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Krzewicki - Krzywicki - Mierzejewski
Created by Administrator Account in 12/24/2009 8:49:29 AM

 


... Regarding the Krzewicki name. One person I contacted said it was originally spelled Krzywicki, but they changed it because there was a childhood disease spelled the same way! Must have been some disease!

I'm sure the reference is to krzywica, rachitis or rickets; the adjectival form of that word is krzywiczy, not krzywicki, but of course the latter word does sound like it has a connection to the disease, and that could easily be enough to make one want to change it. Krzyw- is a Polish root meaning "bent, crooked," as in the name of King Bolesław Krzywousty, "Boleslaus with the crooked mouth." Your source may be right, but as of 1990 there were 2,905 Polish citizens named Krzywicki, so the link with the disease didn't induce everyone to change that name!

Confusion of krzyw- and krzew-, or changing from one to the other, is not unlikely, we do often see e and y confused in the spelling of Polish names. It can matter, however, which one was originally right, as krzew- is a root meaning "shrub," whereas krzyw-, as I said, means "bent, crooked." Both Krzywicki and Krzewicki probably derive from place names -- there are several Krzywica's and Krzywice's in Poland, and I noticed in the Slownik Geograficzny that there is at least one place named Krzewice. If your research lets you settle the matter of what the original form was, it could be significant, in that it might give you a clue as to your ancestors' place of origin. You're kind of lucky, there are only a few places with applicable names, a lot better than some names that could derive from any of 50 villages!

...I am always interested to read the messages from those who want to know what their names mean, and where they originated, but it seems to me that it's TOO easy to say, "OK, my name comes from Mierzejew, so that means my Mierzejewskis must live there!" I think that could really throw some researchers off the track. I think of the time wasted checking every Mierzejewo in Poland, looking for MY Mierzejewski family. Wouldn't that kind of be working backwards? Mine lived in Ukraine! I would never have found them that way! Good thing I had his passport and military records! But that does NOT tell me where he was born, only where he was living at the time he was discharged from the army, and the time he left for America. I think many people fall into that kind of thing, setting themselves back many, many years!

You are absolutely right! I try to stress this to people, that you must not say "Here's my name, there's a place that sounds right, they must have come from there." The chances of making an incorrect association are way too high for that kind of procedure! The right way to go is to do the dirty work of combing through records (which is what most people want to avoid, that's why they hope their surname will provide a shortcut), establish exactly what part of Poland your people came from, and then look for a suitable place name in that area. Even then you may be misled, but the odds are much, much better. Doing it the other way is begging for disaster! I'm glad you understand this, many people don't.

... Oh well, I will keep plodding along, and trying to find my Mierzejewski grandfather!

Everyone wants a shortcut, and I don't blame anyone for that - who wouldn't take a shortcut if one's available? But plodding is the way to go! I've known several people who weren't exactly the brightest folks in the world, but they just kept on, never gave up, and ended up with magnificent results. Brains and ingenuity help, but I think the real key to success is plain old perseverance. So don't ever stop plodding!

And by the way, you probably know this, but Mierzejewski probably started meaning something like "person from Mierzejewo (e. g., Mierzejewo in Leszno and Olsztyn provinces)," and those places surely got their names from the term mierzeja, "spit, sand-bar." The surname is quite common, with 8,481 Poles by that name as of 1990. I believe there was a noble family by that name - if I'm not mistaken, Jonathan Shea (president of the PGS-Northeast) has some Mierzejewski ancestors who were noble.

Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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