...My grandfather was born Jan Waclaw Rosiewicz. He changed his name to John W. Smith shortly after moving to the United States. He died long before I was born. Can you give me any information on the origin of this name? I believe he was from Eastern Poland.
Rosiewicz is a rather difficult name because it could derive from a number of different sources. If we play it straight and analyze it just as it appears, Polish surname expert Kazimierz Rymut says Rosiewicz comes from the root rosa, dew. The -iewicz ending means son of, and son of dew doesn't seem too sensible at first, but I suppose Rosa could be used as a nickname, in which case the son of part is not so odd.
The problem is, there are other, similar-sounding rooms this might come from. For instance, there is the feminine name Rose, which appears in various languages as Rosa, Roza, might be relevant; in Polish it's Róz|a, accent over the o, dot over the z, prnounced roughly ROOH-zhuh. Son of Roza makes good sense, and it's not impossible for Rosiewicz to come from that name. Also, Poles and Ukrainians often took the first syllable of common first names and added suffixes to it to form nicknames, so that Ros- could come from first names such as Roscislaw, Robert, Roch, etc. If so, Rosiewicz would mean son of Ros, and Ros could be short for any of several names. Rymut doesn't discuss these possible derivations, but to me they seem well worth considering.
As of 1990 there were 231 Polish citizens named Rosiewicz. Here is a breakdown of where they live by province:
ROSIEWICZ: 231; Warsaw 19, Białystok 6, Bielsko-Biala 4, Ciechanow 19, Gdansk 11, Gorzow 21, Jelenia Gora 1, Kalisz 16, Katowice 5, Kielce 1, Koszalin 1, Krakow 16, Olsztyn 20, Poznan 1, Radom 7, Rzeszow 11, Szczecin 8, Tarnobrzeg 31, Wroclaw 31, Zielona Gora 2
Remember, this means there were, for instance, 19 people by that name in Warsaw province, not just in the city of Warsaw. I wish I could give you more details such as addresses and first names, but the Polish government agency that controls the database from which the Polish Surname Directory was compiled will not release more info. What I give above is all that's available. All that data tells us is that this name appears all over Poland, north, south, east and west.
Copyright © 1998 W.F. Hoffman. All rights reserved. Used by permission.