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 series of blog posts 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 fourteenth installment of a series of posts documenting the etymology of many of our families’ surnames (recent and distant, direct and indirect.)
Well, since I already covered the N and O names, it’s time to mind our Ps and Qs:
Pettis (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This pre-7th century Old English word is usually topographical and derives from the word pytt, meaning a pit or hollow, and the suffix -hus, meaning a house. The name may also be locational from one of the places named with this topographical element, e.g. Pitt in Hampshire or Pett in East Sussex.
Peverel (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname has two origins. First, it is a corruption of the Latinized French name Peurerellus, meaning little boy. The second Latin word piper, meaning pepper, may have been a nickname for a small man with a fiery temper.
Page (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname harkens back to the origins of chivalry and heraldry and is from an occupational descriptive name derived from the Middle English and Old French word page, meaning a friend or servant or a knighthood.
Paine (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname comes from the Old French word, paien, itself derived from the Latin word, paganus, meaning a villager or rustic or heathen.
Painter (my father’s paternal line, twice over)
German—This might be an occupational surname for a painter of stained glass, derived from the Middle English and Old French word, peinto(u)r, meaning painter. It might also be a topographic name for someone living in a fenced enclosure.
Pakenham (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This is a locational name from either Pagham in Sussex or Pakenham in Suffolk. The Sussex place name is derived from the Old English personal name Paecga and Old English word, -ham, meaning an enclosure or water meadow, while the place in Suffolk is composed of the Old English personal name Pacca and -ham, again meaning an enclosure or water meadow.
Palmes (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This Anglo-Saxon is locational, indicating those who originated in Palmes, Languedoc, Normandy.
Papini (my spouse’s brother-in-law’s family)
Italian—This surname comes from the pet name of the word papi, meaning priest. Papini means daddies.
Patton (my father’s maternal line)
English/Scottish—This surname has two known origins. It may be a short or fused form of the ancient personal name Patrick, as in Pat + the diminutive suffix ‘-in’ meaning ‘Little Pat’ or perhaps ‘son of Pat’, or it might have been a nickname for the son of a man with a cropped hair or was bald, derived from the Middle English word pate, meaning head or skull.
Paulding (my mother’s maternal line)
Dutch—This surname is most likely an altered form of Paling, a nickname for a lithe or devious man. It might also be a metonymic occupational name for a seller or catcher of eels, derived from the Dutch word paling, meaning eel.
Payne (my mother’s paternal line)
English— This surname is derived from the French surname, Payen, which came from the pre-7th century personal name Pagen, itself from the French word paien and the earlier Latin word, paganus. The surname was used to refer to a villager, rustic, or heathen.
Paynel (my mother’s paternal line)
English—The Paynel surname is a variation of the Payne surname (see above).
Pearl (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is derived from the Latin word perla, meaning pearl. In medieval times, it was an occupational surname for a trader of pearls. This surname was brought to England by the Crusaders in the 12th century. This surname was often given to their children of the pilgrimage(s).
Pemberton (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This is a locational surname, referring to one from the district of Pemberton in the county of Lancashire. The name Pemberton comes from the Old English word pen, meaning summit of a hill; bere, meaning barley; and tun, meaning farm. Therefore, Pemberton means “the barley farm on the hill.”
Pennington (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This locational surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and can refer to any of these three places: Pennington in Hampshire, Cumberland (near Ulverston), and the parish of Leigh, Lancashire. The former two are derived from the Old English word pening, meaning a penny (referring to a tribute due on the land), and the word tun, meaning a farm or settlement. The latter, recorded as Pinington and Pynington in 1246, means “the settlement of Pinna’s people.”
Percy (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is derived from the Old French word percer, meaning to pierce or breach, and haie, meaning a hedge or enclosure, and was originally given to a soldier in memory of his breach of a fortification. The name was brought to England by the Normans in 1066.
Peson (my mother’s maternal line)
English—Another Norman contribution, this surname is derived from the Old French word peser, meaning to weigh or ponder. Today, the French word peson means weight. The surname might have been given to one who had “deep thoughts” or perhaps it was an occupational surname for someone responsible for weighing objects.
Pfaffenberger/Poffenberger (my father’s paternal line)
German— This habitational surname for someone who lived near or on one of three mountains/hills in Germany called Pfaffenberg: one in Baden-Württemberg, one in Bavaria, and one in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. This name is derived from the German words pfaffe, meaning parson, and berg, meaning mountain.
Pipkin (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname might be either a diminutive form of the Old French personal name Pepin, or a diminutive of the name Pip, itself a pet form of Philip, combined with the suffix -kin, from the Middle Dutch and German word -chen, meaning small.
Plantagenet (my mother’s paternal line)
French/English—The name Plantagenet was originally spelled Plante Genest
or Plantegenest and originated as a nickname for Geoffrey of Anjou, father of Henry II. Plante genest translates into broom shrub (Genisteae), a hardy plant that thrives in extreme temperatures and poor soil.
Plumpton (my mother’s paternal line)
English—Of Anglo-Saxon origin, this is a habitational surname for those who lived in the English locales called Plumpton: the township in Lancashire, the parish in Northumberland, and the parish in Sussex.
Poet (my father’s maternal line)
Scottish—A variation of the Pate surname, which can either be a shortened version of the personal name Patrick or is a nickname for a man with a bald head, derived from the Middle English word pate, meaning head or skull.
Pole (my mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname has three possible sources. The first is locational, from the village of Poole near the city of Chester, from the town Poole in Dorset, or other places named Pool or Poole in the British Isles. The second is topographical from the Old English word pol, meaning a person who dwelt by either a small lake or tidal stream. The third possible origin is from the Latin personal name Paulus, meaning little.
Pomeroy (my mother’s paternal line)
English—Brought to England during the Norman Conquest, this surname has two origins: the first is locational for a resident of La Pommeraye in Calvados and Seine-Inferieure or Saint Sauveur La-Pommeraie in La Manche, which received their name from the Old French word pommeroie, meaning apple orchard, from the Latin word pomum, meaning apple. The surname is also a topographical name for a dweller by the apple orchard.
Porter (my mother’s paternal line)
English—Of Old French origin, this surname has two possible sources. It might be an occupational name for the gatekeeper of a town or a doorkeeper of a large house; the Old French word porte means door or gateway. It also might be an occupational name for someone who carried loads for a living, using his own muscle power rather than a beast of burden or a wheeled vehicle, from the Old French word porteo(u)r, meaning to carry or convey.
Powell (my mother’s paternal line)
English— This surname has two possible origins, the first is the early medieval Welsh patronymic form of the personal name ap-Howell or ap-Hywel, meaning son of Hywel. The second possible origin of the surname is English and derives from a patronymic form of the given name Paul, meaning small, from the Latin word paulus.
Power (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
English—This surname is either a locational one, derived from the Old French word Pohier, meaning a native of Pois, a town in Picardy, France. This surname might also have originated as a nickname for a poor person from the Middle English and Old French words, povre or poure.
Pratt (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname is derived from a pre-7th-century Anglo-Saxon word praett, meaning a trick, and was probably a nickname for a magician or conjuror.
Prosperoni (my spouse’s brother-in-law’s family)
Italian—This surname is derived from the Latin word prosperus, meaning favorable or fortunate, as in luck.
Purchase (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This is a metonymic occupational surname for an official responsible for obtaining the supplies required by a monastery or manor house, derived from Anglo-Norman French word purchaser, meaning to acquire or buy.
Putnam (my brother-in-law’s family)
English—This surname is derived from the Old English nickname Putta, meaning kite (as in the bird of prey), plus the word ham, meaning homestead.
Pynchon (my spouse’s mother’s paternal line)
English—This surname came to England during the Norman Conquest. It is a habitational name for a person from Pontchardon, near Neauffla, Normandy.
Quick (my spouse’s mother’s maternal line)
Dutch—This surname is derived from a nickname for a lively or agile person, taken from the Middle Dutch word quic, meaning alive, lively, or fresh.
Well, that’s it for the P and Q surnames… Next up are the R surnames.