Foreign names in Poland

Help, the Internet knows where I live! It even has a map. A Polandian reader wrote and asked me if there are any people in Poland called Dyle. I said I doubted it, even though there is a village with that name, but what the hell would I know anyway? Twenty Google minutes later I had come up with this nifty name-checking site that shows the distribution of surnames across the country. I remember playing with something similar a few years ago in the UK, but it had never occurred to me to check my own surname in Poland:

Stokes

Two Stokes in Krakow. The weird thing is, I don’t think this is me or my wife. I bet this is based on 2002 Census data, and I wasn’t here in 2002.

Clearly, I couldn’t leave it there:

Scattergood

Surely our very own Scatts—unique and ‘special’ as always.

I would have searched for the surnames of the other Polandians, but they very sensibly haven’t revealed then on this site. I’m not sure they even have surnames. I just call them Newboy 1,2, and 3. I was, however, unable to resist the temptation to search for Kowalski:

Kowalski

67,203 Kowalskis—I thought there would be more.

And Kowalska, because I’m not a complete idiot:

Kowalska

71,158 Kowalskas—the sisters are the longer-lived half of the clan.

But what about the English equivalent—Smith? Just how pervasive is the evil influence of British culture?

Smith

98 Smiths—not bad. Apart from the expected Warsaw concentration, there’s a weird agglomeration of Smiths in the tiny town of Nidzica.

And Jones?

Jones

152 Jones: the second most common English name, and the most common Welsh name—I didn’t know Lublin was sheep country. Jones is such a common name in Wales that Welsh regiments routinely add a service number to the names of privates who have it: “Jones 397! Get a haircut you ‘orrible little man.”

What about common immigrant names in the UK—how widely are they represented in Poland?

Singh

127 Singhs—it’s more common than Smith. I was quite surprised by this because I haven’t noticed a significant Indian community here. Singh is a hugely common surname in Northern India and, literally, all Sikhs are called Singh—a fact that has caused more than one immigration official to leap from a tall building.

What about Patel?

Patel

Only 3 Patels! Patel is a common Indian surname: it is the third most common surname in the London area. Strange there should be a lot of Singhs but so few Patels. Sikhs also live in Pakistan, which had close Cold War links with Poland, so maybe that’s the reason.

What about the ethnic minorities we know live in Poland? Nguyen is the classic Vietnamese surname, it accounts for something like 40 percent of the population. Tran is the second most popular.

Nguyen

A healthy 339 Nguyens, unsurprisingly clustered in urban fast-food centers.

Tran

109 Trans—about equal to the Smiths.

* * *

The map is here if you want to play with it.

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22 thoughts on “Foreign names in Poland

  1. polkaontheisland says:

    Yer miserable invaders…
    English people in England don’t believe me when I tell them about Britons moving in to Poland.
    Now I have the PROOF! Yay!

  2. scatts says:

    Cool! I suppose that’ll be me or my wife for sure.

    Apparently there are also 5 Scattergoods in Germany, 1 in Switzerland and the same in Austria.

    My wife’s maiden name only gets 20 hits and 25 in the male version, all in places where we know the relatives are so even less than Smith & Jones. The version of her name spelt with a ł instead of a plain l gets 852 hits, which is why everyone was always getting it wrong!

  3. Bartek says:

    It’s MoiKrewni / “My relatives” site. Now I know my surname is not as rare as I thought – 97 people in the whole Poland, or rather only in Warsaw and Piaseczno disctrict and in Wrocław and around.

    Jamie, don’t lie you don’t know my surname. I don’t use it just not to be indexed by search engines too often. The last thing I need is publicity… I blog for pleasure, not for fame.

    I think it’s not based on May / June 2002 census but on periodically updated data from registry offices.

  4. For “foreign names” I’ve got you all beat. 120 Zimmerman’s, 712 Zimmermann’s.

  5. Cosi says:

    Thanks for the link. Damn, that’s absorbing… I could spend hours staring at those maps ;-)

  6. Kuba says:

    That is one of the sites used by people doing Genealogy research on there families. It is more recent then the books published with last names.
    Also used is this site http://www.herby.com.pl/.

  7. PMK says:

    I got 26 people with my name.

  8. Matka Polka says:

    34 people with my name. It’s quite awkward because I know less than half of them and we’re family. Oh the drama.

    Thank you for the link

  9. scatts says:

    Can I just ask, on the Stokes map, if there are only the two Stokes, why is Krakow coloured yellow and not pale green?

    These computers, you just can’t trust them.

  10. Pioro says:

    where do you find the map feature on moikrewni.pl? all it does is redirect me to myheritage.pl and after registration i still dont see the map option. help!

  11. Pioro says:

    ah just saw the link on the blog post!

  12. Pioro says:

    wow my family are true city folk!

  13. Decoy says:

    With my Irish surname, I have found 2 records returned, although interestingly, I recognise one as probably being my wife, with her zameldowanie in the town she is from.
    However, there is another person of my surname based in Katowice! I’ll have to get a detective on the case… or just run around Katowice for a while shouting my name – whichever is cheaper.

    And with my wifes maiden name she gets 1119 returned for the female version and 994 for the male version, moslty based in Bialystok, although I don’t think she’s aware of relatives living there.

  14. Pioro says:

    Ok so I have been geeking out on this map for the last couple of days and in Poland there are:

    6 Medwedews
    0 Putins (phew)
    0 Hitlers (bigger phew)
    0 Obamas
    0 Sarkozys
    31 Browns but only 3 Camerons and Cleggs each!
    397 Merkels
    527 Schroeders
    0 Maos
    0 Lenins
    0 Stalins
    0 Churchills
    and finally…32 Husseins but only 2 Bushes…sounds about right.

  15. island1 says:

    Any Bin Laden’s? I wonder if the CIA has thought of this.

  16. island1 says:

    Definitely the running-around-shouting option.

  17. island1 says:

    We get our own special colour.

  18. island1 says:

    Dropping that second ‘n’ was a good social climbing move on the part of your ancestors.

  19. Dawid says:

    “By the 1600s there were an estimated 30,000 Scots living in Poland. ”
    http://www.scotland.org/about/history-tradition-and-roots/features/culture/1576.html

    Interestingly, in mid-17th century there were plans to attract Irish immigrants (or rather refugees, if I’m not mistaken) to Poland, especially to the Kresy (Eastern Borderlands) to speed up the settlement process. But with the Cossacks’ uprisings and the subsequent deterioration of conditions for settlements, this plan was abandoned and never revived.

  20. Taddeus says:

    Hey there, I’m a long-time lurker, but I just wanted to comment on this article – great find!

    I’m in the US and I’m planning a trip to Poland with my sister. Not sure how much family-relations we’ll find, but we’re going to use this site as a basis for our travel path :)

    Thanks!

    (ps. last name is Rokitowski)

  21. island1 says:

    Glad to be of service.

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