothe East Italy was also compelled to use the Italian form of names such as Gulielmo instead of Wilhelm.

The contemporary principle of equality of the sexes complicated namegiving even more. In 1976 the Germans was the first of various European countries to make new laws in connextion with this matter. France was the most recent to accept new legislation in this respect.

According to a law being applied since 1st January 2005, the parents of a newborn (in or out of wedlock) decides what the child's surname will be. They can choose whether the father's name will be used or a combination of the parent's surnames. If they decide on the last option, they also have to indicate the sequence of the surnames.

The "Le Monde" in Paris gave the following example on 23 December 2004:
"Mr. Deschamps & Mrs. Dubois' Child of Deschamps is called either "Dubois", or "Dubois-Deschamps" or "Deschamps-Dubois".

To keep the coherence of the family-unit as such, all the following children of this couple was required to carry the same surname.

Complications could thus arise in future should 2 carriers if coupled names get married and have a child. To prevent quadrupled surnames, the French law prohibits this and requires the parents to choose one each of their parent's names for the resultant combination of 2 names only.

Our South African Law on the registration of births & deaths since 2002 allows the registration of a newborn under the familyname of either the father or mother. In this respect there has so far not been complete equality of the sexes in South Africa.

If Piet Smit in his marriage to Sarie Koekemoer wants rather to be known as Koekemoer, he has to make official application for the changing of his name. His wife Sarie Koekemoer, however can become Smit without such an official request.

At the time of writing, Professor Van Wyk speculated that further legislation in this country could be just a matter of time.

4/20/2011 at 6:01 PM

This was fascinating. Thank you so much for your efforts on it. I was thinking that maybe you / someone to help should save off the post as a PDF file and upload it to "project document repository."

The Napoleonic-law-Codification in 1804 is something that can be looked into further also, especially how it affected different countries and customs over time.

4/21/2011 at 2:35 AM

Hi Erica, I could use some help and have no idea how to do this. I am still finding my way around all the Geni-settings. I most likely will never be a computer expert either because I grew up in a different era. However the fact that I got this far, I consider close to a miracle. It must be because Geni is such a user-friendly programme.

<private> Preller
5/3/2011 at 2:53 AM

Married names are not reflected in any church registers or any documents until roughty 1860. I've consulted a few now from Bloemfontein and Soutpansberg. Here are a few sampe transcriptions from the Dufch Reformed Church:

Oud = Parents & Get: = Witnesses

Parents and Witnesses are all listed by their birth names:

P 2
14 Susanna Christina 20 Nov 1845
Oud: Georg Christoffel WOLHUTER en
Get: Jacobus Johannes POTGIETER en
Hester Catharina BOTHA
16 Pieter Johannes geb 31 Dec 1851
Oud: Pieter Johannes POTGIETER en
Elsje Maria Aletta VAN HEERDEN
Get: Daniel J L H ? DUPREEZ en
Hester Susanna Catharina El VAN HEERDEN
Petrus Johannes VAN STAADEN en
Jacomina Dorothea SWANEPOEL
17 Petronella Margaretha Christina geb 19 Sept 1849
Oud: Jan Valentyn BOTHA
Petronella Magdalena BOTHA
Get: Pieter Johannes POTGIETER en
Elsje Maria Aletta VAN HEERDEN
Hermanus Jacobus POTGIETER en
Johanna Magdalena Elis ROOS

The first occurance of a married name is in 1859 when a witness presumably Portugese or Italian maybe is recorded as follows:

329 Francois Johannes geb 13 Januarÿ 1856
Oud: Jacobus Arnoldus Francois LOTTERING
De moeder is overleden
Anna Catarina Elisabetta Susanna SWANEPOEL
Get: Gertina Petronella ALBACINI. geb JANSE VAN RENSBURG (doopmoeder)
Hendrik Christoffel JANSE VAN RENSBURG (doopvader)

In 1864 they are introduced as follows:

503 George Andries geb 2 April 1864
Ouders: George Andries ROTH
Johanna Christina Elizabetha ROTH /JANTZEN
Get: George Andries ROTH – weduwenaar
Suzanna Georgelina Maria BOTHA / MARNITZ
Jonkheer Regenald Alphonsus VAN NIKERK
Jacoba Magdalena NUNUS / MARNITZ

5/4/2011 at 10:07 AM

How do we stop two appreciated Geni friends to destroy each other??!!

Private User
5/4/2011 at 12:28 PM

I don't think anyone can say anything Daan - Mau isn't listening and Sharon is feeling desperate. Until Geni takes the matter in hand this will just continue rumbling on with them both just continuing to provoke each other. The only people who can really put an end to it is them but the longer it goes on the harder that is going to be. This is now another discussion that I will stop following because no headway is being made and I am sick to death of it. The same things are being said over and over again and it is a stale mate. Mau - listen to what people are asking you to do - hold off until a decision is made. Just stop!

5/4/2011 at 12:35 PM

"If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness." (Nelson Mandela) . . . Nothing is impossible in South Africa as there is also world famous wine to help facilitate a meeting of the minds.

Private User
5/4/2011 at 12:57 PM

I wonder whether now is the time for Mau and Sharon to continue this discussion on a private level - and not involve everyone else? Very few people are taking part in this - it is basically a slanging match between the two of you - everyone has given their opinions so this public display is no longer for the participation of others - so do it privately - then whatever you say is between the two of you and not going to be influenced by what you may think others will think, support etc. etc. etc.

Or just stop? You are never going to agree so agree to differ.

5/4/2011 at 1:07 PM

The good wine is certainly available - just come and fetch it here in Still Bay!!

5/4/2011 at 6:49 PM

Ja stem saam met June, Mau en Sharon is besig om hulself geen guns te doen nie en ons het hierdie nie nodig nie.

Showing all 14 posts

Create a free account or login to participate in this discussion