I have always been fascinated by language, specifically where it originates and how it adapts, mutates, and relates to other languages. That is why I found the recent series of blogs by Andrew’s Kindred so intriguing. It combined my love of etymology with my love of genealogy. I was so inspired, in fact, that I decided to try my hand at chronicling the origins of our families’ surnames.
This is the fifth installment of a series of posts documenting the etymology of many of our families’ surnames (recent and distant, direct and indirect.)
Now that the D names have been discussed, next up is the letter E:
Earnest (my spouse’s stepmother’s family)
German—This is the Americanize form of the German surname, Ernst. This is probably a locational surname for the town of Ernst, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. However, medieval evidence for Norman spellings such as Ernais, derives it from a Germanic personal name Arn(e)gis, possibly composed of the elements arn, meaning eagle, an gisil, meaning pledge, hostage or noble youth.
Eckenroth (my father’s maternal line)
German—This surname is derived from Middle Low German words eke, meaning oak (plural eken), and rot, meaning cleared land’. This might have been a topographic name for someone who lived by a piece of land which had been cleared of oaks or perhaps a nickname for some who owned a piece of such land.
Eckert (my spouse’s stepmother’s family)
German—From a personal name composed of the elements agi, meaning edge or point, and hard, meaning hardy, brave, strong.
Eden/Eddins (my brother-in-law’s maternal line)
English—This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is the patronymic (the “s” denoting son of) form of the name Eden, itself derives from the Old English pre 7th Century personal name Eadhun, with the Middle English development edun, and composed of the elements ead, meaning prosperity, and hun, meaning a bear cub. Or, it could refer to the Hebrew word eden, meaning delight.
Egerton (my mother’s maternal line)
English—This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is locational in nature, deriving from either of the places called Egerton in the counties of Cheshire and Kent. Egerton comes from the Old English pre-7th Century personal names Ecghere or Ecgheard, with the suffix -tun, meaning an enclosure or settlement.
Eller (my brother-in-law’s maternal line)
German/English—This surname is both German and Northern English, specifically Yorkshire. It was probably introduced into England, as a word only, by the Anglo-Saxon settlers after the 5th century. Whether it was reintroduced by German engineers responsible for the draining of the Vale of York in the 15th century is open to conjecture. From North Germany, this could be a topographic surname for someone who lived by an alder tree, from Middle Low German word elre or alre, meaning alder. The name also means low-lying ground and is claimed to originate from the Rhine Valley, specifically from the old river name of Elera. What is fascinating is that the word elera is a Celtic or Old English word that seems to have been imported into Northern Germany, so the possibility remains that nameholders might have originated in England and moved to Germany at some point in ancient history before returning back to England.
Elliott (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from a personal name which traces its origin to two names, Ailiet and Aliet. Deriving ultimately from the Old English pre-7th Century words aeoelgyo and aeoelgeat, these surnames break down to mean noble combat (aoel, meaning noble, and gyo, meaning battle), and noble great (aoel, meaning noble, and gait, meaning goat)—a masculine form of an old tribal name.
Ellis (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
Welsh—This surname is the Anglicized version of the surname Elisedd, which was derived from Welsh word elus, meaning kind. This surname has back to the Greek Elias, itself from the Hebrew Eliyahu, meaning Jehovah is God.
Emenheiser (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
German—This surname is an Americanized spelling of Immenhauser, a habitational name from Immenhausen, a town in the Kassel district of Hesse, Germany.
Erb (my father’s paternal line)
Swiss—This surname is derived from the German word erben, meaning to inherit. This name might have been given to the heir of a big estate or to one who inherited wealth.
Espec (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname has two district possible origins. In most instances, it is derived from an early medieval English nickname that comes from the Old French word espeche and Middle English word spek(e), meaning woodpecker. The second possible origin is from an Anglo-Saxon locational name, the place called Speke in Lancashire, recorded in the Domesday Book as Spec. This placename is from the Old English pre-7th Century word spaec, meaning twigs or dry brushwood.
Evans (my mother’s paternal line and my spouse’s maternal mother’s line, two different branches)
Welsh—This surname, of medieval Welsh origin, is a patronymic form of the male given name Ifan or Evan, both of which derive from Iohannes through the colloquial Iovannes, Latin forms of John.
Everett (my stepfather’s family)
English—This is a surname originates as both the Old English pre-7th century personal name Eoforheard and the Germanic personal name Eberhard, both composed of the elements eber, translating as wild boar and hard, meaning brave or strong.
Eyre (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is of Old Norse origin and is found chiefly in the northwestern counties of England, reflecting the dense settlement of Scandinavian people in those areas. The surname is locational from places such as Aira Beck or Aira Force near Ullswater in Cumberland, or some other minor or unrecorded place also named with the Old Norse term eyrara, meaning gravel-bank stream or river. The surname may also be topographical in origin, denoting residence by such a gravel-bank.
That’s it for the Es! Stay tuned for the F surnames in our families…