Elias (Alexander) Jurkiewicz was living in Bilyi Kamin', Ukraine when his first children were born. Family lore says Elias came from Russia and worked there as a shoemaker for the Czar (we haven't verified this by any means). I have found the baptismal records of many of his children and verified that the surname was spelled Jurkiewicz, such as in the baptism of his daughter Katharine (first on the page).

Assuming that Elias really was from Russia, what are the chances that Jurkiewicz is the same surname and spelling he would've used in Russia? What are likely variations?


The chances he used the same spelling as "Jurkiewicz" anywhere in Russia, at least on official documents, are nearly exactly zero: Russia used (and still uses) the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Latin one.

Now, modern Russian alphabet and mid-19th-century Russian alphabet differ quite a bit as well, in particular the letter "yat" was still wildly used, and both variants of the letter "I" (И and І) were used nearly interchangeability.

In the end, the variants possible are aplenty, but based on the Polish pronunciation of the name, those are likely:

  • Юркевичъ or Юркевич
  • Юркиевичъ or Юркиевич
  • Юркіевичъ or Юркіевич
  • Юркѣвичъ or Юркѣвич

The hard sign "ъ" at the end is often found in old Russian transliteration of Polish names. Of those, only "Юркевич" and "Юркиевич" still seem to be used; the other variants were made obsolete by the spelling reforms in the 20th century.


It's also possible that Jurkewitz (Юркевич) was his patronymic, or perhaps it was a patrnymic that was turned into a last name in an earlier generation.

  • It's very likely originally a patronymic name, but from either Polish ("Jurek") or Ukrainian ("Юрій"). The name corresponds to the Russian name "Георгий" (Georgiy). – Martin Sojka Jun 18 '13 at 5:58

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