Somewhere in my bookmarks is a great explanation of last names. It gets wierd going back before about 1800.
Last names were not required in many European countries. Naming conventions varied. Sometimes the equivalent of 'son' was just added to the father's name.
One library book I browsed through told of German naming patterns. Most of the country, of course, was agricultural. The FARMS HAD NAMES. If you bought the farm, you assumed the name. Husbands often took on their wives names because they stayed on the farm she inherited.
In addition, in Germany, people had their given names, plus names they chose at Christian confirmation. Johann, for instance, is usually a given name while Johannes is a chosen confirmation name.
Also in Europe, the clergy was still using Latin, or trying to. When names were recorded in church records, they may have been badly translated into an approximation of their Latin equivalent. (This is in addition to the problems with the interpretation of evolving script penmanship.)
WEREN'T THESE PEOPLE THINKING OF MY FUTURE RESEARCH?!
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