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Variant personal names in German church records

In Germany, and occasionally also in other countries with large German immigrant populations, by convention personal names were recorded in a variety of forms.


Latin suffixes[edit | edit source]

In 18th and 19th Century church records very often the names of family members are given Latin suffixes to indicate their relationship. Latin suffixes are extremely complex, beyond the scope of this wiki; see Wikipedia.

That these suffixes were functional and for the record, not part of the person's name, becomes apparent when other historical records of the family are examined.

Because the suffixes were used in some situations and not others, to find historical records in FamilySearch it can be helpful to use wildcards.

Given names in baptismal records[edit | edit source]

In records of baptism very often the given names of child and parents alike are given Latin suffixes. A simple and relatively transparent example would be a couple Martin and Maria and their children. Martin and Maria are recorded more or less consistently as Martini and Mariae on baptismal records of their children but as Martin and Maria in their marriage and death records in the same parish. And on his own baptismal record Martin is recorded as Martinus.

To find these records in FamilySearch use wildcards: e.g., Martin? or Martin*

Maiden names[edit | edit source]

In a woman's marriage record and in baptismal records of her children, her surname often received the suffix -in. This suffix generally was not used on her own birth, baptism, and death record.

In some families the -in suffix became part of the surname.


Christ- names[edit | edit source]

Church records in Germany sometimes render Christ- names in shorthand, using X to stand for Christ, in the same way that today Xmas is shorthand for Christmas. However, there were three possible forms of this shorthand: X could stand for Christ, Chris, or Chri. Some examples:

Xian, Xtian, Xstian for Christian
Xina, Xtina, Xstina for Christina
Xoph, Xtoph, Xstoph for Christoph
Xopher, Xtopher, Xstopher for Christopher

See Wiktionary.

See also[edit | edit source]