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Subject: Re: Having a lot of difficulty finding the meaning of my last name
Author: Devonelisa   (Authenticated as Devonelisa)
Date: March 15, 2004 at 2:42:35 AM
Reply to: Having a lot of difficulty finding the meaning of my last name by Turfryer
What makes you say your surname is both Dutch and Jewish? Unless you research it back over the generations you can't tell the origin of your surname by the family tale of being one ethnicity or another - you might be mainly descended from Dutch Jews but they may have married a lone Englishman or taken on the name of a benefactor or friend. Surnames in the US are often little mysteries just waiting to be solved rather than straightforward indications of origin.

I had an aunt who decided that family surname Sowards was German and meant 'pig farmer' - she based this on nothing more than what she 'heard' in the name. I researched it all the way back to the 1600's and corrected her, it's a Devonshire form of the very English Seaward 'guardian of the sea' (more likely someone fool enough to live at sea's edge where they get the brunt of all the storms off the Atlantic but nevermind ;o) Another strain of the family was thrilled to be descended from the Randolphs of VA - except that they aren't - they're descended from some guy who took on the name Randolph in the 1800's - probably because he was mixed race or had committed a crime and was giving himself a fresh start in a new place with a good respectable name. Doing the donkey work of gathering info generation by generation and tracing the name that way is really the only way to find out one's true origins and the origins of various names.

Turfryer reminded me at once of the Oxfordshire surname Turfrey/Turfry/Turfree, etc. It's very English now but started out in the form Thorfrey 'Thor peace', Thor being the Norse god of thunder and fridr being the old Norse for 'peace'. You can easily see out Thorfridr could be phonetically corrupted over centuries into Turfryer. I know of no Dutch or Yiddish names that are remniscient of it though. Look on genealogy sites for variants of your name like Turfry, Turfrey, etc. and you may stumble onto a distant relative who has made researching the origins of your surname their life's work and are thrilled to share it with you ;o)

Devon

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