Doukhobor Names and Naming Practices
Jonathan J. Kalmakoff
names in Russia consisted of a personal name with several diminutive
forms, a patronymic middle name, and a surname. Nicknames were sometimes used to distinguish individuals or even whole families. In Canada,
Doukhobor names were Canadianized in both form and spelling. Any given document
may show one form of name or another, therefore researchers must be alert to
all possibilities. The following comprehensive guide will assist researchers
in understanding Doukhobor names and naming practices in Russia and Canada and in recognizing Doukhobor names that appear in records.
Part I. Personal Names
Names in Russia
the pre-Christian period before the end of the 10th century, ancient Russians
were identified by a single personal name which they received at birth.
These were pagan names of Slavic, Scandinavian and Turkic origin. Following
the introduction of Christianity in A.D. 988, Biblical names of Greek,
Latin and Hebrew origin predominated.
centuries in Russia, name-giving was exclusively in the hands of the Church.
Tsarist law required that children be named by an Orthodox priest during
an official baptismal ceremony, for a fee. The name was often selected
by the priest and not the parents. Sometimes the parents suggested a name
which the priest then approved. Occasionally a child received an ill-sounding
name if the priest disliked, or was displeased with, the parents. The godparents
took the infant to the church. The parents were not usually present for
the baptism. Often, the parents did not learn the chosen name of their
child until the baby was returned home by the godparents. This practice
continued until the late 18th century, when Doukhobors outwardly rejected
Orthodox Church rites, refused to attend baptisms, and christened their
children themselves, with names of their own choosing.
all Orthodox naming practices were abandoned by the Doukhobors. The custom
of naming a child after the Orthodox saint on whose feast day the child
was born continued in some cases. For example, Doukhobor leader Petr Vasil'evich
Verigin (1859-1924) was named for the feast day of saints Petr and Pavel,
June 29th, on which he was born. However, this practice was largely limited
to the names Vasily, Egor, Petr, Pavel, Ilya, Frol, Mikhailo and
Nikolai, as these were the only saints whose feast day the Doukhobors
continued to observe after they left the Orthodox Church.
was also popular to name Doukhobor children after revered spiritual leaders
Ilarion Pobirokhin (1720-1792), Savely Kapustin (1743-1820),
Ilarion Kalmykov (1816-1841),
Petr Kalmykov (1836-1864),
Lukeria Kalmykova (1841-1886),
Verigin (1859-1924) and others.
often, Doukhobor children were named after a parent or grandparent. As
a result of this practice, one finds personal names repeating every few generations within
families. Consider the following example:
In cases where the above
naming practices were not followed, it can be said that names were left to
chance. However, even chance naming followed a peculiarly Doukhobor
pattern: according to tradition, a Doukhobor child was sometimes named after the
first person (often a friend, neighbour or relative) to set foot in the house
after the child was born. In other cases, a female Doukhobor child might be
named after the village mid-wife who assisted with the birth.
It is not unusual to find
more than one sibling with the same name. Infant mortality rates were high in
Russia, and Doukhobor parents tended to pass the name of a deceased child on to
the next infant born of the same sex. Occasionally one may find more than one
living child with the same name in records, but this is rare and usually occurred when
there was a great age difference between the children, or where the children
were from two different marriages of the father. When this occurred, the name of
one or the other child was often followed by a suffix to denote his or her
relative age. For example: Ivan Mladshii ("Ivan the Younger") or
Ivan Starii ("Ivan the Elder").
to traditional Doukhobor custom, family members, young and old alike, addressed one
another by their given names rather than by titles such as "father", "mother",
"son", "daughter", etc. Such titles were avoided because their use implied
authority, the larger over the smaller, contrary to the Doukhobor belief
in brotherhood and equality.
Frequency and Distribution
For a glossary of 292 Russian male names that occurred historically among the
click here. For a glossary of 86 Russian female
names that occurred historically among the Doukhobors,
These glossaries contain an exhaustive list
of Russian names used by Doukhobors, based on an extensive review of 19th and
20th century Russian and
Canadian historical records.
pool from which Doukhobor names were drawn from was remarkably small. For
example, among 9,188 Doukhobor immigrants living in Saskatchewan in 1905,
we find only 111 names in use. Of these, seventy-two (64.9%) are men's names,
while only thirty-nine (35.1%) are women's names. This is even
more remarkable if we consider that there were over 2,600 names in use
in Russia this time. These statistics reflect the fact that the Doukhobors in
Russia descended from a relatively small founding population, sustained by
natural population growth rather than new converts.
count reveals that some names were exceptionally popular among Doukhobors,
whereas others were quite rare. For example, among the Doukhobors in Saskatchewan
in 1905, roughly one in every two Doukhobors bore one of the top five names:
Vasily, Ivan, Nikolai, Petro or Aleksei among the males; Mariya, Anna, Anastasiya, Pelageya or Avdot'ya
among the females. In contrast, only one in every 2,300
Doukhobors bore the names Vakul, Tikhon, Fedot, Zinoviya or Aleksandra.
For a frequency study of Doukhobor names in 1905,
This study lists the frequency and rank of 111 men's and women's names that
appear among 9,188 Doukhobor settlers living in Saskatchewan in 1905.
commonly addressed one another by the diminutive form of their given names.
Diminutives are informal, short forms of names used to express familiarity
or endearment between friends and relatives. They are similar to English
pet names such as William > Bill, Theodore > Ted, Susan > Sue, Elizabeth
> Liz, etc. The formation of diminutives is so unpredictable that no simple
rule can be formulated for use by those not familiar with Russian. Several
diminutives can be formed from a single given name, and often the form
of diminutive used depended on the particular tastes of one's kith and
kin. Consider the name "Ivan" for example, the diminutives of which include
Vanyusha, Vanechka, Vansha, Ivanka, Ivanya, Ivanyukha, Ivanyusha, Ivasya,
Ivasik, Ivakha, Ivasha, Isha, Ishuta, Vanyukha, Vanyura, Vanyusya, Vanyuta,
Vanyutya, Vanyata, Iva, Iv, Ivaka, Ivanei, Ivanets, Ivanechka, Ivanishche,
Ivanko, Ivanok, Ivanochka, Ivantei, Ivanushka, Ivanchik, Ivanchuk, Ivanyui,
Ivanyushka, Ivasenka, Ivasisha, Ivasechka, Ivas, Ivaska, Ivashenka, Ivashechka,
Ivashka, Ivashok, Ivik, Ivga, Ivka, Ivonka, Ivochka, Ivushka, Ivashko,
Ivash, Ishenka, Ishka, Ishechka, Ishuta, Ishutka, Ishutonka, Ishutochka,
Vanaika, Vanei, Vanen, Vanion, Vanenka, Vanyonka, Vanenka, Vanechek, Vanik,
Vanyochek, Vanka, Vanko, Vanyunenka, Vanyunechka, Vanyunka, Vanyuk, Vanyunya,
Vanyurka, Vanyurochka, Vanyurushka, Vanyuska, Vanyusenka, Vanyusechka,
Vanyutka, Vanyutochka, Vanyutushka, Vanyusha, Vanyushenka, Vanyushechka,
Vanyai, Vanyaika, Vanyaga, Vanyushka, Vanyatka, Vanyatochka, Vanyatushka,
For a comprehensive list of diminutives forms of Russian male names among the
click here; for a listing of diminutive forms of Russian female names among
often hears that in Canada "the name was changed by immigration officials in 1899".
No it was not, despite the popular myth. Many Doukhobor immigrants did
eventually change their names, but this came later, as part of the assimilation
process. They adopted new personal names after they began working or attending
school outside the home. Often it wasn't the immigrant who invented their
new name; it might have been an Anglo-Saxon co-worker or schoolteacher.
The new Canadianized names fall into one of three categories:
Equivalents. If an English language equivalent existed, that name
was often the one adopted. Hence, most men with the Russian name Mikhailo
took the English name Michael and most women named Marfa became Martha.
However, the English equivalent name was not always the name chosen. For
example, despite the fact that the English version of the Russian name
Semyon is Simon, virtually all Doukhobors named Semyon became Sam.
Similarity. When many Doukhobor immigrants changed their name,
it was to an English name that sounded phonetically similar. Often no
more than the first sound or letters coincided. Thus, someone named Elena
in Russia might take the new name Elaine, Ellen, Ella, Eleanor, Elsie,
Helen, Evelyn, Eva, Lena or Lillian. It is important to note that the new
English name could be based on either a diminutive form or the full form
of the Russian name.
Connection. In a small number of cases, Doukhobor immigrants adopted
a new name that had nothing to do with their Russian name. Hence, Sergei
became John, Kuz'ma became Charlie or James, and Anastasiya became Mabel.
For an index of the most common English names adopted by Doukhobor immigrants,
along with their original Russian names,
click here. For a reverse index of original
Russian names used by Doukhobor immigrants, along with their most common adopted
of Name by Doukhobor Leaders
From time to time, Peter "Lordly" Verigin
provided new personal names to his followers. His reasons for doing so
were diverse and ranged from the honorific and inspirational to the practical.
According to oral tradition, the Doukhobor leader renamed the following
circa 1909, he changed the names of sisters Masha, Polya and Lusha F. Podovinnikoff of Veregin, Saskatchewan to
Vera ("Faith"), Nadezhda
("Hope") and Lyubov ("Love") respectively. These
inspirational names were taken from the three essential virtues of the
Doukhobor faith, which coincide with the Three Graces of classical
circa 1914, the Doukhobor leader switched the names of brothers John and
J. Chernoff of Veregin, Saskatchewan. His commonsense reason for doing so was
because Nick looked like his
father John and ought therefore to have been named after him; whereas the other
brother had a
reddish complexion like his mother and ought to have been named Nick.
1915, he changed the name of Alexei W. Hoobanoff of Veregin,
Saskatchewan to Ignaty, in honour of his uncle in Russia whom Verigin
deeply respected. The original Ignaty was one of the few members of the Hubanov clan in Russia to support Verigin
as leader of the Doukhobors.
what is known, Peter "Lordly" Verigin offered the new names as suggestions
only. However, given his sweeping influence over all aspects of
Doukhobor life, it is doubtful that such suggestions were ever turned down.
On the contrary, the new names were a matter of great pride and honour,
reserved for only the most faithful and devoted of his followers.
Undoubtedly, there were other such instances which oral tradition has not
preserved or kept in reasonable clarity.
Part II. Patronymics
the 10th century, Russians were identified by a patronymic in addition
to their given name. Patronymics are derived from the father's name and
function as a middle name. For males, they are formed by adding the suffix
ending -ovich ("son of") to the father's name. For females,
they are formed by adding the suffix ending -ovna ("daughter
of") to the father's name. For example, the name "Fyodor Trofimovich" refers
to Fyodor, son of Trofim and "Anna Trofimovna" refers to Anna, daughter
of Trofim. Note that according to proper Russian grammar, the patronymic is always used alongside
a formal given name; it is never used alongside a diminutive.
can greatly assist family researchers by supplying a more precise identification
of a person. In some cases they may be the only clue to an ancestor's parentage.
They also allow one to differentiate between people with the same name.
This is very useful in Doukhobor research, given the small pool of personal
names and surnames. For example, among the Doukhobors living in Saskatchewan
in 1905, the name "Vasily Popov" occurs 42 times and the name "Ivan Popov"
occurs 39 times. Hence, without knowing the patronymic, it may be very
challenging to locate the particular person one is looking for.
For a comprehensive list of male and female forms of Russian patronymic names among the
Doukhobor immigrants eventually changed their patronymic to the Canadianized
form of their father's name or to an initial. For example, Nick, son of
Semyon might be known as "Nicholas Samuel" or "Nick S." rather than "Nikolai
Semyonovich". Since the 1940's, it has become increasingly less common
for Doukhobor children to receive patronymics as middle names.
Part III. Surnames
comparison to most European nations, the use of surnames occurred relatively
late in Russia, arising among the nobility only in the late 15th and early
16th century. Fixed, hereditary surnames did not become common among the
Russian peasantry until the late 17th century and early 18th century.
surnames are characterized by special suffix endings. The most common endings
(Nazarov, Zaitsev) and
(Konkin, Tomilin). Surnames ending in -oy (Bokovoy, Chernoy)
and -iy (Uverenniy, Bozhiy) occur less frequently. Names
ending in -enko are typically Ukrainian in origin, however
they may appear Russianized by the addition of the letter
Zubenkov). Surnames ending in -sky
are widespread and may be Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Polish, Jewish or Russian
in origin. It is important to note that women's surnames in Russia have
a special form and take the additional ending -a (Kalmykova,
pool of Russian Doukhobor surnames is remarkably small. For example, among
the Doukhobors living in Milky Waters in 1845
and in the Caucasus
in 1853, we find only 370 surnames in use. Among the Doukhobors in Canada, we
find only 268 surnames. These numbers are quite remarkable if we consider that
the total number of surnames in Russia exceeds one hundred thousand.
For a frequency study of Doukhobor
surnames in 1905,
This study lists the frequency and rank of 235 surnames that appear among 9,188
Doukhobors living in Saskatchewan in 1905.
Origin and Meaning
of Doukhobor Surnames
of the origin and meaning of Doukhobor surnames reveals many clues about
our family history. Some family names are very common and widely distributed
in Russia, such as Popov or Kuznetsov. Others, such as Dukhoborov
or Samorodin have uniquely Doukhobor origins or are "Doukhoborized"
versions of existing Russian surnames. Many Doukhobor surnames may indeed
have a single-family origin. Given the small size of the founding population,
this conclusion need not surprise us.
surnames, like other Russian surnames, are derived from four basic sources:
(i) first names; (ii) trades or occupations; (iii) nicknames; and (iv)
places of residence or ethnic origin. A frequency count of 659 known Doukhobor
surnames reveals the proportions in each class as follows:
Names form the basis of 34.6% of known Doukhobor surnames. Most
are formed from men's names and are said to be patronymic:
Danshin (Dansha, a diminutive of Danila). Less common
matronymic surnames formed from women's names: Anyutushkin
(Anyutushka, a diminutive of Anna), Darin (Daria). Both the full
form and the diminutive form of a name may give rise to a surname, and
many different surnames can be formed from a single name: Ivanov
(White Ivan), Vanin, Vanzhov, Ivashin, Ivin (all diminutives
of Ivan). Many of the personal names which have given rise to surnames
are no longer in current use. These include Old Russian names such as Nechvolod
(Nechvolodov) and Muzhilo (Mzhel'sky). Unfortunately, it is
very difficult (and often impossible) to trace a family back to the ancestor
whose personal name forms the surname they now bear.
Surnames form the basis of 8.2% of known Doukhobor surnames. Surnames
of this type may be formed from administrative titles:
(interpreter). They may relate to social or economic status: Argatov
(labourer), Pobirokhin (beggar). Some are formed from military ranks:
Voykin (warrior). Others are formed from trades
Rybalkin (fisherman), Plotnikov (carpenter).
Still others relate to religious office:
form the basis of 50.0% of known Doukhobor surnames. Surnames of this type
may refer to body parts: Gubanov (lips),
Many relate to descriptive characteristics:
(thin). Others relate to physical defects or disabilities:
(pock marked), Glukhov (deaf). Some relate to behavior or personality:
Lezhebokov (sluggard). Others are derived from moral
Bludov (lecherous). Some were
given by superstitious parents as a sign of good luck:
(lucky), Korolev (kingly). Many are formed from names of birds:
Lebedev (swan). Others derive from the names of fish: Shchukin
(pike), Kostrikov (perch). Still others derive from names of animals:
(bear), Zaitsev (hare). Several relate to clothing: Shapkin (cap),
Some are formed from names of food:
(turnup). While the literal meaning of a nickname may be clear, the reason
why it was given often remains obscure, and centuries later, can only be
speculated on. A nickname might be complimentary or insulting, genuine
or ironic, true or false, depending on the particular circumstances and
Surnames form the basis of 7.2% of known Doukhobor surnames. Surnames
of this type may indicate the village or town where an ancestor originated:
(town of Baturin),
Eletsky (city of Elets). Others indicate the
region where an ancestor originated: Rezantsev (Riazan province),
(Vyatka region). Some are formed from Old Russian place names that are
no longer in current use: Trubetskoy (princely estate of Trubets),
(village of Dymov, Dymovka or Dymovsk). Many are derived from features
of the landscape, either natural or man-made: Nagornov (top of the hill -
suggesting a hill-dweller),
(lake - suggesting a lake-dweller). A number of surnames denote the ethnic, tribal or national
origin of an ancestor:
This last type may also derive from nicknames and in some cases do not
necessarily indicate any true ethnic or national origin.
For a comprehensive glossary of Doukhobor surname
This glossary contains the origins and meanings of over 659 Russian surnames
which occur among the Doukhobors in 18th, 19th and 20th century Russia and Canada.
Surname Changes in
records and accounts indicate that many Doukhobor surnames were deliberately
changed or altered in 19th century Russia. The reasons for these changes
often varied. Consider the following examples:
a man took the surname of the woman he married if her family had no male
heirs to continue that name. This appears to have occurred among the following
the father was a soldier, a son might take his mother's surname so that
he would not be automatically liable for conscription and would instead
take his chances drawing lots for recruitment. For example, when the wife
of Doukhobor leader Savely Kapustin was pregnant she was sent to her father's
household. When their son Vasily was born, he was proclaimed illegitimate
and given his mother's surname Kalmykov. Hence the Kalmykov leaders
among the Doukhobors were actually members of the
According to oral tradition, Kapustin himself took his mother's surname
and was actually the son of Doukhobor leader Ilarion Pobirokhin.
Some families discarded
their original surnames and adopted new ones which, although similar-sounding,
were derived from wholly distinct etymological roots. There were many
possible reasons for such changes: the original surname may have been derived
from an unflattering nickname that was embarrassing and undesirable; the surname
may have been changed to conceal identity (i.e. military deserters, escaped
serfs) or social/class background; or a new surname may have simply represented
a new beginning and fresh start for the family. According to historical
records, such changes occurred among the following families: Barabanov
Bulanov (originally Bulin), Miroshnikov (originally Miroshin),
Sukhoveev (originally Sukhovkin) and Svetlikov (originally
leaders such as Savely Kapustin did not discourage the idea of taking a
new family name. On the contrary, he himself gave new surnames to a number
of Doukhobor families including:
Uglov (originally Kruglov) and
No doubt there were many other such instances which oral tradition has
not preserved or kept in reasonable clarity.
A number of ethnic
Ukrainian surnames among the Doukhobors were Russified by adding an -ov
suffix ending. These include:
Borisenkov (originally Borisenko),
Chernenkov (originally Chernenko), Chernov (originally
Chuchmaev (originally Chuchmai), Gontarenkov (originally Gontarenko), Kolbasov
Krikunov (originally Krikun),
Lavrenchenkov (originally Lavrenchenko), Nagornov
Nagorny), Plokhov (originally Plokhy), Pogozhev
(originally Pozoghii), Remezov (originally Remez), Savenkov
Shtuchniy), Svetlichnov (originally Svetlichniy), Vanzhov
(originally Vanzha), Vasilenkov (originally
Yashchenkov (originally Yashchenko),
Zarshchikov (originally Zarshchenko), Zheltenkov (originally Zheltenko), Zubenkov (originally Zubenko).
In other cases, the Ukrainian surname was Russified by adding an -ev
suffix ending in place of the -enko suffix ending: Yaroshev
(originally Yaroshenko); by adding an -in
suffix ending: Planidin (originally
Planida); or by dropping the -enko suffix ending altogether: Baturin
ending in -sky or -skoy were changed to -skov suffix
endings. Some families might then keep the original surname and others
might adopt the modified surname. Examples include: Dimovskov (originally
Trubetskov (originally Trubetskoy), Savitskov (originally
Chutskov (originally Chutsky) and Eletskov (originally Eletsky).
endings -ov and -kov were used interchangeably for some surnames.
One or the other form of the surname might be adopted by a particular family. Examples include:
Noskov (originally Nosov), Parfenkov (originally
Parfenov), Tarankov (originally Taranov), Voronkov
Zhivotkov (originally Zhivotov).
The suffix endings -in
and -ov were used interchangeably for some surnames. A family might
officially adopt one or the other form of the surname. Examples include:
Cherkashev/Cherkashin, Gnezdilov/Gnezdilin, Gor'kov/Gor'kin, Mashkov/Mashkin, Mukovnikov/Mukovnin, Podkolozov/Podkolzin, Pogozhev/Pogozhin, Ryl'kov/Ryl'kin,
ending -ov was added to several surnames already ending in -in.
The resulting surnames have a double-suffix (-inov) ending. Examples
include: Lapshinov (originally Lapshin), Fominov
Shchekinov (originally Shchekin),
Deminov (originally Demin), Bedinov (originally
Il'in), Kuftinov (originally
Chursinov (originally Chursin).
Spelling Variants in Canada
the Doukhobors arrived in Canada in 1899, there was no standard system
for transliterating Russian (Cyrillic) spellings into the English (Latin)
alphabet. To complicate matters, in the South Russian dialect spoken by
the Doukhobors, certain letters were capable of more than one pronunciation.
That is, the letter G may also be pronounced as H; the letter V
may also be pronounced as W; the letter F may also be pronounced as
and the letter O may also be pronounced as A. Furthermore, most
Doukhobor immigrants were illiterate and had no notion that any one spelling
of their surname was more correct than another. As a consequence, the spelling
of Doukhobor surnames in Canada became largely a matter of chance, and
many English spelling variants arose for each name. Consider the following
Strelieff, Strelioff, Strelieve, Strelove, Streliaoff, Strelov, Strilioff,
Strelyaev, Strelayev, Streliaev, Straloff, Striloff, Streleoff, Strilive,
Strulow, Strelaioff, Strellioff, Strilaeff, Stroloff, Stralieff, Strilaiff,
Strelow, Strelaeff, Streliev, Strilaeff, Strelaff, Strellaeff, Strelleaff,
Strelau, Strelive, Strelayeff, Streliaeff, Streleaff, Strelaif, Streliaiff,
Streleiff, Strealieff, Streloff, Streleff, Streliaff.
Cheveldov, Cheveldave, Cheveldae, Cheveldeff, Cheveldeaw, Cheveldeoff,
Cheveldieff, Chivildave, Chivildeff, Cheveldayeff, Ciwildieff, Cheveldayoff,
Cheveldaoff, Cheveldeaoff, Chevildeau, Tcheveldayeff, Cheveldeiff, Cheveldaeff,
Chiveldaeff, Chiveldeff, Chevaldaew, Chiveldave, Cheveldaev, Chevaldaeff,
Chiwildiaff, Chivildeyev, Chevildeyev, Chiwildieff, Cheveldeyeff,
Chivildeev, Chivildeyev, Cheweldeiff, Chivildeeff.
Stoochnof, Stoochnoff, Stushnaff, Stushnoe, Stoochnow, Stooshinoff, Stoshnof,
Stoshnoff, Stooshnof, Stushnow, Stocknow, Stooshnov, Stoushnow, Stushnoff,
Steuchnoff, Stooshnoff, Stuchnow, Stuchinoff, Stuchnoff, Shtoochnoff, Shtuchnoff,
is important to note that in recent years, some Doukhobors have returned
to the standard Russian spelling of names, such as Tarasov instead
of Tarasoff, Kazakov rather than Kazakoff, and Popov
For a comprehensive glossary of Doukhobor
This glossary contains over 2,600 English spelling variants of over 260 surnames
which occur among the Doukhobors in Canada.
New Surnames in
new Doukhobor surnames arose in Canada which did not previously occur in
Russia. Consider the following examples:
In Russia, several
non-Doukhobor Russians married into Doukhobor families and accompanied
the movement to Canada. These include: Dvortsov, Mokronosov,
In Canada, several
immigrants of Ukrainian (Skripnikoff ~ originally Skripnik,
Sorokin ~ originally
Soroka), Belarusian (Skiboff ~ originally Skobeiko,
Kozlow ~ originally Kozyol), Polish (Zlotoff ~
originally Zloty), and even
Lithuanian (Stangviloff ~ originally Stangvila) descent took Russianized surnames after joining the Doukhobor
movement in Canada.
and Polish immigrants married into Doukhobor families in Canada and while their surnames
did not change to -ov or -in, their descendants continued
to regard themselves as Doukhobors:
Atamanenko, Sipko, Zaremba, Calmutsky,
Obchansky, Matveyenko, Sereda, Mushta, Tymofeivitch, Timoshenko,
immigrants took Russianized surnames after settling among the Doukhobors in
Canada, even though they did not join the Doukhobor movement. These include:
Popoff (originally Piroscho), Tetoff (originally Teterenko), Marchenkoff (originally Marchenko), Sardoff (originally Sereda),
Eremenkoff (originally Eremenko), Twerdoff (originally Twerdowsky), Holoboff (originally Holowaty).
While these names are not "Doukhobor" per se, they suggest a strong Doukhobor
influence at the time of their formation.
Surname Changes in
part of the assimilation process and/or to avoid ethnic discrimination, some Doukhobors
in Canada deliberately changed
their Russian surnames to English-sounding ones, especially during the
1940's to 1960's. The new family names fall into one of four categories:
Often the old surname was not entirely abandoned, but was reduced to one
or two syllables. Consider the following examples:
Bokoff (Legebokoff), Chern (Chernoff), Cherns (Chernenkoff), Chev, Chevelle, Chevelday and Day (Cheveldaeff),
Hanch (Hancheroff), Herasim (Herasimoff), Kimoff (Evdokimoff),
Lawrenoff (Lavrenchenkoff), Legebokoff (Legebow, Leadge), Makronoff (Makronosoff), Persoff (Pereverseff),
Podavell (Podavilnikoff), Podmore (Podmoroff), Podov, Podovin (Podovinnikoff), Pope (Popoff),
Pozney (Poznekoff), Remizon (Remizoff), Rezanson (Rezansoff), Sbitney
(Zbitnoff), Shersty (Sherstobitoff), Sooke (Sookorookoff), Volodoff (Nechvolodoff),
Yaschen (Yaschenkoff), Zurloff (Zurovloff).
Similarity. Sometimes a genuine English surname was adopted which
began with the same syllable or sounds as the old surname. These include: Aster (Ostoforoff), Chase (Chursinoff),
Chutskoer (Chutskoff), Collins (Kazakoff), Conklin (Konkin), Kelly (Kalmakoff), Madison,
(Malikoff), Nash (Nechvolodoff), Podmeroff (Pomeroy), Paulson, Preston
(Podovinikoff), Rowe (Remezoff),
Sterling (Strelioff), Stocknow (Stushnoff), Turner (Taranoff), Vernon (Veregin),
Equivalents. In some cases, the English translation of the old surname
was taken. Thus Strelioff became Archer, Ozeroff became
Lake and Chernoff became
Black. In other cases, the new surname was based on the English
equivalent of a parent or grandparent's name. Hence, a Stupnikoff
whose grandfather was John took the name Johnson, and a Kalmakoff
whose grandfather was Andrew took the name Andrews.
Connection. Often the new surname had nothing to do with the old
surname. Consider the following examples: Anderson (Soukeroff), Arden (Verigin), Barris
(Sherstobitoff), Barton (Ostoforoff), Black (Ostoforoff),
Clayton (Oolasoff), Dalton (Storgeoff), Dempsy (Popoff), Delaine (Anatooshkin), Elwood (Kabatoff), Foster
Gainer (Katasonoff), Hardy (Fedosoff), Hood (Perepolkin), Jacob
(Swetlishnoff), Kent (Swetlishnoff), Knight
Lords (Holoboff), Patterson (Osachoff), Perry (Kalmakoff), Sunshine (Lavrenchenkoff),
Treimans (Lapshinoff), Wilson (Postnikoff),
Note that Doukhobor
surnames ending in -off were more frequently changed than surnames ending
in -in. Also, those Doukhobor surnames consisting of three or more
syllables (Sherstobitoff, Podovinnikoff) were more frequently changed than
surnames consisting of two syllables.
In Canada, legally changed names must be published in the provincial gazette
of the province in which it was changed. For a comprehensive listing of
Doukhobor name changes, see the
Alberta Gazette, and the
British Columbia Gazette.
the past century in Canada, many Doukhobor family names have become common
and widespread while others have dwindled or disappeared entirely. The
separate fortunes of a family or families obviously determine whether such
surnames became scarce or numerous. Some families had several male lines
that started new branches in Canada; other families just managed to survive
in the male line. In many cases, the family was never numerous or prolific
and the surname they bore eventually disappeared with the end of the male
Surnames. The most common Doukhobor surnames in Canada today include:
Bloodoff, Bonderoff, Chernenkoff, Chernoff, Cheveldaeff, Chutskoff, Dergousoff,
Hadikin, Horkoff, Kalmakoff, Kanigan, Kazakoff, Kinakin, Kolesnikoff, Konkin,
Makortoff, Markin, Novokshonoff, Perepolkin, Pereversoff, Plotnikoff, Podovinnikoff,
Popoff, Postnikoff, Poznikoff, Reibin, Rezansoff, Rilkoff, Tarasoff, Semenoff,
Soukeroff, Strelioff, Strukoff, Stushnoff, Verigin, Voykin, Zaitsoff and
Zibin. This stable core of surnames has persisted through the centuries
to the present day.
Surnames. Some of the more rare Doukhobor surnames in Canada include:
Babayoff, Bedinoff, Belovanoff, Bojey, Chikmaroff, Cherkasoff, Darin, Dorofeoff,
Egoroff, Eletskoff, Esakin, Esauloff, Filipoff, Glaskoff, Glagoloff, Hrushkin,
Harelkin, Hancheroff, Juriloff, Kasahoff, Kaboroff, Kondratoff, Koozin,
Krigin, Krukoff, Kholodinin, Lavrenchenkoff, Labintsoff, Larin, Masloff,
Metin, Nadane, Noshkin, Overennay, Petroff, Premarukoff, Plaxin, Padowsky,
Parkin, Pohozoff, Repin, Rozinkin, Savitskoff, Shishkin, Shustoff, Shapkin,
Skiboff, Skripnikoff, Slastukin, Soobotin, Sysoeff, Taranoff, Trubetskoff,
Vlasoff, Zarchikoff and Zubenkoff.
Surnames. Surnames which are no longer in use among the Doukhobors
in Canada include: Bikanoff, Bokovoy, Chutsky, Dvortsoff, Eletsky, Gnezdiloff,
Hohlin, Kalachoff, Kolasoff, Konobaloff, Kotoff, Krikunoff, Leonoff, Miroshnikoff,
Parfenkoff, Satkoff, Savitsky, Shamshurin, Shikonoff, Sotnikoff, Svetlichny,
Svetloff, Trubitsin, Voronkoff, Yaschenkoff and Youritsin.
Several more rare surnames will disappear in Canada within the next decade.
Part IV. Nicknames
- descriptive expressions added to a person's real name or used instead
of it - occur in every culture and the Doukhobors are no exception. Many
colourful and unique nicknames were used to distinguish individuals, and
in some cases, entire families.
were typically used to describe individuals with reference to their behavior
or personality, their moral or intellectual attributes, or their physical
characteristics and peculiarities. In other cases, they might attribute
some particular quality of an animal, plant or object to a person. While
the literal meaning of a nickname may be clear, the reason why it was given
often remains obscure, and generations later, can only be speculated on.
Sometimes a nickname referred to the exact opposite of what was literally
of Russian nicknames used by Doukhobors include: slepoi (blind),
(pot), richarda (most faithful), khromoi (lame),
(sock), bol'shak (big), khuda (thin),
(bearded), zolotoi (golden-haired),
zhurushka (gloomy), kandal'nik
(shackled one), blinshchitsa (blintsi maker), rybka (little
kormilushka (provider), starichok (oldster), zhikhar
kutnyak (barn), besednitsa
tsar (king), bubun (chatterer), gubun
kalmachuk (adopted member of the Kalmakoff family),
(member of the Zaitsoff family), shustrii (wry or vigilant), pcholka
(little bee), nemoi (mute), dlinnii (tall), krasnii
(red), belyak (white), hrubii (rough), kosoi (squint-eyed),
(one-armed), glukhoi (deaf), kulik (snipe), ryaboi
(speckled), kotik (tom-cat), lapot' (bast shoe), kukan
(snare), kashka (bald), zubilo (chisel), bulanka (blond),
(potter), shalyka (crazy), zayats (rabbit), turok
(Turk), kiroplanchik (aviator), chernyi (black), lysak
(bald), kolbasa (sausage), kosolapyi (clumsy), puzatyi
(big-bellied), krasnyi (handsome), soldat (soldier), indiasky
(person living near an Indian reserve), kosha (kitten), podkidnoy
(foundling), usiak (moustache), baran (ram), ishak
(mule), yablochnik (apple man), etc.
leaders often bore honourific epithets or nicknames. For example, Ilarion
Pobirokhin was referred to as
Radost' ("Our Joy") and his wife as Radost’iu. Savely Kapustin
was referred to as Kormilets ("Our Provider") and his wife as
Kormilushka. Petr Kalmykov
referred to as Khrabrii ("The Brave"). His wife Lukeria Kalmykova was
referred to as Blazhennaya ("The Blessed One"). Peter Vasil'evich
Verigin was referred to as Gospodnii ("Lordly"). His son Peter Petrovich
Verigin was referred to as Chistyakov ("The Cleanser"). His son, Peter Petrovich
Verigin III, in turn, was referred to as Istrebov ("The Annihilator").
Doukhobor families in Russia had two names - an official surname and an unofficial
family nickname. The family nickname was used to distinguish between unrelated
families with the same surname or different branches of the same family.
As a family prospered and became more numerous in a village, each branch
was given its own distinct nickname. Their function and formation were very
similar to "dit" names in Quebec and "clan" or "sept" names in Scotland. The family nickname might be formed
in one of several ways:
names formed the basis of many family nicknames. For example, the
Popovs, the patriarch of whom had eleven sons when joining the Doukhobor
movement, came to be identified by these son's first names: Makar (Makarov),
Tikhon (Tikhonov), Khrol (Khrolov), Asei (Aseyev),
Mikisha (Mikishin), Anikusha (Anikushin), Levon (Levonov),
Daria (Darin), etc.
Nicknames also gave rise to family nicknames. For example, a branch
of the Kazakovs whose patriarch was nicknamed Chulok were referred
to as the Chulkovs. A branch of the Postnikovs whose patriarch was
nicknamed Starichok were referred to as the Starchikovs. A
branch of the Antyufeevs whose patriarch was nicknamed Slepoi were
referred to as the Slepovs.
Variations. Sometimes the family nickname was a variation of the
original surname, derived from the same etymological root. Examples include: Podovsky or Podovil'nikov (from Podovinnikov),
(from Ponomarev) and Panferkov (from Parfenkov) and
Occasionally, a Russian surname was Ukrainianized by adding the -enko suffix
ending. The resulting name implied a "lesser", "poor" or "unfortunate"
branch of the family. Examples include: Chutsenko (from Chutsky),
Golubenko (from Golubov), Trofimenko (from Trofimov) and Petrenko (from Petrov).
the family nickname was passed down to later generations, either in place
of the original surname or in addition to it. Some branches might then
keep the original surname, and some might adopt the family nickname. After
several generations, it was not uncommon to completely lose the memory
of the original surname, or to forget which was the original and which
was the family nickname.
is important to note that Doukhobor ancestors may appear in records under
the original surname, a family nickname, or both. It is suggested that
family researchers use any of the following methods to record the family
zhe i Mikishin
does not matter in genealogical research. Beginning genealogists frequently
look only for exact spelling; when they do, they usually do not find what
they are seeking. Realize that most Doukhobor immigrants were illiterate
and had no notion that any one spelling of their name was more correct
than another. Furthermore, even if he or she could read Russian, they would
not necessarily recognize the written name if it was written in English.
Therefor, be very open-minded with the spelling of names in your research;
you may have looked at many records of your ancestors and not realized
should be aware of Russian names that look and sound similiar, but are
separate and distinct. These include: Marfa ~
Aleksei ~ Aleksander, Filipp ~
Nikifor, Fadei ~ Fotei,
Akim ~ Efim,
~ Varvara, Semyon ~ Samuil,
Maria ~ Marina,
~ Trofim, Egor ~ Igor, Fyodor ~ Fedot ~ Fedosei, etc.
researchers should be aware of Doukhobor surnames that look and sound similiar,
but originate from different roots and belong to different families. These
include: Malakhov ~
Malikov, Postnikov ~ Pozdnyakov,
~ Eroshenkov, D'yakov ~
~ Balabanov ~
Beloivanov, Kazakov ~ Kasahov,
Sukharev ~ Sukhorukov, Zharikov ~ Zhikharev,
~ Rybin, Parkin ~ Parakhin, Tarasov ~ Taranov, Trubitsin
Svetlishchev ~ Svetlichnov, Kireev
~ Karev, Kuchin ~ Kuzin, Shchukin ~ Shchekin, Kanygin ~ Kinyakin,
immigrants had several different names during their lifetime. Any given
document may show the full form or the diminutive form, the Russian version
or the English version of their name. The principle to remember is that
the pattern of recording names was completely inconsistent. Therefore, researchers
should be alert to all possibilities. Consider the following example:
M., Dictionary of Russian Personal Names (Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1964).
F., Dictionary of Ukrainian Surnames in Canada (Winnipeg: UVAN,
Y.A., Russkie Familii: Populiarnii Etomologicheskii Slovar (Moscow,
D. Changes of Name: The Saskatchewan Gazette 1917-1950 (Regina:
Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, 1993).
S.A., O Dukhoborcheskikh Familiakh in ISKRA No.1889 (Grand Forks:
USCC, March 29, 2000).
J., 1918 Census of Independent Doukhobors (Regina: 2002).
A. Kh., 500 Ruski Familii c Bulgaro-Tatarski Prouzkhog (Sofia, 1993).
S., List of Doukhobors Living in Saskatchewan in 1905 (Crescent
Archives of Canada, Immigration Branch, Central Registry Files (RG 76,
Volumes 183 to 185, Parts 1 to 14) Microfilm Reel
Nos. C-7337 to C-7341.
V.A., Slovar Russkikh Familii (Moscow: 1993).
N.A., Slovar Russkikh Lichnikh Imen (Moscow, 1968).
Stories From Doukhobor History (Grand Forks: USCC, 1992).
J.E., Doukhobor History Quiz in ISKRA No.1633 (Grand Forks: USCC,
December 3, 1986).
J.E., Doukhobor History Quiz in ISKRA No.1670 (Grand Forks: USCC,
September 7, 1988).
Gazette 1950-1965 (Regina: Saskatchewan Queen's Printer).
B.O., Russian Surnames (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972).
was reproduced by permission in the following journals and periodicals:
Nos.1900 & 1901 (Grand Forks: USCC, 2000).
Journal Vol 10 (Salt Lake City: Federation of East European Family History
Vol 34 No 2 (Regina: Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, June, 2003).