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> Surnames, Does it really reveal your heritage?
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DesertRose 
Posted: 25-Jan-2004, 01:31 AM
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I have wondered this for a time. I have a great-grandmother who is a Carleton (English surname) and yet she was born and raised in Ireland. Does that make her Irish or English in ancestry? I also have great-grandmothers with the surnames of Suit, Walker, Blackstock, Ellerson/Allison which are Scottish in origin. Does that really make them Scottish in ancestry? may be a stupid question but I really want to know. unsure.gif


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Mailagnas maqqas Dunaidonas 
Posted: 25-Jan-2004, 09:06 AM
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Judging from the research I've done on my own lineage, and from what study of Celtic history I've done, surnames alone don't necessarily mean much. Some families and clans, Clan Donald being a good example, had holdings on both sides of the Irish Sea. I have a Ware line that is clearly English, but one of the Wares was the mayor of Dublin, and the family had Irish holdings. Whether I consider the line to be English or Irish probably depends more on what I want it to be than anything else.
Whether anyone else would agree with me is another question entirely. angel_not.gif


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Catriona 
Posted: 25-Jan-2004, 09:32 AM
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There are lots of people living in Scotland today who have English, Welsh and Irish names. And some of them have lived in Scotland for a couple of hundred years.

If they were born, educated and brought up in Scotland, then I would argue that they are Scottish,but maybe of 'English' or'Welsh' or wherever ancestry.

The same with Americans. Born in the USA (of parents who emigrated and have no intention of returning to their native country!) - any children should surely consider themselves Americans of '......' (fill in the blank) ancestry?

We have a lot of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the 'old' British Commonwealth. They have married, and started families in Scotland, Wales, England. They have no intention of returning to say, Zimbabwe... their children are British citizens (as are the parents, in many cases, although they may be dual nationality). I consider this makes them 'Scots', or 'Irish' or 'Welsh'.... but with an interesting twist! biggrin.gif

It is really amazing that there is so much soul searching that goes on in the US about 'roots' etc. It just doesn't seem to be of such importance to us here. And that seems to be true of many of the immigrants, not just the mainline Scots of Scots ancestry.

I had friends at school who bore names like Leneghan, O'Donnel, O'Hanlon. BUT there families had immigrated from Ireland to Scotland way back in the 1800s. They don't consider themselves anything but Scottish.
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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 25-Jan-2004, 02:40 PM
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well, my surname definitly doesn't ... biggrin.gif I have a peasants surname nothing very grand... and my surname says nothing about my family's history.

Having a surname that can be traced is a very nice thing but I don't think it will reveal your heritage because the history written in all of the tartan books does not reveal how your family might have gotten the surname...


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DesertRose 
Posted: 26-Jan-2004, 02:45 AM
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Thanks Mike, Cat and Aon! That helps a lot. smile.gif

Cat, it is true that it is important to the people here in the US to do a lot of "soul searching,"...... finding their ancestors and who and where they came from because all of our ancestors came from outside of America and we want to know our history and lineage. It is important to us. Must seem funny to the British since we American's fought so hard in the 18th century to break free from British rule and yet you have this generation trying so hard to find out who our British ancestors were! biggrin.gif Well I am also half Sicilian and I am even researching my ancestors from there as well! What a shock that has been! I may be of Greek ancestry instead! laugh.gif I, myself, love history and the further back I can get in learning about my family, the more interesting it becomes.

However, all these surnames of our past ancestors I have to wonder cause I am too, like you Mailagnus, finding ancestors in Ireland with English surnames. One family were English but moved to Ireland, especially Dublin and settled there! Wow! So I have really learned a lot and it can get very confusing and you wonder what to call your ancestry. It is very common here to ask each other what our nationality/ancestry is. I know I have been asked that all my life! smile.gif

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RavenWing 
Posted: 29-Jan-2004, 03:27 PM
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QUOTE (Catriona @ Jan 25 2004, 02:32 PM)
It is really amazing that there is so much soul searching that goes on in the US about 'roots' etc. It just doesn't seem to be of such importance to us here. And that seems to be true of many of the immigrants, not just the mainline Scots of Scots ancestry.


Hi Cat! I have been thinking about this. I think what has happened here is we Americans don't have a culture. We are such a melting pot that any culture our ancestors maintained has been erased. It is a sad thing, really.



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DesertRose 
Posted: 29-Jan-2004, 03:36 PM
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RavenWing! I could not have put this better! Thank you! thumbs_up.gif
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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 29-Jan-2004, 03:57 PM
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well, see? I disagree with the whole America doesn't have a culture thing. They do.

Just been talking to MacErca and OldRaven about that on irc yesterday (I think). OldRaven started about History that still exists over here but it doesn't. Maybe a few things like buildings and documents but that's basically it. Else we wouldn't need scientists to figure out what ppl did in other times.

It is people that make history and a culture and America is just as rich in it as anywhere else is. You just have to look for it.
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DesertRose 
Posted: 29-Jan-2004, 11:46 PM
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Well Aon, I would disagree! tongue.gif smile.gif Yeah, America is rich in history of it's own, good and bad. However, like RavenWing said, we are a melting pot where we have many cultures here and depending on where you live, it dictates the lifestyle. I live in a small town comprised of mostly Native Americans and Mexican Americans. I would say that there is a very strong influence in my town of these cultures and in most of Arizona. If I don't speak Spanish or the Tohono O'dham or Navaho language then I am crud out of luck. We decorate our homes in the southwestern culture even. We eat mostly Mexican food! Depending on what state you live in comprises of their particular history and culture. I have lived in Georgia, North Carolina, California and Arizona and each place is different in its own way and dictated by the majority of the ancestry of the people who live there. My father's side of the family, for example, came from Sicily and whenever we got together we ate, talked and breathed Sicilian!

We are a conglomeration of cultures here. Not just one! Just my humble opinion. smile.gif

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RavenWing 
Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 10:42 AM
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QUOTE (Aon_Daonna @ Jan 29 2004, 08:57 PM)
It is people that make history and a culture and America is just as rich in it as anywhere else is. You just have to look for it.

Yes there is plenty of history, but look at it this way, there are no defining elements that identify us as American with the exception of our government.


Argh I don't have enough time to explain my thoughts further. I will give it a try.
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RavenWing 
Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 10:51 AM
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QUOTE (Aon_Daonna @ Jan 29 2004, 08:57 PM)
It is people that make history and a culture and America is just as rich in it as anywhere else is. You just have to look for it.

I think that is exactly what people are doing when they try to trace their ancestry and "go back to their roots". Unfortunately we have to go back and see what our ancestors did to find anything, unless we are Native American. That is the only true American culture. If you look for culture around here, you will see what people have managed to hold on to. Some people do not feel right adopting one that has noting to do with their ancestry.
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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 12:57 PM
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well, everytime I start talking to an american about history the "ancient monuments" thing comes up... I actually think the native american monuments that still stand and natural ones over the pond are the very least as much interesting as anything you find here...

Apart from that, your ancestors left the country of their birth and it usually sort of becomes a wonderland in stories.. you will never be able to find that. ´

But even things from the 18s on are history, and alot of industrial sites here in europe "killed off" ancient sites over here. Gartzweiler in Germany destroyes archeological sites every day, especially sites from the roman and Iron age.

You don't have to look for culture somewhere else in my eyes. Apart from that it's a fact that with wars and fires and natural disasters even over here many records are destroyed. Especially in Germany, often records were stored in churches and in the bombings of the cities alot was destroyed. The only reason why we could check back such a long time as we could on my family is that the counts were always kept. We still lost alot of documents in the wars, especially in the second world war...

I'm not trying to keep people from finding their roots since it is very interesting work but I have problems understanding the kind of fascination that comes over from America (especially!) to here...
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Elspeth 
Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 01:43 PM
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America does have a culture today, one that resulted from being a melting pot. One out of many.

But we don't have a united historical culture. Those who came to these shores usually clung to their heritage and settled with their own kind. Making a New England, like the New Scotland to the north. This created pockets of cultures all over America. Little Italy's and Chinatowns abound as well as German districts, Slovak areas, etc.

It has probably only been since what, post WWII, that true integration began and we started to emerge as an American culture.

Just thinking out loud.

What was the question anyway? Surnames? It is interesting. I have ancestors who came over here from Ulster Ireland. But they have Scottish names. I am then assuming they were part of the plantation movement and are really transplanted Scots and not Irish, because from what I have read, those who settled Ulster Ireland did not intermingle with the native Irish for many reasons, especially the one of religion.

And I wonder about some of my German ancestors. Being Anabaptists, some of them fled Germany to Holland to escape the retaliatory persecution after the Mayhem at Munster. So, are they still German, did they become Dutch because they lived there for a couple of hundred years before emigrating. It does become confusing. I suppose they were Dutch of German descent.

So do any of these names sound German to you Aon? Rairigh (or Raiegh), Brillhard (or Brillhart), Speicher (or Speiker), Berkey? But then again, from what I read, when the Anabaptists came to America in the early 1700?s, almost all of them left Germany. So I wonder if any of those family names still exist there.


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Aon_Daonna 
Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 02:54 PM
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Speicher does (a speicher means either the attic of a house, or a storagespace). the first sounds rather irish to me... =/ I'll ask my grandma to have a look into her surnames book (it's translating the meaning of surnames or their actual origin). Brillhart could be German but it doesn't sound like a name I have ever heard.

(btw, if you think european history is united you're wrong... germany as an example was only little states and duchies until the preussians actually started to unite everything)
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MDF3530 
  Posted: 30-Jan-2004, 02:59 PM
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It doesn't help that some clans are found in multiple countries. Take the Clan McLoughlin/Maclachlan. They are found in both Ireland and Scotland. I claim the Irish name because of two reasons: 1. I already have a Scottish clan (Maxwell), and 2. The Irish McLoughlins were royalty at one time.


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